Born Free – MIA’s Poetry After Guantanamo

A piece written before this week’s release of Bad Girls, coming out soon in Social Identities.

Abstract: The recent work of the Sri-Lankan-British musician and sonic ‘curator’ known as M.I.A. (real name: Mathangi Arulpragasam) is considered as a commentary on atrocity and read alongside the well known essay ‘The Storyteller’ by Walter Benjamin and comments on Auschwitz by Theodor Adorno. The storytelling here is updated for a contemporary context where global war impacts us all, more or less visibly, more, or less, acknowledged. It is argued that the controversy over M.I.A.’s Romain Gavras video Born Free is exemplary of the predicament of art in the face of violence, crisis and terror – with this track, and video, M.I.A.’s work faced a storm of criticism which I want to critique in turn, in an attempt, at least, to learn to make or discern more analytic distinctions amongst concurrent determinations of art A careful reading of Adorno can in the end teach us to see Born Free anew.

 

Keywords: Benjamin, Adorno, Gavras, M.I.A, music, terror, racism, orientalism.

PDF Here Poetry After GuantanamoFinalDraftSocialIdentities.

UK Border Author-itybittyshitty

The new UK Points-Based Immigration scheme is – no surprise – a nasty headache, and the hoops to be jumped through for the privilege of being charged for higher education in the ever more depleted UK HE sector are just mind-boggling. See below for the guidance for students who might have the mad idea that coming to Goldsmiths might be a straightforward matter of applying and being accepted. To think that this points-biased plan originally comes from Australia is painful (and not mitigated by the UK’s overdue acceptance of the Flat White Coffee and decent Colombian beans – at last). Worse, it seems Lib-Dem Clegg (the fifth Beatle) wants to introduce a localized version of this, while his mates Posh Dave and Gordon Godzilla have even more rabid anti-immigration ideas up their trickster sleeves (no-one said anything good on this topic in the first TV ‘debate’ – where was Davina McCall, who could have let us phone them out of the show and have them sacrificed to appease the volcano). Non compliance with the reporting is the way forward for staff, but here are the latest instructions, just to emphasize the absurdity of it all – the immoral maze. My favourite is the promise that all this will change again imminently. For the worse no doubt. Use you vote wisely – screw it up and stuff it in the end of an old bottle, half filled with Volcanic ash, light the end and be ready to throw – self defence is no offence as we know.

Seriously though – the Students Not Suspects campaign site is here. Join the fight.

FAO: All Administrative and Academic Staff
Dear Colleague
Following implementation of points-based immigration (PBI) international students who require a visa to study in the UK must be sponsored by a licensed institution.
The type of visa a student can apply for is dependent on their age, and both the level and duration of their programme of study – see http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/studyingintheuk/
<http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/studyingintheuk/> .
Goldsmiths has been licensed by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to sponsor students in all categories, but most international students at Goldsmiths will need to apply as Tier 4 General Students.
Tier 4 (General) category is for adult students who want to come to or remain in the UK for post-16 education.
Whether applying to enter the UK to commence studies or remain in the UK to continue their studies a students visa application must be supported with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). CAS are issued on behalf of Goldsmiths by the following offices:
. Admissions – applicants to commence a new programme of study at Goldsmiths should contact the Admissions Office, Room 115, Richard Hoggart Building or emailintapps@gold.ac.uk <mailto:intapps@gold.ac.uk> . Further information is also given at http://www.gold.ac.uk/international/visa/ <http://www.gold.ac.uk/international/visa/> ;
. Enrolments and Records – students extending their student visa to continue or repeat part of their current programme of study should visit Enrolments and Records, Room 122, Richard Hoggart Building or email  studentrecords@gold.ac.uk <mailto:studentrecords@gold.ac.uk> .

Students should note that we are required to take a photocopy of their current passport, details of which must be included in the CAS together with tuition fees paid, and pre-requisite qualifications if they are a new entrant. They should allow 5-10 working days for their CAS to be assigned, i.e. we must apply and pay for the CAS via the UKBA Sponsor Management System. The CAS is valid for 6 months from point of issue, after which the student must show this office that they have obtained clearance to study or they may not be sponsored and taught by the institution. Students are therefore required to show proof of entry clearance to Enrolments and Records once their visa application has been processed or their access to services may be suspended and their enrolment withdrawn.

It is important to note that although international students are not permitted to enrol on a part-time programme of study, they are permitted to repeat in part-time attendance or in exam-attendance if their participation is required. In such cases we will ask the Academic Department to confirm that the student’s participation is required and that they are able to meet their sponsorship duties, or we may not issue a CAS.

Subsequent to the issue of a CAS, Enrolments and Records will be required to report any change of programme, interruption, withdrawal, or failure to attend/enrol to the UKBA. It’s therefore important that any student indicating a wish to interrupt or withdraw is referred to either the Departmental Administrator or Enrolments and Records who may issue them the appropriate paperwork to be authorised by either their head of department or senior tutor. Students failing to return the authorised paperwork within 2 weeks of the last date of attendance will remain liable for the full tuition fee and will not be eligible for a refund of any fees paid.

Failure to report such changes within a reasonable timeframe may also result in our sponsor licence being withdrawn, we will not be able to issue CAS to any student of Goldsmiths and current students may find that their CAS or visa is cancelled.

Tier 1 category is for skilled workers, but visa applications might be supported by confirmation of award and transcript of results – see http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/tier1/ <http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/tier1/&nbsp;> <http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/tier1/&nbsp;>
Whether a Goldsmiths student is applying for Tier 1 (General) or Tier 1 (Post-qualifying) their visa application must be supported by proof of qualifications.

Student Archives is able to provide Goldsmiths alumni or graduates a copy of their transcript or confirmation of award for this purpose. Enquirers should be advised to contact Archives, Room 122, Richard Hoggart Building and complete the order form or email studentrecords@gold.ac.uk. Further details of the services offered by Archives are given athttp://www.gold.ac.uk/student-services/transcripts-archives/ <http://www.gold.ac.uk/student-services/transcripts-archives/> .

Further enquiries
This information has been circulated to all international students, but if a student does want further advice on points based immigration, isn’t certain of what visa they require or have been refused entry to the UK they should contact Student Advice, email student-advice@gold.ac.uk <mailto:student-advice@gold.ac.uk> with brief details of their enquiry. All enquiries are dealt with in confidence.

Further changes to PBI are expected to be announced shortly, including the introduction of Highly Trusted Sponsor status. We will keep staff and students informed of these changes as they happen.

On behalf of Student Services / Marketing and Recruitment

offenders are using public transport

Criminals on our buses. So we better check their tickets cos we want them to pay full fare right! (Far Right – from the lovely people who brought you points based immigration, endless queuing, lost passports, deportations to Iraq, and the generalized cretinization that is the UK Border Agency). Worse than Homeland Security I think.

The sharp-as-a-tack-smart Emma informs me of the Home Office’s boneheaded formulation:

“‘Intelligence has shown that failed asylum seekers and other immigration offenders are using public transport on a regular basis. Previous operations on public transport routes have resulted in identifying and arresting failed asylum seekers and also removing them.’

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/freedom-of-information/released-information/foi-archive-immigration/929-immigration-checksa8cf.html?view=Html

See also here, here and here.

Proposal for presentation in Kolkata – 15 December 2009 at the Cultural Preservation Workshop

Preserves Takes More than Standard Time: Internationalism, Corporate Citizenship, and Security Fear – John Hutnyk

I am wondering if preservation-talk is confined to certain areas and domains and should be either expanded or done away with. This is not just a two-part provocation, but in between the calculations of intervention and documentation, can we talk of continuities of action, of commitment, of engagement or – conversely – the loss of these – preserve solidarity, preserve the party form, preserve the international… And what is the difference between preserve and re-institute/renew? Corporate preservation and gentrification on the one hand, and Nietzsche saying ‘what is falling down should be pushed’ on the other. Old forms abandoned in some cases, others guarded by right. I would like to describe three different contexts in which these issues seem pertinent: a) the work of internationals in relation to NGOs, activist groups and political struggles that perhaps need an ‘about face’ to escape a drain on scarce resources ‘on the ground'; b) the hijack of community, participation and care by corporate and commercial interests who proudly announce their token initiatives in press release and annual report (what I will call ‘glossy anthropology’); c) and the disjunct of heritage funding and political context, using the London Underground and the security situation in the War on Terror as example.

This Much is True

demenezesI will be attending this important bit of theatre:

THIS MUCH IS TRUE
By Paul Unwin and Sarah Beck

On 22 July 2005 Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by the Metropolitan Police at Stockwell tube station. It was a defining moment in London’s history yet too many questions are left unanswered.

Award-winning writer and director Paul Unwin’s (co-creator of Casualty and Holby City) and Sarah Beck’s play is a shocking, electrifying, insight into what really happened before, during and in the years following Jean Charles de Menezes’ death.

Weaving together new and personal testimonies from senior police officers including Andy Hayman (Metropolitan Police former head of counter terrorism), Brian Paddick, Jean’s family, his friends, the legal team (including Michael Mansfield QC), THIS MUCH IS TRUE brings the tragedy to the stage and reveals much that has never been said publicly before.

Cast: Amber Agar, Stefano Braschi, Alice Da Cunha, Gerald Kyd, Beatriz Romilly, Justine Waddell.

Directed by Tim Roseman with a multi award-winning creative team including Paul Wills, Mike Walker, Knifedge, Richard Howell and Daniel Pemberton.

http://www.theatre503.com/whatson/detail/144/
www.theatre503.com
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Buzz Coupland

coulandDouglas ‘Buzz’ Coupland’s new novel, ‘Generation A’, takes as its premise the disappearance of bees, much discussed in the press in the wake of hive collapse. The tale is told in an unfolding multi-part personal/police statement/autobiography mode. It works mostly well until the storytelling parts in the second half, which are really OK in themselves, but a great chance for some structuralist play was missed I feel. The links are there, but I am not sure Buzz knows how to join up the sides of his hexagon as well as he might have. A few weeks more work could have been good. Nevertheless, this book is as readable as the other DC highlights (eg ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’, and the magnificent ‘All Families are Psychotic’). The distraction of the cover art gimmick (design your own colours for the jacket – I chose yellow!) and the lame title, dissuades the reader, and perhaps the author, from engagement with the covert security forces aspect of the scenario as written. War on terror meets eco-catastrophe is the topical theme of our times, yet this is not yet the novel that breaches the impasse of mere commentary. Terrible thing to say about literature, but I wanted it to do more – and instead, well, a meditation on celebrity is the danger here: I almost yawned at those parts. Although the boy’s own adventure espionage aspects are well rendered, they do not approach the necessary allegorical harshness required to compete with texts like Paglin and Thompson’s Torture Taxi. We live in dangerous times, and need a dangerous literature to engage. More cross pollination would not have hurt this text, I can’t help but feel there’s something a little flat about the landscape. All those rendition flights, and the stereotyped mad scientists, and the detention regimes, are treated with lightness and humour, and – fuck me with the tourette’s character’s PDA – I’m still not laughing over the war. I’m not over it, sorry. And getting all misty for the bees isn’t enough, no matter how much the Calvino inspired narrative game appeals (If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller… echoes strongly here). I like Coupland in a Canadian way, its good, it should be read, but there could be more than a lame colouring-in participatory aspect to the reading.

Do you like the yellow cover I’ve designed? – no creativity there then. We are doomed. Buzz buzz buzz.

And do you remember the opening credits of of the 1985’s Luc Besson film ‘Subway’?

“To do is to be” — Descartes
“To be is to do” — Sartre
“Doo, bee, doo, bee, doo” — Sinatra

That’d be name dropping then, Cristopher Lambert – even if Jean-Hugues Anglade was in it, Lambert was good here. But speaking of Anglade, couldn’t his co-star from ‘Betty Blue’, Beatrice Dalle, play ‘Diana’ in the movie of Coupland’s book? Shahrukh Khan as ‘Harj’ (though not Sri Lankan, still… but drop the ridiculous Apu routine). Kurt Cobain as ‘Zack’ of course… Am I dreaming up an impossible cast? There are five roles. I probably need to get all hexagrammatical here too:

Ever wonder why bees use hexagons to make beehives? Two reasons. First, bees want to enclose the largest possible space with the least amount of wax. With this in mind, a circle would be best. So why don’t they use circular combs? Because hexagons are the shape with the most sides that “tesselate”. In other words, if you put a bunch of hexagons next to each other there will be no spaces between them. No shape with more than six sides will do this.