(Photo Credit: John Fahy).

The Scourge of Caste

Arundhati Roy, Jan 17th

Arundhati Roy recounts the political legacy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, a leader of India’s national movement, and Gandhi’s greatest political adversary. Roy argues that Gandhi was in fact a “great defender” of the caste system, “a system that can only be maintained through the egregious application of violence”, and which is “the engine that runs India”.

Recent articles

O mother, mother what have you done?

Jane Haynes, Dec 13th

Reflecting on years of experience as a psychotherapist, Jane Haynes draws on a wide range of sources from film and literature to reflect on mothers and mother-figures. She also gives voice to some of her own patients, offering unique glimpses of the psychological significance of mothers.

Empathy After The Act of Killing

Rafael Dernbach, Dec 9th

A conversation with filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer about his work and the role of empathy in confronting the spectres of our past.

Co-operation

Patrick Bateson, Nov 20th

“The ideal of social cooperation has come to be treated as high-sounding flabbiness,” Pat Bateson writes, “while individual selfishness is regarded as the natural and sole basis for a realistic approach to life. Competition is now widely seen as the mainspring of human activity. The process can be reversed if we work actively against a style of thought that places all the emphasis on confrontation. If we don’t, the building up of enormous arsenals of weapons will lead inexorably to the use of those arms in some moment of blind irrationality.”

The Allure of Real Work

Tom Barker, Nov 4th

While some might celebrate the decline of hard physical labour across “post-industrial” service-based economies, one of the prices we have paid has been greater uncertainty and anxiety about the ultimate worth of the work we do. Tom Barker questions the assumptions underlying talk of “non-jobs” and “bullshit jobs”, and in doing so asks us to interrogate our own definitions of what constitutes “real” work.

What’s food got to do with it?

Tobias Haeusermann, Oct 29th

The bulk of most nutritional science is methodologically flawed and yet continues to cause many unnecessary anxieties about our food consumption. Tobias Haeusermann argues that it is time that we shift our attention to the socioeconomic conditions that give rise to different food habits, and the privilege required to “eat well”.

A False Intimacy: The Policing of Women’s Body Hair

Melisa Trujillo, Oct 24th

We find the sight of female body hair to be shocking, as it seems to fly in the face of the ‘acceptable’ norm. Drawing on her own research into self-defining feminist women and body hair, Melisa Trujillo argues that, when we attempt to police women’s bodies, we are overstepping a line, involving ourselves in a false, and sometimes violent form of intimacy.

Against the Idea of ‘The Cure’

Konrad Laker, Oct 21st

The hope for a cure, a renewed absence of disease, is still one of the central legitimizing forces in the project of medicine. The promise of a cure inspires hope in patients and motivates doctors and researchers. But is it really a useful concept for guiding medical research and assessing the success of medical treatment? Konrad Laker argues that with the emergence of modern medical practice, the term may do a great deal more harm than good, unless fundamentally rethought.

On Civility and Academia

Norman Finkelstein, Oct 13th

Norman Finkelstein gives an unconventional critique of really-existing ‘academic freedom’, recounts the bizarre story of Bertrand Russell’s 1940 dismissal from the College of the City of New York, and examines authors from Marx to Chomsky in his defense of the academic’s right to “break free of the shackles imposed by polite discourse… to speak the impolite and impolitic truth.”

Between Rhetoric and Practice: The UK’s Response to Domestic Violence Against Women with Insecure Immigration Status

Halliki Voolma, Oct 9th

Halliki Voolma argues that, if we want to take seriously the issue of violence against women, this means also taking seriously the importance of specialist support services in the case of immigration.

Intimacy, Love, and the Body – Rethinking Helmut Newton’s Photography

Jan Bock, Oct 4th

Ten years after Helmut Newton’s death, a double exhibition celebrates his work in Berlin’s Museum of Photography. Exciting juxtapositions and breaks characterise both ‘Us and Them’ and ‘Sex and Landscapes’, inviting viewers to reflect on understandings of intimacy, the body, power, and desire. Works by Alice Springs complement his depictions of strong femmes fatales with more refined characters. Their works, as well as their portraits of each other, reveal important issues of representation and authenticity, perhaps particularly relevant for an age marked by proliferating images of naked (female) bodies, argues Jan Bock.

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The Blog

Speaking of African Politics, Without the Politics

Annabelle WittelsNov 27

Let’s talk about ethnic conflict and national politics. Take the example of one country, where an ethnic group makes up 80% of the population, yet the remaining four ethnic groups exert considerable political influence. These minority ethnic groups together have …

We Want Free Higher Education: What Our Parents Had

Eric LybeckNov 19

Eric Lybeck sympathizes with the thousands of students who are going to be on the streets of London today protesting for ‘Free Education’. While declining public funding for universities and student debt are serious problems, Lybeck argues that the root of the injustice is not that wealth defines who can go to university or that working class students suffer over proportionately from paying back the debt. For him, the problem is that future generations will have to pay for what we think is a collective good.

Palestine and the Slow Burn of Anti-Colonial Resistance

Lorna Finlayson and Clément MouhotOct 27

Clément Mouhot and Lorna Finlayson reflect on the enduring crisis in Palestine and respond to critics who say that singling out Israel is “misguided”, “myopic”, or “immoral”.

What form does laughter take? Disturbing Reactions to Kara Walker’s Newest Piece

Kyle StonemanSep 24

Kara Walker’s installation at the Domino Sugar Refinery has received a lot of attention, much of it problematic. It is Walker’s ironic enlistment of racist stereotypes that gives her work its power, but this can also lead to inappropriate laughter and racist reactions. Kyle Stoneman explores how we tackle race and female bodies in a museum setting, looking at the installation and its impact.

What does it mean to have a right when you don’t know what a right is?

Nikita SimpsonSep 19

The Indian state has made significant headway in both welfare policies and neo-liberal economic development. They are well on the way to creating citizens out of the masses of people. In the column ‘Terra Nullius’, Nikita Simpson questions the narrative government officials spin particularly with regards to women and how in everyday life women are often not the empowered ‘nexus of rights’ the officials imagine.

Heroin and the stainless steel plane of the spoon

Johannes LenhardSep 16

In the Flummox-column, Johannes Lenhard narrates Michael’s story begging, scoring and shooting heroin on the streets of London. Michael is an addict who cares for his drug, but he has reasons for this: on the stainless steel plane of the spoon, the drug cares back – something that he was denied all his life.

Last Night of the What? The Proms are already over.

Anita DattaSep 13

The Last Night of the Proms rests in prime position in the British cultural calendar, but in many ways it is a betrayal of everything The Promenade Concerts stand for, argues Anita Data in the Sound World column.

Radical Feminism, Transgender Issues, and Phenomenology

Sarah Stein LubranoAug 24

A subset of radical feminists argue that trans people’s claims about their gender are invalid, but these radical feminists need to take a harder look at the epistemological basis of their worldview.

Jeremy Deller Confronts the William Morris Myth: Problems of Biography and Image

Kim Clayton-GreeneAug 22

William Morris is celebrated as a British hero, a craftsman who fought for equality. Jeremy Deller’s ‘We Sit Starving Amidst Our Gold’ celebrates and queries this legacy, summoning Morris to throw Roman Abramovich’s yacht into the Venetian lagoon. Kim Clayton-Greene looks at Morris’s biography and popular image, and the ways in which his intent and impact have at times conflicted.

Australia’s refugee crisis and the normality of exception

Nikita SimpsonAug 17

The phantasm of the illegal asylum seeker has haunted Australian politics for the past fifty years. The measures successive governments have taken to tame the beast encroach increasingly on their human dignity. As the Abbott government introduces ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’, Nikita Simpson questions what happens when the exception becomes the norm.