Roofed containers built with salvage material from film sets.

The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers: A Politics of Representation

Becca Voelcker, May 19th

Playing with location and dislocation, British artist filmmaker Ben Rivers’ feature film and installation, The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers (2015) take a large-scale film set as a backdrop, and the BBC’s former prop-making studios as a stage. Rivers uses Ouarzazate, a small town on the border between Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and the desert, as his film location, offering a multifaceted critique of the many films made there in the past, and being made there today. His ethnographically inflected practice blurs facts with fiction, often focusing on socially marginalized characters and locations. Borrowing Trinh T. Minh-ha’s ideas of intercultural cinema, Becca Voelcker discusses in this article The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers’ use of bodily metaphors (eyes, voice and hands) to explore identity and displacement.

Recent articles

Where’s the money?

Rachel O'Dwyer, Mar 9th

Money has always included hidden traces of its own exchange and circulation, but with the shift to electronic payments, these traces are coming to the fore, influencing new business models and forms of governance. What are the material cultures of these transactional histories and how do they shape and reshape exchange? And what tactics remain to users to safeguard, obscure or reappropriate these traces, asks Rachel O’Dwyer.

Emerson and the Poets

Chris Townsend, Jan 14th

On Christmas day in 1832, the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson set sail from America to Great Britain. His goal was to meet some of his literary heroes, including the poets Coleridge and Wordsworth. Emerson’s encounters with the two great English-language poets of the day leaves us with two richly delineated portraits which Chris Townsend recapitulates: Coleridge as frantic and frenetic thinker, Wordsworth as calmly composed poet. But these encounters also cast light on a formative time for Emerson, as he transitioned from a period of turmoil towards his own time as a great writer of verse and an influential thinker, in no small part inspired by the British poets.

Written on the Walls

Jennifer Chisholm, Dec 15th

Using the recent crisis of racialized police violence in the United States as context, Jennifer Chisholm narrates a story of police violence and indigenous resistance in Rio de Janeiro. She tells this story through looking at graffiti also as a personal account of how the experience of reading violence and resistance on the walls of an abandoned building—doubling as the site of a violence eviction— challenged the author to reconsider her position as an unaffected observer.

The Speech

Christopher Prendergast, Dec 9th

In the ten hour long House of Commons debate last week on the government’s motion to authorise bombing raids in Syria, there was one speech that took the House by storm, triggering a standing ovation and a rapturous reception in the press, where there was much talk of the speaker, Hilary Benn, as the next leader of the Labour Party and a Prime Minister in waiting. This essay by Christopher Prendergast takes a more sceptical view of the speech, dissecting it largely from the point of view of its appeal to ‘internationalism’ and more particularly the example of the Spanish Civil War, in which his father fought and very nearly died.

Dreaming about Paris

Johannes Lenhard, Nov 22nd

We are shocked about the attacks on Friday 13 because, for the West, Paris is an ideal city of love, equality and democracy. Being hit there shakes a misleading dream which we finally need to wake up from and adjust, argues Johannes Lenhard.

Fishing for Fairness

Chelsea Hayman, Oct 30th

Fishermen learn to set traps and nets to maximize their harvest, but the rules that govern these behaviors can limit their overall success. Commons management is appealing to our mind’s inclination towards systems that combine fairness and punishment. Both fishermen and sustainability-minded groups want fish stock to be preserved. However, argues Chelsea Hayman, formal conservation policy makes the greatest impact when it considers the significance of fairness and punishment in fishing communities and the breakdown of relationships and successes that occurs when these components are compromised.

‘Ecuador Bans Bitcoin’! A Monetary Mix-Up

Taylor Nelms, Oct 20th

When reports circulated in 2014 that the Central Bank of Ecuador had banned Bitcoin and planned to introduce its own digital currency, the focus on Bitcoin distracted from the world’s first publically mandated and operated mobile money system and the intense controversy that system provoked in Ecuador. As Taylor Nelms explains in this article in the ‘Future of Money’ strand, that controversy was linked to anxieties about the durability of money’s value. The anxities stemmed from Ecuador’s dollarization more than a decade before, pointing back towards the politics of value at stake in contemporary experiments with the infrastructures of money.

Solidarity Amidst Disaster

Red Samaniego, Oct 13th

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. government’s response to the storm casts a revealing light on the humanitarian crisis taking place on the United States’s southern border. Conditions that arose quite dramatically in New Orleans in 2005 – criminalization and militarization of the population, structural apathy toward heightened rates of gender-based violence, and the increased privatization of public institutions – are now prevalent in the border region as well. This article compares these conditions and suggests the possibility of a broader solidarity between disparate populations fighting against marginalization by the neoliberal state.

When long-termism masquerades

Victor Roy, Sep 14th

Do projections of future savings to society justify the seemingly exorbitant pricing of potentially life-saving drugs? Victor Roy takes apart the pharmaceutical industry’s often specious rationale for high prices: “Underneath a veneer of long-term thinking hides a more pernicious pathology of short-termism. [...] The most important reason for treating a patient—their chance at health—is lost amid all the arithmetic. The consequences are significant.”

Good without God. An Interview with Matthew Engelke.

Jonas Tinius and Johannes Lenhard, Aug 5th

Jonas Tinius and Johannes Lenhard interview anthropologist Matthew Engelke from the London School of Economics in this first piece for the new strand on the ‘Good Life’. Building on earlier research on what it means to be good for a Christian, Engelke talks about achieving a good life and happiness as a secular humanist in Britain today. In short, such a good life emerges through debate, contemplation, reason and argument – always in relation and conversation with others – and it comes now, in this world, as part of this life’s happiness. Engelke provides us with starting points to explore important questions about wellbeing, ethics, and a good life – without god.

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The Blog

Solidarity Actually: A Post-Referendum Reality Check

Leila EssaJul 6

We all have more questions than answers right now. But we also have a public that is more politicised than I have ever seen in my young life. As students and academics, we have a lecture-free summer to get together and come up with ways to translate our jumbled thoughts into plans and action. Solidarity will not be easy to achieve, but it will be urgently needed. There will be nothing fluffy about it. And it won’t be for nothing.

A Defense of Museums

James PearsonJun 30

In a critical response to King’s Review editor Claire Aichholzer’s article Leave room for alternatives in art, Wisconsin-based exhibitions coordinator and curator James Pearson defends the reputation of art museums. Pearson argues that while fine art is tied to wealth, museums have guarded their status as institutions by and for the public. In response to Aichholzer’s call for alternative art spaces, he concludes that museums are an ordered, necessary archive that in fact make art digestible to a larger audience.

Looking for the coin in the haystack

Johannes LenhardMay 3

Australian Craig Steven Wright came out as the inventor of Bitcoin on May 2 but there are various reasons to doubt his claim. Johannes Lenhard gives a comprehensive overview of the accusations and speculates about potential reasons for the revelation. The best bet: business interests.

Leave room for alternatives in art

Claire AichholzerFeb 8

Traditional venues associated with exhibiting art often limit artists and visitors thanks to physical and intellectual barriers that stem from long-established norms of the art world. While some traditional art institutions, like museums, claim to serve the public, in practice they’re far from establishing meaningful, enduring relationships with diverse populations. Claire Aichholzer argues in this introduction to a new strand that alternative art spaces, like the Internet, can provide an antidote, helping art reach a broader audience.

“Why Do They Riot?”

Sebastian JacksonDec 1

Hip-hop may seem divisive, but Sebastian Jackson argues that it brings young people together in this meditation on Hip Hop and pedagogy in rural America. In the wake of high-profile police killings of unarmed black people, mass incarceration, and “race riots”, hip-hop pedagogy provides a way for young Americans—both urban black and rural white—to find common purpose.

Buy to Let, and to Accumulate

Paul SagarNov 25

The UK housing market is booming – for the rich. Paul Sagar looks at how the exposition of buy-to-let purchases systematically channels wealth and income to those who are already well-off, at the expense of those who are not. And this, he argues, is no accident or inevitable economic outcome, but a direct consequence of government policy.

The peacock has landed

Charlie ArtingstollNov 13

The Peacock has landed. Today it was announced that Aung San Suu Kyi and her party have won a landslide victory in Myanmar’s recent elections. However, throughout her election campaign she has repeatedly downplayed the issue of the persecution of ethnic Muslims in the western state of Rakhine, and growing Islamophobia in the country. While – rightly or wrongly – this can be explained by political expediency, what is important is that the she and the party realize the power they have to reform the people of Myanmar’s views on the issue, and therefore the great potential they have to stop further suffering.

Sor Juana: An Icon of Freedom

Nikita SimpsonNov 5

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651?-95) speaks to us across the centuries as a woman who was driven by the desire to follow her greatest inclination, learning and the study of letters. Prof. Catherine Boyle and spoken word artist Amerah Saleh give us an insight into Juana’s strong poetry and share their inspirations with us.

Candyfloss for refugees

Jan BockOct 22

Berlin’s Muslim communities are taking an active role in supporting refugees, thus shaping German civil society and its responses to the arrival of hundreds of thousands fleeing war, persecution, and poverty. This new engagement is both an expression of, and a call for, emergent self-confidence among minority communities that redefine their role within German society. Jan Bock documents ethnographically one such initiative at the end of the Eid al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice, in Berlin’s Sehitlik mosque.

Twin Speak: Reflections Upon the Doubles in Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’

Chris TownsendOct 17

A basic function of artworks is that they hold a mirror up to our selves. Doubled figures in art therefore tell us something about that process of mirroring, and can make it explicit. Chris Townsend explores doubles in David Lynch’s cult TV series Twin Peaks, to begin to understand how a TV show can shed a little light on our own dual natures.