Iraq, BP and the British Museum – look upon these works and hang our heads in shame

I had read in advance the briefing that Culture Unstained had put out to accompany the planned action. The protest at the British Museum was to be against BP’s sponsorship of the exhibition ‘I am Ashurbanipal: king of the world, king of Assyria’, a display of treasures from the land of Iraq. I read lines...

Silence in the Storm – Business and No Deal Brexit

  The storm in Westminster rages so ferociously that at times it’s hard to hear ourselves think. There is second by second coverage of the House of Commons and Downing Street from every conceivable angle. Backbenchers so obscure that we’ve never heard of them before are dragged through the TV studios and closely cross-questioned. Others...

Of Climate and Memory – Extinction Rebellion and Doreen Massey

We drive slowly down the winding lane that leads across the flat landscape on the northern flank of the Solway Firth in the county of Dumfries & Galloway. As we move onto the farmland of Preston Merse, we are distracted by the red stone ruin of Wreaths Tower. All that remains of the craggy weathered...

‘The Knowledge Quarter’ – resistance to capture and divestment from capital

In the Autumn I attended an utterly inspiring Shake! & Stuart Hall Foundation event – the launch of the Black Cultural Activism Map. It was held at the Platform theatre space in the Central Saint Martin’s art school – CSM – part of University of the Arts London. This new premises is a vast warehouse of...

To Bruce Mackenzie – For these and future memories

  In the flurry of a Tuesday afternoon, I receive an unexpected e-mail from Vicki Carroll. The header has your name in it Bruce, and I know instinctively within an instant what the message holds. I hover a while and then open the text to read the inevitable. You have stepped over, passed through the...

When we ask them they say ‘Don’t stop!’ – Knowledge as resistance to erasure at the launch of Black Cultural Activism Map

We watch in wonder as dancer Akeim Toussaint Buck moves his body as fluid as water across the black box of the stage. Our eyes are transfixed as the voice of activist Max Farrar intones the words of Sai Murray’s poem ‘Stop Signs’ over the sound system. And in Lane number 1 from Nigeria, wearing 1969,...

A Love of the Surface of the Earth – beyond the petroleum world

  Quite suddenly the light has gone. We are left to complete our voyage in the growing dark. The sea charts cease to become legible, the OS map strains the eyes. The words of that fount of all Thames Estuary sailing advice, Charlie Stock, are ringing in our ears ‘When night sailing, do not use...

Victory at Leith Hill! Divest Fracking! Resisting sites of speculation

This piece was written before the news of the draconian jail sentences passed on those opposing fracking in Preston, Lancashire … but that bitter ruling does not destroy the reality that shortly before that decision we celebrated a Victory! The News of an Amazing Victory! We wrote of it as follows … The permission to...

The Invisible Machine – a gas pipeline in the Caucasus and a handshake in No10

On the evening of Thursday 26th April 2018, it was warm and sunny in London. President Ilham Aliyev strode down Downing Street and was met by Prime Minister Theresa May with smile and a handshake. They posed for the cameras on the red carpet outside No 10 and then retired inside. A short formal chat...

Aliyev re-elected as President for another 7 years – the chain of oil autocracy that binds Azerbaijan

On 18th April Ilham Aliyev will be inaugurated for the fourth time as President of Azerbaijan. His re-election comes as no surprise. It is so predictable that it barely counted as ‘news’ and consequently got next to no coverage in the international media. Originally the election was scheduled for 17th October, but at nine weeks...

Vive La Zad ! – in the midst of the tear gas, La Zad exists in our hearts

The police arrived at 03.00 am on the morning of Monday 9th April. The exact number is, of course, unclear but it is said that 2,500 officers in riot equipment, with crash helmets and visors, Perspex shields and plastic body armour were deployed. Two and a half thousand highly trained men appeared out of the...

Spring in the Thames Valley – The extraordinary resistance of the more than human

  Even in the dark the Blackbird sings. The bubbling song fills the night outside our bedroom window. You sleep silently, the bedclothes rising and falling, as the notes of the bird flow over you. Hours later, the grey light of dawn has come and with it the calls of Song Thrush and House Sparrow....