Of Plastics and Brexit – the struggle against the new lords of oil & gas

On 16th January 2019 news was leaked through the German paper Handelsblatt of The Alliance to End Plastic Waste. A new industrial coalition that will invest $1billion over the next five years in a campaign to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the world. Here was a powerful body of major corporations determining to...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

Home is a Hostile Lover – ending the UK Government’s racist deportations regime

‘Home is a hostile lover’  a poem by Selina Nwulu is read from the concrete steps of Chelmsford Crown Court. London’s former young poet laureate, gives a powerful indictment of the UK’s ‘hostile environment’. Hundreds listen in the chill morning outside Chelmsford Crown Court to stand in solidarity with fifteen people who begin trial this week...

La Zad puts down roots – sensing the future

We’re in the middle of the crowd. Standing some way back from the stage, watching transfixed and elated at the performance of Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp. Two trombones, two drummers, two marimbas, two electric guitars, two cellos and five other musicians blast out such a blissful riot of sound that our souls sail above...

Communal Memory – the power of community to resist Shell in Nigeria

I’m holding in my hands a report published by Amnesty International in November last year – ‘A Criminal Enterprise? Shell’s involvement in human rights violations in Nigeria in the 1990s’. It analyses in forensic detail exactly how much Shell staff knew about, and were involved in supporting, the actions by the Nigerian military taken against...