On Racial Injury: Fighting the Dilution of Anti-Racist Legislation Is More Important Than Anti-Racist Legislation

Last year, following the terrorist attack in Nice, I met a European friend and colleague at a conference in Milan. I asked him how his Palestinian boyfriend was, a lovely man I have grown to care about. My colleague visibly upset informed me that his boyfriend has had a series of mishaps: a few weeks ago he was racially attacked by skinheads and was hurt seriously enough to need hospitalization. While in hospital, he was watching the news on TV when he saw the Nice terrorist drive his truck through the crowd. He was so affected that he had a violent seizure. Still feeling fragile and not fully together because of his racial bashing, the Nice event, beside its immediate…

Governmentality and the Management of the Circulation of ‘Extreme’ Ideas

In October 2016, the University of Sussex published its Freedom of Speech Code of Practice1 and its accompanying External Speakers’ Procedure.2 Like the many recent ‘Freedom of Speech’ or ‘External Speaker’ policies across higher education institutions in the UK, the main objective of these policies is to ensure University compliance with the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (CTSA). CTSA section 26 places the Prevent pillar of CONTEST on a statutory footing and requires that ‘due regard [is had] to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. Prevent is designed to ‘tackle extremism’ by ‘de-’ or ‘counter-radicalising’ persons and environments at ‘risk’. Under CTSA guidance, higher education institutions are to take steps to ensure compliance with Prevent. …

Al Khan al Ahmar, international law and the paradox of hope

Imagine living day after day unsure of when your home will be demolished. That will most likely mean having to quickly move elsewhere out of necessity, not out of choice. Will you be able to salvage some of your belongings, comfort your traumatised children as a bulldozer tears apart the memories of happier times laughing with loved ones in the comfort of your sitting room? And if you have to move so suddenly, how will you support your family, while you find a new job and possible source of income? For the Jahalin Bedouin living in makeshift dwellings in Al Khan al Ahmar and other Bedouin tribes living in villages scattered across the Israeli-occupied West Bank, waiting for that moment…

‘We did this’: Collective Guilt & the Tuam Mass Grave

“We all partied”: Fianna Fáil Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s infamous phrase, in the early years of the financial crisis, encapsulated the drive, on the part of Ireland’s political and media establishment, to broaden collective responsibility for social and economic calamity as far as possible. The objective in mind was the socialisation of private banking debt, racked up by property speculators, and the corresponding cuts to public spending and services. In recent days, following the confirmation that eight hundred dead babies were interred in a septic tank at a former ‘Mother-and-Baby’ home in Tuam, there has been a similar dynamic in operation. In the characteristically overwrought tones that Ireland’s current Taoiseach reserves for moments of national outrage, Enda Kenny told the…

Europe must go back to the school of the world. As a student

In order to learn, Europe must be willing to un-learn many of its self-conceptions and many of its conceptions about the non-European world that brought it to its present place. Europe and the Global North as a whole are being assailed by a feeling of historical and political exhaustion. After five centuries of imposing its solutions on the world, Europe seems unable to solve its own problems and hands their resolution to multinationals, through free trade treaties whose purpose is to eliminate the last vestiges of the social cohesion and environmental awareness that have been achieved after the Second World War. In the USA, Donald Trump emerges more as a consequence than a cause of the disaggregation of a highly…

Zombie Capitalism and the Grinning Void

Please would you tell me,’ said Alice … ‘why your cat grins like that?’ ‘It’s a Cheshire-Cat,’ said the Duchess, and that’s why. Pig!’ She said the last word with such sudden violence that Alice quite jumped… ‘I didn’t know that Cheshire-Cats always grinned; in fact, I didn’t know that cats could grin.’ ‘They all can,’ said the Duchess; ‘and most of ‘em do’. ‘I don’t know of any that do,’ Alice said very politely… ‘You don’t know much’, said the Duchess; ‘and that’s a fact. (Carroll 2005, 82-3) Dorian Lynskey’s recent description of Milo Yiannoupoulos as a ‘smirking void’ (2017, np) recalled a scene from Wonderland, set in the Duchess’ pepper-polluted kitchen, which gripped me as a child with its…

#Strike4Repeal: Ireland’s Women’s Strike

This International Women’s Day sees women worldwide engaged in strike action. Irish women strike for repeal of the 8th Amendment: the constitutional provision which prohibits abortion except where the pregnant woman’s life is at risk, and the only means of avoiding that risk is to terminate it. But more than that, the law pledges the state to protect the right to life of the ‘unborn’, from the moment of implantation, against the actions of the woman who carries it. In recent years, this law has been used  to delay medical treatment to a woman suffering an inevitable miscarriage at the cost of her life; to keep a woman’s body on life support after brain-death in an attempt to prolong her second trimester pregnancy to viability;  to  forced Caesarean section…

Swedens of the Mind

This article was first published by Wildcat Dispatches: Speaking in Florida on Saturday 18 February, Donald Trump pledged to keep the United States safe from refugees, and pointed to catastrophes unfolding elsewhere as the reason: We’ve got to keep out country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Who believes it, however, is of significance only if we work through what it is they are being asked to believe. Trump inserted Sweden into a narrative chain that included the Daesh-related attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015-16, thus intimating that a ‘terrorist attack’ had taken place. No such attack had taken place, of course, and…

Police and Protest in the Banlieue

On February 2, 2017, in the banlieue municipality of Aulnay-sous-Bois (North-East), 22-year-old Black man Théo L. was raped by a police officer, while three others were holding him. As of today, Théo is still at the hospital suffering of a 3.5-inch-long tear of his anus. The video showing the crime was quickly spread, provoking outrage country-wide, and making it impossible for police officers to deny the anal penetration with a telescopic baton to which Théo was subjected. However, the officers and the service within the police in charge of the investigation have since made the outrageous claim that what happened was an accident, going as far as forming the phrase “deliberate rape” to describe what the situation was not according to them, in an extremely…

The problem with the past is that it doesn’t pass: On the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution (RR)1 and also the 150th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of Karl Marx’ Das Kapital. Combining the two historic dates may seem strange because Marx never wrote in detail about the revolution and communist society and, even if he had, it is unimaginable that what he might have written could bear any resemblance to what the Soviet Union (USSR) was, especially after Stalin took over the leadership of both the party and the State. The truth is that many of the discussions raised by Marx’ book during the 20th century outside the USSR were an indirect way of discussing the merits and demerits of the RR. Now…

Torture Works? Beccaria’s Forgotten Lesson

Power structures and governments will resort to euphemistic labelling in order to sanitize morally reprehensible or illegal behaviour — this is neither new nor surprising.  A textbook example is the G. W. Bush Jr. Administration who tried to immunize inter alia waterboarding against criticism by calling it an ‘enhanced interrogation technique’. The roots of this practice can be traced back thousands of years. Thucydides branded this stasis where we engineer a shift in semantics, so that ‘words fit in with the change of events’, as an effort ‘to disguise one’s unmanly character’ (Thucydides 3: 82). Whatever one’s opinion of the new POTUS, Donald J. Trump, we cannot, I think, accuse him of being ‘unmanly’ in the above Thucydidean sense. For…

The Control Room: War, Exception, Threat

If the machinery of intelligence-gathering and war is never switched off, then we have truly entered the permanent state of emergency. This 10-minute video essay looks at control rooms in film and television since the 1970s, and identifies an array of technological apparatuses that both manifest and make possible an increasingly distributed kind of sovereignty. These control rooms display a set of related technologies – virtualization, remote control, simulation, real-time processing, networked computing, graphical user interfaces – that have become commonplace in popular screen narratives about imagined threats to modern society. The transformation of the theatre of war into a virtual, audiovisual, theatrical experience is part of a broader, deeper transformation of modern experience itself, including politics, under the sway…

Open Letter to the Prime Minister from the UK Legal Academic Community

As the new US administration moves to enact a series of ever-more discriminatory policies, and as the material consequences of those policies begin to be felt around the world, those of us based in the UK face an additional blow as they watch their government throw its lot in with Trump’s. In response to this blow, we, a group of UK-based legal academics and academic support staff, decided that one relatively straightforward action we might take, as the first step in a wider strategy of resistance, would be to draft an open letter of protest to the Prime Minister. This initiative was born at Kent Law School and has been supported by colleagues at universities across the country. Here is…

The American Terrible

Someone recently asked me: if you don’t think Trump is a fascist, what do you think is going to happen? I answered her as truthfully as I could: I don’t know. The fact is: none of us knows. Not even, I suspect, Trump or Steve Bannon. In the course of several argumens and conversations over the last few days—about Trump, what he’s up to, and so on—I’ve sometimes found myself, against my better judgment, drifting into predictions. I start out trying to think about what this current moment means, and I wind up making claims about where we’re going. That’s not a place I want to be. Not simply because my prediction about the election was so completely wrong, not simply because I’m…

Interview with Walter Mignolo: Activism, Trajectory, and Key Concepts

Alvina Hoffmann Interviews Walter Mignolo.1 This interview first appeared in E-International Relations.   Where do you see the most exciting debates happening in the field of cultural theory? In general, the most interesting are the varieties of creative thinking and doing (publications, exhibits, artists, organizations, web networks) coming from the non-European regions of the planet and from immigrants in Western Europe and the US. I see a parallel between two apparently disconnected spheres of life: the closing of five hundred years of the forming and consolidation of Western Civilization (since the Renaissance and its darker side, coloniality) in the political, economic, diplomatic and military sphere and the closing of intellectual domination of Western thoughts (meaning Western Europe and the US,…

Catastrophe: Critical Legal Conference 2017 Call for Streams

Ten years ago, the so-called ‘Invisible Committee’ urged that ‘It is useless to wait…. To go on waiting is madness. The catastrophe is not coming, it is here. We are already situated within the collapse of a civilization. It is within this reality that we must choose sides.’ Over a decade before, Leonard Cohen had written; ‘This is the darkness, this is the flood. The catastrophe has already happpened and the question we now face is what is the appropriate behaviour.’ The 2017 Critical Legal Conference thus calls for streams, panels and papers that reflect upon ‘catastrophe’; on the catastrophes of our time and upon their interrelations; upon the questions of appropriate behaviours that might emerge and sides that might…

Spatial Justice and Diaspora: Foreword by Parvathi Raman

Spatial Justice and Diaspora, edited by Emma Patchett and Sarah Keenan, has just been published by Counterpress. We are pleased to republish the following foreword by Parvathi Raman, Chair of the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies, SOAS. When Emma Patchett and Sarah Keenan asked if I would write a foreword for their new edited volume, Spatial Justice and Diaspora, I was delighted to be able to make a small contribution to this important and timely new book. In our current political moment, we urgently require engaged scholarship on questions of space-making, the politics of diaspora, and the racialization of inequality. Global disparity has reached unprecedented levels. Mass displacement, fuelled by wars, environmental change and the gross disparity of wealth and opportunity,…

Boycott the National Student Survey

We are facing a truly pivotal moment in higher education. This government is set to usher in the full marketisation of the sector, with a wave of reforms which represent the most drastic shake-up in decades. Under the new proposals, market-oriented metrics will be used to raise tuition fees even further beyond the current £9000 cap, students will be pitted against academic staff who will have to endure even greater pressures, and the establishment of for-profit providers – which will run in direct competition with public institutions – will be actively encouraged by the government. Faced with multifaceted and somewhat unprecedented attacks to higher education, it is clear that today’s student movement must seek to deploy a diversity of different…

Mourning from Aleppo to Cairo: An Insight into Gillian Rose’s Third City

Be ahead of all departure, as if it were already behind you, like the winter which is almost over. For among winters there is one so endlessly winter, that, wintering through it, may your heart survive.1   In times when mourning is not allowed Rose’s insights echo the importance of mourning. In Mourning Becomes the Law, Gillian Rose drafts a path for mourners, one that is neither passive nor vengeful. It is a path of overcoming the limits of modernity and post-modernity, or maybe it was her path of working her way to death. These days Rose’s mourning has become abrogated to a passive form of mourning, one that doesn’t resolve our anger but grows it. Let me start by mapping…