Postcolonial Climate Change: John Akomfrah and a discourse of difference

Clara de Massol

Edited by Muireann Crowley

Art by Sarah Summers https://www.instagram.com/ssssummers/

This article considers the ways in which postcolonial studies are integral to understanding climate change. Our planet is warming at an alarming rate; islands and coasts all around the planet are slowly drowning; and species are disappearing in the thousands each year as a result. In less than 100 years, climates and ecosystems will be completely altered; this will have profound implications on humanity in terms of our survival as well as our collective identity. In the last few years, the discussion around ecology and identity has crystallised around the concept of the Anthropocene, the name given to the geological epoch superseding the Holocene, in which human activity on earth becomes the main geological force. Confronting anthropogenic climate change involves destabilising the dominant cultural narratives regulating societies to understand and formulate the intersection of ecology and postcolonialism.

The Anthropocene was introduced by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer in 2000 and urges us to rethink our relationship to our planet and to the life forms inhabiting it. The Anthropocene debate, along with concepts of globalisation and cosmopolitanism create the illusion that ‘we are all in this together’ (Braidotti, 2017), that with the advent of climate and ecological disasters, a kind of planetary citizenship and solidarity has formed. But this apparent interdependence and planetary empathy is in fact a neoliberal system of differentiation and hierarchy. Butler explains that in this climate, ‘some lives are grievable, and others are not; the differential allocation of grievability that decides what kind of subject is and must be grieved, which kind of subject is not, operates to produce and maintain certain exclusionary conceptions of who is normatively human’ (2004, xiv).

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Continuing The Unfinished Conversation: Stuart Hall through the lens of John Akomfrah

The archive has been the space of intervention from the beginning. One of the few spaces, reservoirs of memory, for diasporic subjects is the archive.

John Akomfrah (2014)

Benjamin E.I. Lubbock

Edited by Maria Elena Carpintero Torres-Quevedo and Rianna Walcott

Art by Maïa Walcott https://maiawalcott98.wixsite.com/mysite

Memory and the moving image are John Akomfrah’s materials. In The Unfinished Conversation, a three-screen video installation, his subject matter is the formation of identity, which, for individuals struggling to define themselves in their social contexts, is a matter of urgency. It is not easy to explain how identities are created, and there are few who have considered the matter in greater depth than Stuart Hall, around whom the film revolves. Born in Jamaica before immigrating to Oxford, Hall became editor-in-chief of the New Left Review and a founding figure of the New Left movement. He was an activist, regularly televised for his analyses of media reports, and co-authored seminal texts such as The Popular Arts (1964), which advanced the claim that film, media and pop culture should be taken seriously as objects of study. But what he was arguably most renowned for were his theories of identity: “Identity is formed at the intersection between the political and the personal” (Hall, 2013).

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Interview with Professor Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o

Interview by Tanuj Raut

Edited by Rianna Walcott

Art by Maïa Walcott https://maiawalcott98.wixsite.com/mysite

I think that Greek mythology should be taught comparatively with African, Norse, Scandinavian, Icelandic and Asian mythologies. They are all very exciting and it is not necessary to put them in a hierarchical relationship to each other. Let them network.

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Launch Night Excerpts

Art by Priyanka Meenakshi https://www.priyankameenakshi.com/

We celebrated Project Myopia with a beautiful launch event towards the end of semester 2. It was a night of music and poetry, as well as an opportunity for some of our contributors to elaborate on their essays and ideas. Our performers touched on a wide range of serious issues: from the exclusion of racial minorities’ contribution to the canon of literature, to the oppressive nature of zero-hour contracts that prevent tutors from being able to fully engage in helping all students get ahead, let alone those from a minority background who need assistance most. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who performed and shared their experiences, and we also have to thank everyone who attended and helped us drink the wine we provided! Project Myopia aims to bring marginalized people together and amplify their voices, and our launch felt like a perfect culmination of our semester’s work: people came together and shared their experiences of an academic world we need to change.

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‘Cashmere’ by the Swet Shop Boys

Ketaki Zodgekar

Edited by Karli Wessale

Art by Raj Dhunna http://rajdhunna.co.uk/

Cashmere is a rap album by the ‘Swet Shop Boys’: a duo comprised of Riz Ahmed, a British actor, known for his work in ‘Four Lions’ and Heems, an American rapper, known for being a member of ‘Das Racist’, both are of South Asian descent. The Swet Shop Boys rap about contemporary social and political issues which face the South Asian diaspora, sound tracked by traditional music from the Indian Subcontinent.

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Julian of Norwich: England’s forgotten first

Katherine Dixon 

Editing by: Vicki Madden

Art: ‘The Young Virgin’, Francisco de Zurbarán

Julian of Norwich, an early fifteenth century East Anglian anchoress, and important Christian mystic and theologian, is the first person to draw attention to her own limitations as a woman. She makes it clear that she is unable to serve as a teacher to her reader, ‘For I am a woman, lewed, febille, and freylle’ (ST 7). Julian pens this admission close to the beginning of her writings, in which she wonderfully and wisely documents a divine visionary experience she had whilst deathly ill in 1373 and on which she continued to ruminate over the course of her subsequent life of enclosure in a Norwich anchorhold. In contrast to her contemporary counterparts, Margery Kempe in particular, Julian is often unduly overlooked in every strand of medieval studies despite being uncontestably deserving of canonical status, not least because she is the first woman ever known to write in the English language.

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Chewing Gum

Maygan Eugenie Forbes
Editing by Rianna Walcott

Art: ‘Relax Yourself’ by Olivia Twist

http://www.yesoliviatwist.com/

The first episode of Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum opens with Tracey staring longingly at the crotch of her righteous boyfriend whilst he prays away impure thoughts, a scene frequently intercut with a frenzied montage of Tracey in orgasmic throes with her lover. She is swiftly brought out of her fevered daydream and shoved back down to Earth, when her celibate partner ends the prayer with a clipped “Amen”.  As she is leaving her boyfriend’s house, Tracey turns to the camera and says, “sometimes he lets me stay and watch him sleep, I could never do that though because when I sleep I get wet dreams.”

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The Line of Beauty, Allan Hollinghurst

Review by Nuzha Nuseibeh
Editing by Cristina Dodson Castillon and Rianna Walcott

Art: ‘Italian Model’ by John Singer Sargeant

On the face of it, a novel about a young, gay man living in 1980s London has little to do with me. For one thing, I am not a man, nor was I alive in the eighties. Nevertheless, when I first read Allan Hollinghurst’s seminal novel, The Line of Beauty, it struck a surprisingly resonant chord.

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