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Introduction from the Editors We are prouder than ever to present the second issue of Juncture’s second volume and ask you to join us in celebrating the quality, diversity and drive which shine through in this collection of pieces. Juncture is a crossroads for the ideas, projects and visions of society and contemporary politics in Manchester – this is undeniably exemplified by these published pieces of work. Thank you to all those involved in the process including every staff member in the Politics Department who has made this publication possible, particularly Dr. Adrienne Roberts and Dr. Carl Death for their regular support and guidance. We would also like to thank Matthew Perry and Emma Schicker, co-founders of Juncture, who have continuously offered their support, enthusiasm and advice throughout this period leading up to the issue’s publication. Our biggest thank you goes out to all those students who submitted work, especially to the contributors who have allowed us the honour of featuring their pieces in Juncture’s fourth ever issue. With each new issue, the number of submissions received, and their quality have continued to exceed our expectations. This has led to the board inevitably having to set rigorous criteria and standards in selecting pieces to publish, meaning at times having to reject other quality pieces, but we hope you will find that those brought together in this issue exemplify depth and analytic rigour, novelty, along with variety in both their perspectives and ideas. Our peer-reviewing process involves a lengthy procedure in which each submission is given due attention. First, each piece of work submitted to Juncture is critically reviewed by a minimum of two members of the editorial board, who impartially deliver their honest opinion of the quality of the work and consider its fit for the journal’s criteria. Next, we discuss the submission as a team and the peer-reviewers justify their thoughts to us. Only after this process is a shortlist of the pieces then produced, on which each editor anonymously votes for the pieces they’d like to see in the final issue, based on the merit of the work, its analytic rigour, its fit for the journal and its ingenuity. Not only do we believe this makes everything fair and unbiased for all those involved during the process, but it means student work is selected by and for students based on quality alone. We then conduct a two-stage editing procedure, corresponding with the contributors when necessary for minor alterations and clarifications on their pieces, before finalising the issue and publishing both online and in print. As the first contribution in this issue, Elizabeth Wallis starts us off by exploring the clashing social identities seen in France, focusing on the question of ‘Who do we think we are?’ and demonstrating how social identity is constructed both through difference and power relations (pp.1-11). Next, Benjamin Hart considers the relationship between security and insecurity, keenly developing a postructuralist approach to security studies (pp.12-20) We then delve into the realm of British politics as John Ayshford considers the different forms which anti-fascism can take, making use of interwar Britain as a case study (pp.21-27). Next, Charlie Wilson investigates the relationship between Fabianism and other forms of social of socialism, suggesting that Fabianism socialism may considerably, and perhaps at first surprisingly, overlap with various forms of Social Democracy (pp.28-37). Next, James Rogers critically assesses the problem of inconsequentialism, focusing on the use of a particular notion of respect to resolve the issue of inconsequentialism in the face of potential environmental devastation (pp.38-44).We then turn to another philosophically-focused area of study, with Nat Hoskyns exploring competing theories of rights with respect to children, suggesting that their rights should be grounded in their broader interests (pp.45-52). Peter Heath


then assesses the harms done to women by pornography, justifying his argument that it is harmful on the basis of exploitation of women’s vulnerabilities, as well as the commodification of harm done to them (pp.53-62). Broadening our focus to the international sphere, our next contributor Lola Jaccod, through making use of practice theory in the case of Syria as a backdrop, investigates the influence of everyday practices within the UN Security Council on its decision-making (pp.63-73). Edward Hacking then explores the perpetuated myth that the African continent is inherently and especially corrupt, through the use of Nigeria as a primary case study. He asserts that such a view fails to appropriately consider and acknowledge issues which are rooted in Africa’s colonial past (pp.7488). Within a similar vein, Keira Raftery investigates the colonial myths of the African wilderness, suggesting that such myths not only delegitimise the presence of African people on African land but also erase both historic and continuing processes of dispossession (pp.89-106). Next, Molly Maple assesses the myth that Africa is ‘un-feminist’, suggesting that we ought to seriously reconsider Africa’s relationship with feminism (pp.107-121). Still within the international realm, Elizabethpeace Onwuka-Okoye conducts a postcolonial critical assessment of missionary activities during the 19th century in Uganda in relationship to LGBT communities. In her dissertation, she asserts that Uganda’s contemporary political behaviour towards homosexuality is in fact a reflection of its colonial past (pp.122-147). Lastly, we conclude with Daniel Ramsell’s dissertation which critically assesses the influence and ensuing consequences of inclusion and austerity in policy for children and young people with educational needs and disabilities in England since 2010 (pp.148-170). We hope that this overview exposes you to the complexity and rich variety of arguments and ideas raised in the contributions. We invite you to delve deeper in exploration through reading on and discussing and debating these ideas with others. If you would like to get in contact with us to provide any comments, feedback or receive details about the authors, we would love to hear from you. As an undergraduate, you can submit your work at any time by filling out the submission form available on our website and emailing it to us with your work. Once more, thank you to all those involved. We hope you enjoy reading. Sincerely, The Juncture Team www.junctureuom.co.uk juncture.editor@gmail.com


Contents

When identities clash: Muslims and the West in the context of the Charlie Hebdo attacks

1-11

Elizabeth Wallis What Is the Relationship Between Security and Insecurity?

12-20

Benjamin Hart They Shall Not Pass – Anti-fascism in Interwar Britain

21-27

John Ayshford Fabianism and Social Democracy: Locating Fabian State Collectivism within the

28-37

Socialist Tradition Charlie Wilson Is there a cogent solution to the problem of inconsequentialism?

38-44

James Rogers Children’s Rights – an Exploration of How Children Possess Rights Under the

45-52

Interest Theory Nat Hoskyns Does Pornography harm women?

53-62

Peter Heath Do practices matter? The impact of practices on the Security Council’s decision-

63-73

making in the case of Syria Lola Jaccod Corruption as One of the Most Powerful Myths about Africa, and How It Is Resisted Edward Hacking

74-88


Accumulation by Mythology: Conservationism and the Myth of the African Wilderness

89-106

Keira Raftery Rethinking the Myth that Africa is ‘Un-feminist’

107-121

Molly Maple “Pray the gay away” – A Postcolonial Examination of Missionary Activities in

122-147

19th Century Uganda Elizabethpeace Onwuka-Okoye An analysis of the influence of inclusion and austerity in SEND policy in England since 2010 Daniel Ramsell

Editorial Team Chief Editors Olivia Flett Anna-Maria Köhnke

Board Members Vinitha Martheo – Secretary Rohan Dronsfield Bianca Getzel Peter Heath William Phillips Eleanor Regan James Rogers Joshua Wakeford Edward White

148-170


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When identities clash: Muslims and the West in the context of the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

Elizabeth Wallis, 2nd Year Essay BA Politics and French

Abstract: This essay explores the question: ‘who do we think we are?’. It demonstrates how social identity is constructed through difference and power relations. It makes reference to Saïd’s work on Orientalism and concludes that the West created the East and the ‘other’, using the Disney film Aladdin to demonstrate how Orientalism still features in popular culture today. Further to this argument, the discussion highlights opposing identities, through the example of ‘Muslim’ and ‘French’ identities in the Headscarf Affair, and more recently in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, which left many French Muslims with the impossible choice between being French and being Muslim. The essay briefly addresses the freedom of speech movement ‘Je Suis Charlie’ and French republican values. It could be of use to identity politics students, sociology students and students studying republicanism. There is a brief discussion on the work of Foucault and discourse.

An Introduction to the Question: ‘Who do we think we are?’ In this essay, I will be exploring the question ‘who do we think we are?’. This immediately begs the further question of whom we are discussing: who is the ‘we’ and what is our shared identity? I will be discussing the identity of the ‘Western, enlightened, rational individual’ that has given people, for the most part Europeans and North Americans, a common identity and created a collective. I will be discussing how this social identity has been created and how it has been strengthened due to the creation of an ‘other’; namely, the non-western, less developed, irrational ‘other’, to which we are thought to be separate and opposed. I will show this through Edward Saïd’s theory of Orientalism.1 This dichotomy of ‘us’ and ‘them’ (or the ‘other’) was brought to global attention following the Paris attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in January 2015. The aftermath of the attacks saw a movement of ‘Charlisme’, or what is known as ‘The Charlie Effect’, that forced a 1

Saïd, E. (1978), Orientalism, New York: Random House.


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social mandate on French citizens, and the global community, to adhere to this identity of a ‘Western, enlightened, rational individual’, in spite of some of the possibly contentious views it is associated with. I shall conclude that group identity is largely constructed through difference and the creation of opposing groups strengthening social identities, further promoting social behaviour in line with that identity. What came first, our identity or us? Identity can be recognised by one definition – for there are many – as “how a person understands his or her relationship to the world, how that relationship is constructed across time and space, and how the person understands possibilities for the future”. 2 Similarly, a social identity concerns how we identify our similarities and differences to other known groups of individuals. “Social identity is an on-going interplay between how we identify ourselves and how others identify us”. 3 This highlights the relational nature of identity. Positivist theories outline that identity exists prior to our existence and is a concept that is part of the fabric of global politics. This could be due to our sex, race, ethnicity or other such factors that are present from birth. It assumes the world exists outside our human creation. I argue, rather, that social identification is learnt and is artificial: we construct our identities. Dynamic approaches to identity argue that identity changes over time and it is not static. Wibben contends that: “who we are is always a matter of becoming rather than one of being”.4 This dynamic approach to identity highlights social interactions and discourses or situations, as being important in the gradual creation of identity. Power is similarly important for understanding how identities are constructed from a post-positivist perspective. Michel Foucault, in his work on power and knowledge, states: “the individual is not a pre-given entity […], the individual, with his identity and characteristics, is the product of a relation of power exercised over bodies, multiplicities, movements, desires, [and] forces”.5 Power creates hierarchies in relationships and can lead to the hegemony of one group, widening the disparity between group identities. In this way, social identities

2

Norton, B. (2000), Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity and educational change, Harlow: Pearson Education, p.5.

Code, J. and Zaparyniuk, N. (2010), “Social Identities, Group Formation, and the Analysis of Online Communities”, in D. Subhasish (ed.), (2010), Social Computing: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (Volume III), London: Information Science Reference, pp.1346-1361. 3

Wibben, A. (2008), “Who do we think we are?”, in J. Edkins and M. Zeyfuss (eds.), (2008), Global Politics: A New Introduction, London: Routledge, p.87. 4

Foucault, M. (1980), Power/knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, translated from French by C. Gordon et al., New York: Pantheon Books, pp.73-74. 5


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can be strengthened when contrasted to another group, as “differentiation reaffirms an individual’s social identity”.6 Identity? What identity? The identity of a ‘Western, enlightened, rational individual’ has been a fairly modern creation. It arguably first emerged during the Enlightenment when universal rights were formally recognised, and equality was highlighted as an important goal in modern societies. These values can be seen in the American Declaration of Independence where it states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.7 This has been called “one of the bestknown sentences in the English language”.8 Similarly, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen,9 also emphasised equality and freedom as two important values for enlightened citizens. It states in Article 10 that “no one may be disturbed for his opinions, even religious ones, provided that their manifestation does not trouble the public order established by the law”, 10 and goes on to say in Article 11 that “the free communication of thoughts and of opinions is one of the most precious rights of man: any citizen thus may speak, write, print freely, except to respond to the abuse of this liberty, in the cases determined by the law”.11 The influence of these documents cannot be understated in creating a social identity that aligns with the principles of equality and freedom. In the Western world, we believe that we are fortunate to be born into societies where people are granted civil liberties such as freedom of thought and freedom of expression, as well as many other liberal and political rights, which we value highly. These values are intrinsic to our identity. An example of this is the right to free press and a lack of censorship on media – a concept that will become important during my discussion on the Charlie Hebdo attacks. To oppose these values openly is to be seen as opposing rationality and the identity of the ‘Western, enlightened citizen’. It is seen as a threat to individual rights, which is frowned upon in an increasingly individualistic world. In this way, our identity can shape our opinions and values, creating a group that is exclusionary and hostile to difference.

Code, J. and Zaparyniuk, N. (2010), “Social Identities, Group Formation, and the Analysis of Online Communities”, in D. Subhasish (ed.), (2010), Social Computing: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (Volume III), London: Information Science Reference, p.1348. 7 Encyclopaedia Britannica (2018), Declaration of Independence (1776). 8 Lucas, S. (1989), “Justifying America: The Declaration of Independence as a Rhetorical Document”, in T. Benson (ed.), (1989), American Rhetoric: Context and Criticism, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, p.85. 6

Le Barbier, J.J. (1789), The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. Ibid. 11 Ibid. 9

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A Whole New World: The ‘Other’ As mentioned, one way in which our identity is strengthened is through difference. Identity is created in relation to an ‘other’. Anna Triandafyllidou explains this concept: “the whole perception by each individual of the surrounding world is based on the distinction between the in-group […] [and] those belonging to other communities, the ‘others’”. 12 Edward Saïd identified this concept of creating an ‘other’ in his work on Orientalism.13 Saïd contends that in much of Western scholarship, “under the general heading of knowledge of the Orient and within the umbrella of Western hegemony over the Orient during the period from the end of the 18 th century”,14 authors portray a patronising view of non-Western cultures. Indeed, this differentiation, according to Triandafyllidou, justifies and makes “real this divided view of the world, […] cultural traits, myths, traditions, historical territories form an integral part of the distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’”. 15 Saïd highlights the distaste that can arise if we do not understand another culture or way of life. In Western scholarship, he saw that there was stereotyping of the Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. Saïd identified what he called a “textual attitude” of the many writers commenting on Middle East or Asia, where no sources from the cultures that are discussed are cited; instead only second-hand accounts.16 He says: “it seems a common human failing to prefer the schematic authority of a text to the disorientations of direct encounters with the human”.17 One prominent example was how Eastern, particularly Arab, women were seen as exotic, mysterious and therefore incomprehensible. This manifestation of Orientalism is still present in Western society and has penetrated much of the popular culture we enjoy today. The well-known Disney film Aladdin,18 thought of as a childhood classic by many in the West, has been criticised for its portrayal of the Arab world. Aladdin's opening theme song, ‘Arabian Nights’, features the lyrics: “Oh, I come from a land, from a faraway place, Where the caravan camels roam. Where they cut off your ear

12

Triandafyllidou, A. (1998), “National identity and the ‘other’”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21(4), p.593.

Saïd, E. (1978), Orientalism, New York: Random House. Ibid., p.7. 15 Triandafyllidou, A. (1998), “National identity and the ‘other’”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21(4), p.597. 16 Saïd, E. (1978), Orientalism, New York: Random House, p.98. 17 Ibid. 18 Clements, R. and Muster, J. (Directors), (1992), Aladdin (Film), Burbank: Walt Disney Pictures. 13 14


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If they don't like your face, It's barbaric, but hey, it’s home”.19 The lyrics conjure up images of a place of mystery that is significantly different from the audience's known world and therefore somewhere they cannot relate to. The line “where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face, it's barbaric, but hey, it's home” demonises these people and portrays Aladdin's home as barbaric, if not, wild.20 Once more, the cultural identity of the ‘Arab’, created by the song, opposes the rationality of the ‘Western, enlightened individual’ and creates the uncivilised ‘other’. It is unsurprising to discover that, after complaints, Disney changed part of the lyrics. This may seem a somewhat trivial example of how identity is created; however, our identity is shaped through our knowledge and experiences of the world from a young age. The use of language in particular can lead to the creation of an ‘other’, which in turn can strengthen the identities which oppose each other. The language chosen to describe others, especially people or concepts foreign to us, instantly creates connections and forms ideas about their character. Popular culture is a powerful tool: “movies that children watch for enjoyment and pleasure rather than instruction unfortunately leave a deeper imprint on a fresh, impressionable mind than does an unexciting textbook”.21 Conflicting Identities: France and ‘The Headscarf Affair’ I have demonstrated how a clash of identities can create alienation of other cultures. Two group identities saw this clash and came into direct conflict in France during ‘L’Affaire du Foulard’ or ‘The Headscarf Affair’ in 1989. This series of events was sparked by dissent from secular laws in France, better known as the concept of ‘laïcité’. Laïcité constitutes the: “foundations of the French educational system and its philosophical principle”.22 It has become synonymous with French identity and a cardinal value of French Republicanism. In France, the laws of laïcité have been in place since 1905. Benhabib expands on the term:

Ibid. Ibid. 21 Abukhattala, I. (2004), “The New Bogeyman Under The Bed: Image Formation Of Islam in the Western School Curriculum and Media”, in J. Kincheloe and S. Steinberg (eds.), (2004), The Miseducation of the West: How Schools and the Media Distort Our Understanding of the Islamic World, London: Praeger, p.159. 19 20

Benhabib, S. (2008), “L’Affaire du Foulard (The Headscarf Affair)”, in D. Coulter and J. Wiens (eds.), (2008), Why do we Educate? Renewing the Conversation (Volume I), Malden: National Society for the Study of Education, p.102. 22


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“Hard to translate with terms such as the ‘separation of church and state’ or even ‘secularization’; at its best, it [laïcité] can be understood as the public and manifest neutrality of the state toward all kinds of religious practices, institutionalised through a vigilant removal of sectarian religious symbols, signs, icons, and items of clothing from official public spheres”.23 These laws were questioned, however, during ‘The Headscarf Affair’. Events began when three scarf-wearing Muslim girls were expelled from their school in October 1989. These reerupted, seven years later, with the exclusion of 23 Muslim girls in November 1996. Throughout the late 1990s and well into the early 21st century, confrontations between school authorities and young Muslim girls and women continued.24 A tension was therefore created for these girls between their identities both as French citizens and as Muslims, forcing them to choose which was more important. They could not both wear their headscarves to school, showing an ostensible display of religion, and claim to be secular French citizens. According to the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII), French identity surpasses one’s cultural identity and immigrants must adhere to the values of the Republic (as stated in its immigration documents: “le dépassement des valeurs d’origine et l’adhésion à des valeurs communes qui sont celles de la République”). 25 The irony of the purported universal values of French citizenship is that such citizenship is really a predominantly “Judeo-Christian” identity.26 It is therefore largely based on the traditions of this group, due to the history of the country, and can seem hostile towards others, as seen in the conflicts between the French State and the French Muslim community. This hostility towards the ‘other’, who is culturally different, especially in France towards Muslims, has grown into an almost tangible Islamophobia in more recent years. This phenomenon, as well as the apparent tension between the French and Muslim identities, was brought to the international stage following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015. Charlie Hebdo: ‘Je Suis Charlie’ On 7th January 2015, two armed gunmen (brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi) entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine (a well-known satirical publication) in Paris, killing twelve people 23 24

Ibid. Ibid.

L’Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII) (2011), Immigrer en France (Immigrating to France). Bowen, J. (2010), Can Islam Be French? Pluralism and Pragmatism in a Secularist State, Princeton: Princeton University Press, p.8. 25 26


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and injuring eleven others. In video footage taken outside the offices, the self-identified Islamist attackers are seen to be saying: “we have avenged the prophet Mohammed, we have killed Charlie Hebdo”.27 The attack came in response to a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed published in the magazine, which was seen by Muslims to be blasphemous. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the Twitter hashtag ‘#JeSuisCharlie’, which showed solidarity with the victims, grew in unprecedented numbers. It featured in 3.4 million tweets in just one 24-hour period.28 The phrase ‘Je Suis Charlie’ offers a double meaning, which is sometimes lost on the international audience: in French, it means both ‘I am Charlie’ and ‘I follow Charlie’. This simple yet powerful tagline evolved into a global movement for the protection of freedom of expression (to follow how Charlie Hedbo tested its boundaries on a weekly basis) and for denouncing the violent attacks on the magazine artists, and others. By using language that stated that they both ‘follow’ and ‘are’ Charlie, the French people (and the global community) strengthened their identity and stood in defiance of threats to their beliefs and values. A ‘Republican March’ following the attacks took place in Paris on 11 th January 2015, as well as in cities across France, in solidarity with the victims, who, according to the President of the French Republic François Hollande, “died because of their vision of France, namely freedom”. 29 Crowds took to the streets with banners of ‘Je Suis Charlie’ and traced the route of many key places related to the history of Republicanism, such as Place de la République and Place de la Nation. Freedom of expression was the main theme of the ‘Republican March’, as this value was seen to be threatened: “today it is the Republic as a whole that has been attacked. The Republic equals freedom of expression; the Republic equals culture, creation, it equals pluralism and democracy. That is what the assassins were targeting”.30 Freedom of expression and secularism is very much associated with the French identity. These ideas hail from the Enlightenment, with philosophers such as Voltaire, who is linked with this ideology and the famous apocryphal phrase: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.31 It also adheres to the wider social identity and rationality of the ‘Western, enlightened individual’. The ‘Charlisme’ was clearly opposed to the irrational, nonsecular attackers who were strongly against complete freedom of expression. Once more the ‘other’ was created, to be opposed to, in media and political reactions. There emerged a “social and political

BBC (2015), “Charlie Hebdo: Gun attack on French magazine kills 12”, 7 January. Whitehead, T. (2015), “Paris Charlie Hebdo attack: Je Suis Charlie hashtag one of most popular in Twitter history”, The Telegraph, 9 January. 29 Hollande, F. (2015), Attack against Charlie Hebdo Statement by Mr. François Hollande, President of the Republic. 30 Ibid. 31 Hall, E.B. (1906), The Friends of Voltaire, London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, p.198. 27 28


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pressure on Muslims […] [to] declare themselves to be ‘Charlie’”. 32 To be good French citizens, and adhere to the values of the enlightened individual, the Muslim community had to acknowledge that this “meant not that you had the right to blaspheme, but that it was your duty”. 33 The Muslim Minority Once more, power is seen to have an effect on our identity. Charlie Hebdo has been described as “an equal-opportunity offender: Muslims, Jews and Christians — not to mention politicians of all stripes — have been targets of buffoonish, vulgar caricatures and cartoons that push every hot button with glee”.34 This fact did not entirely guarantee an equal impact on groups featured in the mocking cartoons, due to the failure “to acknowledge the relative power (or powerlessness) of targets”. 35 Despite the growing number of Muslim immigrants in France, Muslims remain a minority group. According to the non-profit organisation Institut Montaigne, Muslims represent “5.6 % of the population in mainland France” whereas “over 47% of those aged 15 and over identify as ‘Christian’” and “37% as no religion”.36 The provocative cartoons in Charlie Hebdo, and subsequent Muslims’ reactions to these, unfortunately provided ammunition for the “growing Islamophobia and antiMuslim hate throughout politics, media and civil society”. 37 It is also worth taking note that what Mondon and Winter are describing is a “liberal form of Islamophobia” which puts into opposition the “progressive West against a reactionary Islam”.38 That said, following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the distinction between these forms of Islamophobia was increasingly ambiguous. It became particularly apparent when politicians began using the language of war and of an ‘enemy’. The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and President François Hollande both used this rhetoric of war in reaction to the January 2015 Paris attacks and later in November 2015, when a further series of coordinated attacks targeted the capital city, to the point of evoking ‘the enemy within’, reminiscent of life during

Kiwan, N. (2016), “Freedom of thought in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks”, French Cultural Studies, 27(3), p.238. 32

Todd, E. (2015), Who is Charlie? Xenophobia and the new middle class, translated from French by A. Brown, Cambridge: Polity Press, p.3. 33

New York Times (2015), “The Charlie Hebdo Massacre in Paris”, 7 January. Mondon, A. and Winter, A. (2017), “Charlie Hebdo, Republican secularism and Islamophobia”, in G. Titley et al. (eds.), (2017), After Charlie Hebdo: Terror, Racism and Free Speech, London: Zed Books, p.41. 34 35

Institut Montaigne (2016), A French Islam is possible, p.13. Mondon, A. and Winter, A. (2017), “Charlie Hebdo, Republican secularism and Islamophobia”, in G. Titley et al. (eds.), (2017), After Charlie Hebdo: Terror, Racism and Free Speech, London: Zed Books, p.41. 38 Ibid. 36 37


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an occupied France.39 Once again, the ‘other’ was created in the form of Islam and its values that directly challenge the identity of the ‘Western, rational, enlightened individual’. The images in Charlie Hebdo exacerbated this dichotomy and acted like a springboard “and response for the ‘Islam versus Western liberal values/freedom of speech’ discourse”.40 In this way, as with ‘The Headscarf Affair’, identities directly clashed, sparking public action and were therefore strengthened in unity against the ‘other’. A Conclusion In this essay, I have explored the question of ‘who do we think we are?’. My initial discussion focussed on how identity is an artificial creation and that our identity is dynamic, rather than fixed and exclusively pre-determined from birth. My argument has led to the conclusion that identity, more specifically social identity, is constructed through difference. I have also shown how power can directly influence and affect our identity through hierarchies and through shaping discourse, following the work of Michel Foucault. The most powerful way in which this is manifested is through the creation of an ‘other’, to which we are fundamentally different and opposed. Following Triandafyllidou’s argument, I have shown that by producing an exclusionary group, the in-group is strengthened in unity against outsiders who can threaten the values held by the collective.41 I cited the works of Edward Saïd in his discussion of Orientalism,42 and explored how the West created the East and the ‘other’: a cultural identity so different to our own that it could not be comprehended and therefore was reduced to stereotypes and looked down upon or dehumanised. This moulded a Western hegemony over the East. I have argued that this purported Western superiority continues to be present and can be seen in Western popular culture today. I have illustrated this through my remarks on the Disney film Aladdin,43 which painted an unrealistic and prejudiced portrait of the Arab world as being barbaric. I have further demonstrated this phenomenon of opposing identities through the example of Muslims and French citizens (and the ‘Western, enlightened, rational’ community) in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in 2015. I have discussed how the tensions between the Muslim identity and the French identity heightened “the ‘Islam versus Western liberal

Bansal, N. et al. (2017), “A Decade of Postcolonial Crisis: Fracture Rupture and Apartheid (2005– 2015)”, in N. Bansal et al. (eds.), (2017), The Colonial Legacy in France, translated from French by A. Persteiner, Indiana: Indiana University Press, pp.1-2. 39

Mondon, A. and Winter, A. (2017), “Charlie Hebdo, Republican secularism and Islamophobia”, in G. Titley et al. (eds.), (2017), After Charlie Hebdo: Terror, Racism and Free Speech, London: Zed Books, p.41. 41 Triandafyllidou, A. (1998), “National identity and the ‘other’”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21(4), p.597. 42 Saïd, E. (1978), Orientalism, New York: Random House. 43 Clements, R. and Muster, J. (Directors), (1992), Aladdin (Film), Burbank: Walt Disney Pictures. 40


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values/freedom of speech’ discourse”,44 and how this left many French Muslims faced with the impossible choice between being French and being Muslim. The central French values of ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’, which have been exported to the whole of the Western world, may have a shade of irony when the universality is lost. We should take seriously the true meaning behind these values of Republicanism and apply them to society in the West and globally. In order to fully realise the liberal values of freedom, rationality and equality, we need to become more open to other cultures who do not necessarily oppose us, as we have been made to think, but are culturally different, and realise how our power as a mainstream and majority group in the West leads us to a prejudiced position on the ‘other’. Who, after all, do we think we are? References Abukhattala, I. (2004), “The New Bogeyman Under The Bed: Image Formation Of Islam in the Western School Curriculum and Media”, in J. Kincheloe and S. Steinberg, S. (eds.), (2004), The Miseducation of the West: How Schools and the Media Distort Our Understanding of the Islamic World, London: Praeger, pp.153-170. Bansal, N., Blanchard, P. and Thomas, D. (2017), “A Decade of Postcolonial Crisis: Fracture Rupture and Apartheid (2005– 2015)”, in N. Bansal, P. Blanchard and D. Thomas (eds.), (2017), The Colonial Legacy in France, translated from French by A. Persteiner, Indiana: Indiana University Press, pp.1-42. BBC (2015), “Charlie Hebdo: Gun attack on French magazine kills 12”, 7 January. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30710883, (Accessed: 9 January 2019). Benhabib, S. (2008), “L’Affaire du Foulard (The Headscarf Affair)”, in D. Coulter and J. Wiens (eds.), (2008), Why do we Educate? Renewing the Conversation (Volume I), Malden: National Society for the Study of Education, pp.100-111. Bowen, J. (2010), Can Islam Be French? Pluralism and Pragmatism in a Secularist State, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Clements, R. and Muster, J. (Directors), (1992), Aladdin (Film), Burbank: Walt Disney Pictures. Code, J. and Zaparyniuk, N. (2010), “Social Identities, Group Formation, and the Analysis of Online Communities”, in D. Subhasish (ed.), (2010), Social Computing: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (Volume III), London: Information Science Reference, pp.1346-1361. Le Barbier, J.J. (1789), The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. Available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b52410.html, (Accessed: 9 January 2019). Institut Montaigne (2016), A French Islam is possible, pp.1-105. Available at: https://www.institutmontaigne.org/ressources/pdfs/publications/a-french-islam-is-possiblereport.pdf, (Accessed: 9 January 2019). Encyclopaedia Britannica (2018), Declaration of Independence (1776). Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Declaration-of-Independence, (Accessed: 9 January 2019). Mondon, A. and Winter, A. (2017), “Charlie Hebdo, Republican secularism and Islamophobia”, in G. Titley et al. (eds.), (2017), After Charlie Hebdo: Terror, Racism and Free Speech, London: Zed Books, p.41. 44


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Foucault, M. (1980), Power/knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, translated from French by C. Gordon, L. Marshall, J. Mepham and K. Soper, New York: Pantheon Books. Hall, E.B. (1906), The Friends of Voltaire, London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Hollande, F. (2015), Attack against Charlie Hebdo Statement by Mr. François Hollande, President of the Republic. Available at: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/the-ministry-and-itsnetwork/events/article/attack-against-charlie-hebdo, (Accessed: 9 January 2019). Kiwan, N. (2016), “Freedom of thought in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks”, French Cultural Studies, 27(3), pp.233-244. Lucas, S. (1989), “Justifying America: The Declaration of Independence as a Rhetorical Document”, in T. Benson (ed.), (1989), American Rhetoric: Context and Criticism, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, pp.67-130. Mondon, A. and Winter, A. (2017), “Charlie Hebdo, Republican secularism and Islamophobia”, in G. Titley, D. Freedman, G. Khiabany and A. Mondon (eds.), (2017), After Charlie Hebdo: Terror, Racism and Free Speech, London: Zed Books, pp.31-35. New York Times (2015), “The Charlie Hebdo Massacre in Paris”, 7 January. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/opinion/the-charlie-hebdo-massacre-in-paris.html, (Accessed: 9 January 2019). Norton, B. (2000), Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity and educational change, Harlow: Pearson Education. L’Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII) (2011), Immigrer en France [Immigrating to France]. Available at: http://www.ofii.fr/IMG/pdf/Fiche_prA_c_sentation_livre_Couv_du_Cherche_Midi_copy.pdf , (Accessed: 9 January 2019). Saïd, E. (1978), Orientalism, New York: Random House. Todd, E. (2015), Who is Charlie? Xenophobia and the new middle class, translated from French by A. Brown, Cambridge: Polity Press. Triandafyllidou, A. (1998), “National identity and the ‘other’”, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21(4), pp.593612. Whitehead, T. (2015), ‘Paris Charlie Hebdo attack: Je Suis Charlie hashtag one of most popular in Twitter history’, The Telegraph, 9 January. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11336879/Paris-CharlieHebdo-attack-Je-Suis-Charlie-hashtag-one-of-most-popular-in-Twitter-history.html, (Accessed: 9 January 2019). Wibben, A. (2008), “Who do we think we are?”, in J. Edkins and M. Zeyfuss (eds.), (2009), Global Politics: A New Introduction, London: Routledge, pp.70-93.


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What Is the Relationship Between Security and Insecurity?

Benjamin Hart, 2nd Year Essay BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy and Economics

Abstract: This paper offers one possible relationship between security and insecurity. Namely, that it is constructed through discourse. I argue that a poststructural approach to security studies allows us to avoid ‘value-free’ modes of analysis which silence the nuances present in security issues. By operating within Campbell’s logic, I develop a poststructuralist critique of the US ‘War on Terror’ and suggest how the US narrative served to produce and reproduce a particular relationship between the US and the terrorist ‘other’. In this way, I argue that the relationship between security and insecurity has no prediscursive meaning and that one answer to the question ‘what is the relationship between security and insecurity?’ is that it is constructed through discourse. Introduction There is no definitive relationship between security and insecurity. Briefly put, this is because of the politically mobilising and powerful connotations associated with the term ‘security’. 12 Given that the ontological and epistemological commitments of people are often varied, different groups will defend competing definitions of ‘security’, and therefore what its relation to ‘insecurity’ is. Nevertheless, I will offer one possible answer to the question ‘what is the relationship between security and insecurity?’. I argue that the relationship is performatively constituted through the use of language. In other words, the relationship between security and insecurity does not exist outside of discourse. Rather, it is formed in and through it. This understanding of performativity is drawn from David Campbell’s poststructuralist approach to security studies as demonstrated in his book Writing Security, where he argues that states have no “ontological status apart from the various acts which constitute [their] reality”.3 As I will make clear, the same logic can be applied when understanding the relationship between security and insecurity.

Booth, K. (1991), “Security and Emancipation”, Review of International Studies, 17(4), p.138. Buzan, B. (1983), People States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post Cold War Era, London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, p.2. 3 Campbell, D. (1998), Writing Security, Manchester: Manchester University Press, p.10. 1 2


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The reaction of the United States to the events of 11 September 2001 (9/11) is a perfect illustration of the performative process mentioned above. As such, in this paper, the narrative of the United States towards the ‘War on Terror’ will facilitate a discussion on the relationship between security and insecurity. Specifically, I will focus on how it served to establish terrorism as a symbol of insecurity shortly after the events of 9/11, and in so doing demonstrates how the relationship between security and insecurity is constructed through discourse. My argument will proceed in two parts. First, I will outline one conventional approach to security studies, namely securitisation theory. This will allow me to compare securitisation theory with the poststructuralist approach towards security studies that I take. I will do this by reflecting on ideas present in David Campbell’s Writing Security which challenge implications present in securitisation theory.4 My aim is not to reach an ‘answer’ to this debate. Instead, I intend to show what is at stake in adopting these different approaches towards security and communicate why I find a poststructuralist attitude particularly compelling. At the same time, I will use this part of the paper to reinforce my earlier statement that ‘there is no definitive relationship between security and insecurity’. In the second part of this paper, I will assess the way in which the United States’ narrative towards the ‘War on Terror’ produced and reproduced terrorism as a symbol of insecurity and thereby constructed a particular relationship between security and insecurity. In sum, whilst I deny that there is a definitive answer to the question ‘what is the relationship between security and insecurity?’ – because I reject that it has any prediscursive meaning – I will provide one possible answer to the question through analysing the way in which discourse functions to construct security threats, terrorism in particular. I will explore this claim through assessing how the United States’ narrative towards the ‘War on Terror’ produced a certain representation of the relationship between security and insecurity. Securitisation Theory Securitisation theory was first outlined by Wæver in the mid-1990s and put more ‘fully’ in the 1998 book Security: A New Framework for Analysis by Buzan, Wæver, and Wilde.5 ‘Security’ – at least in its initial formulation by Wæver – was defined as a ‘speech act’. On this view, securitisation is the process in which a particular issue becomes understood as an existential threat through the use of language. As Wæver claims, by “uttering ‘security’, a state-representative moves a particular Ibid. Wæver, O. (1995), “Securitisation and Desecuritisation”, in R. Lipschutz (ed.), (1995), On Security, New York: Columbia University Press; Buzan, B. et al. (1998), Security: A New Framework for Analysis, Colorado: Lynne Rienner. 4 5


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development into a specific area, and thereby claims a special right to use whatever means are necessary to block it”.6 In this way, it could be argued that speech acts perform security. Whilst this notion is evident in the 1998 text, Buzan, Wæver and Wilde focus more on the idea that a securitisation is only successful if the audience receiving the securitising message or speech act accepts it as such. Despite these differences, what is consistent across the texts is that securitisation theory is defined in terms of the designation of mostly external threats “from a specific place” – a staterepresentative.7 In this light, Ken Booth points out that securitisation theory is much like an add-on to realism.8 In this picture, like securitisation theory, security is about states. 9 The view is that a state is ‘secure’ once it is free from external threats. Securitisation theory follows this logic. However, it suggests that realism does not acknowledge the importance of ideas in shaping the interests of actors and therefore the way in which they perceive certain issues as threats. For securitisation theory, this ideational element takes the form of ‘speech acts’ which elevate threats up the security agenda. Note, the assertion is that ideas shape actors’ perception of threats, not that they construct them. The implication here is that securitisation theory suggests that threats are ‘real’ – that they objectively exist. However, the extent to which these ‘objective’ threats are regarded as ‘existential’ threats is shaped by, or is a matter of, ideational perception – a successful speech act. A further implication, therefore, is that security can be achieved through the removal of these existential threats. To clarify in an example: securitisation theory posits that the climate is ‘real’ and exists independently of observers. However, it argues that no matter how much ozone is depleted, climate change may never be recognised as an existential threat. This relies on a successful speech act. Nonetheless, if climate change is identified as an existential threat, supposedly, we can achieve ‘security’ by ‘blocking’ it – by ‘removing’ the existential threat. For securitisation theory, therefore, speech acts, or in other words discourse, is something that actors use to describe issues and position them on the security agenda of a state. As such, on this view, discourse is something that describes the relationship between security and insecurity. Poststructuralism and Securitisation Theory

Wæver, O. (1995), “Securitisation and Desecuritisation”, in R. Lipschutz (ed.), (1995), On Security, New York: Columbia University Press, p.35. 7 Ibid., p.57. 8 Booth, K. (2005), Critical Security Studies and World Politics, Colorado: Lynne Rienner, p.207. 9 Wæver, O. (1995), “Securitisation and Desecuritisation”, in R. Lipschutz (ed.), (1995), On Security, New York: Columbia University Press, pp.46-50. 6


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In Writing Security, David Campbell, through a poststructuralist lens, challenges ideas present in securitisation theory.10 Rather than arguing that discourse is a tool to describe objects and move them up and down the security agenda – like a speech act – Campbell’s view is that discourse is something “which constitutes both subjects and objects”.11 More explicitly, Campbell argues that security policy is a “boundary producing political performance” in which the relationship between ‘the self’ and ‘the other’ is constructed through the “writing of threats” as “externalised dangers”.12 In this way, Campbell argues that the ‘self’ is always understood in relation to an ‘other’, and vice versa. The same logic can be applied when thinking about the constitution of the relationship between security and insecurity: ‘the self’ can be thought of as that which a state wants to defend. This is simply a particular perception of ‘security’. Similarly, ‘the other’ is whatever is perceived as posing a threat to that idea of ‘security’ – a symbol of insecurity. Therefore, in the same way that the security policy of a state is a boundary producing political performance in which the relationship between ‘the self’ and ‘the other’ is constructed, I suggest that the security policy of a state is a boundary producing political performance in which the relationship between security and insecurity is constructed. An important implication of this line of thought is not just that ‘security’ does not objectively exist, but also, therefore, that threats or ‘insecurity’ do not objectively exist. Instead, they exist as part of a symbiotic relationship – constituting and stabilising each other through the security policy of a state. In this vein, my argument that the relationship between security and insecurity is constructed through discourse emerges. Importantly, the argument is not that a single security policy of a state constitutes the relationship between security and insecurity. Rather, as Campbell would suggest, the relationship between security and insecurity is performatively produced and reproduced through the “stylized repetition” of a state’s security policy. 13 Accordingly, as I mentioned in the introduction, there is no definitive answer to the question ‘what is the relationship between security and insecurity?’; even in a world where only one state existed, over time, changes in its security policy would affect its perceived relationship between security and insecurity. As such, the relationship is never fixed – it is not definitive. As Campbell’s logic suggests, there are “political consequences [in] adopting one mode

Campbell, D. (1998), Writing Security, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Białasiewicz, L. et al. (2007), “Performing Security: The imaginative geographies of current US strategy”, Political Geography, 24(6), p.407. 12 Campbell, D. (2005), “The Biopolitics of Security: Oil Empire and the Sports Utility Vehicle”, American Quarterly, 57(3), p.947. 13 Campbell, D. (1998), Writing Security, Manchester: Manchester University Press, p.9. 10 11


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of representation over another”.14 Therefore, there is not a fixed understanding of ‘security’ independent of security discourse. Consequently, there is not a fixed understanding of security’s relationship with insecurity outside of discourse. In this light, I think that securitisation theory’s suggestion that threats are ‘real’ is inaccurate because their very existence is dependent on a particular perception of ‘security’. In this vein, the discourse which identifies a ‘threat’ is constitutive of the state of ‘security’ it purports to defend.15 As such, securitisation theory’s suggestion that ‘security’ can be achieved by removing existential threats is also problematic because that perception of ‘security’ depends on the very existence of said threats. To give an example: by implementing a policy which protects its citizens from terrorist attacks, a government simultaneously constitutes terrorism as a threat. By supposedly creating a more secure environment, they concurrently produce a perception of ‘security’, and in turn, ‘insecurity’. In other words, what ‘insecurity’ means is a direct result of a state’s ‘security project’. Considering this, the relationship between security and insecurity is the effect of a particular security discourse. So far I have outlined securitisation theory and contrasted it with my poststructuralist approach towards security. I explained how I have drawn from Campbell’s logic to argue that discourse constitutes the relationship between security and insecurity.16 I tried to highlight what is distinctive about my approach and how it differs from securitisation theory: I showed how poststructuralism interprets security as a discursive concept. Then I suggested how this approach leads to the conclusion that there is no definitive relationship between security and insecurity – given the two concepts’ dependency on each other – and posit instead, that the relationship is performatively created through the security discourse of a state. This poststructuralist approach is the framework in which the next part of this paper explores one security threat in particular: terrorism. I will assess the way in which its identification as a threat has been constructed discursively through the United States’ narrative towards the ‘War on Terror’. As a result, I will highlight how the relationship between security and insecurity is constructed through discourse. The ‘War on Terror’ Jackson argues that the United States’ narrative towards the ‘War on Terror’ “is not simply an objective or neutral reflection of reality”.17 Instead, he argues that “it is a carefully constructed Ibid., p.4. Ibid., p.13. 16 Ibid. 17 Jackson, R. (2005), Writing The War on Terrorism, Manchester: Manchester University Press, p.2. 14 15


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discourse” that serves to reify a narrow conception of national identity. 18 As before, this ‘identity’ is synonymous with a particular perception of ‘security’.19 A ‘New Era’ The language of threat and danger permeates the discourse surrounding the ‘War on Terror’: claims of a “new terrorist threat” resembling unprecedented danger are consistently seen. 20 In labelling the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as ‘new’ threats, government officials fabricated the creation of a ‘different world’ to the one that Americans once knew. 21 This rhetoric articulated a specific meaning for 9/11 going far beyond the immediate cause and context of the material events. The attacks were not just acts of violence or cruelty, they were revolutionary events of metaphysical proportions – a signifier of a new era for mankind.22 This ‘meaning’ ascribed tremendous significance to the events of 9/11. However, crucially, this significance was assigned through the recognition of danger rather than anything positive. The events marked a new beginning not because of something great, but because of ‘new’ threats. This highlighted the potential force of terrorism. Indeed, if a single ‘terrorist’ group can alter the course of human existence, ‘terrorism’ is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Accordingly, terrorism was painted as a colossal threat, and thus, a symbol of insecurity. As such, a specific relationship between security and insecurity was constructed through the discourse of the ‘War on Terror’. Namely, that a life with terrorism is ‘insecure’, and a life without it, is ‘secure’. To break it down: in identifying a ‘new’ type of threat, logically, the United States government ‘added’ something to their security agenda that was not there before. At the same time, by highlighting a ‘new’ threat, they constructed a ‘new’ necessary condition for ‘security’, namely, the absence of this ‘new’ threat. As a result, through the narrative of the United States towards the ‘War on Terror’, a ‘new’ relationship between security and insecurity was constructed. The ‘Evil Ones’

Ibid. Ibid. 20 Ashcroft, J. (2001), Testimony to House Committee on the Judiciary. 21 Bush, G. (2001a), Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People. 22 Jackson, R. (2005), Writing The War on Terrorism, Manchester: Manchester University Press, p.97 18 19


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Another feature of the narrative towards the ‘War on Terror’ is its appeal to identity. For example, in striving to create binary oppositions between the United States and the terrorist ‘other’, Bush appealed to the good/evil dichotomy when he referred to terrorists as the ‘evil ones’ whilst portraying American people as righteous.23 This is significant because the good/evil narrative is embedded in Christian culture through the fundamental teachings of the Bible. Furthermore, the good/evil narrative would also, and still does, resonate with popular culture through seeing ‘evil’ villains in films and video games, for example. In this way, ‘evil’ is a ‘loaded’ term – it carries bad connotations. Consequently, when Bush labelled the terrorists as ‘evil’, he assigned to them a wellknown and predetermined identity that evoked emotions of fear which had before, for many Americans, only been experienced virtually.24 In this way, Bush made the terrorist threat ‘real’. This discursive construction of the ‘evil’ terrorist served to instill fear in the hearts of American people and inflate the magnitude of the danger posed by terrorism. Bush reproduced this understanding of terrorism when he declared that the “evil is real” on 29 January 2002. In effect, Americans inevitably viewed terrorism as a persistent threat, and as a symbol of insecurity. Again, however, this understanding of terrorism was the effect of the United States’ discourse and narrative towards ‘the War on Terror’ – not of the material events of 9/11 or of something ‘more real’, so to speak. Consequently, it can again be argued that the relationship between security and insecurity is performatively constituted through discourse. Importantly, in arguing that the United States’ narrative towards the ‘War on Terror’ constituted terrorism as a symbol of insecurity, I do not mean to suggest that the United States created a threat where there was not one. The attacks that motivated this narrative were ‘real’: members of Al-Qaeda hijacked planes and crashed them into prominent buildings killing thousands of people. I do not deny that these events occurred. Rather, my argument is that they could not have constituted terrorism as a threat from outside of the discourse and narrative of the United States towards the ‘War on Terror’. Accordingly, I argue that terrorism is not an objective threat. Rather, it is understood as one. This is a result of the discourse that represents it as such. The same logic can be applied to all supposed ‘threats’. In this vein, because there are no objective threats, there is no objective state of security –

23 24

Bush, G. (2001b), Presidential Remarks to US Attorneys Conference, Dwight David Eisenhower Office Building. Hariman, R. (2003), “Speaking of evil”, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, 6(3), p.53.


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only that which is constructed through discourse. Thus, the relationship between security and insecurity is also constructed through discourse. Conclusion I have defended the view that the relationship between security and insecurity is performatively constituted through discourse. The first part of this paper outlined securitisation theory and contrasted it with my poststructuralist approach towards security studies. The main difference is poststructuralism’s denial of the view that objects exist independently of people’s ideas about them. Whilst securitisation theory posits that threats objectively exist, and that ideas – through speech acts – shape actors’ perception of ‘threats’, poststructuralism suggests that threats are wholly constructed. Operating in terms of Campbell’s logic, I explained how discourse – through the security policy of a state – constructs issues as threats, and also, therefore, a particular representation of the relationship between security and insecurity.25 Accordingly, given that security policy can be changed, the relationship between security and insecurity is never fixed. On these grounds, I argued that there is no definitive relationship between security and insecurity. In the second part of this paper, I assessed the way in which the United States’ narrative towards the ‘War on Terror’ served to construct terrorism as a threat. I tried to show how the discourse surrounding 9/11 was not a neutral reflection of the events that took place. Rather, it had a clear “political purpose”.26 Namely, to construct a ‘new world’ in which the ‘evil’ terrorist ‘other’ was positioned as a symbol of insecurity. This created a particular representation of the relationship between security and insecurity where a world without terrorism was ‘secure’, and a world with terrorism was ‘insecure’. Accordingly, in analysing the United States’ narrative towards the ‘War on Terror’ through a poststructuralist lens, I showed how discourse serves to construct a particular relationship between security and insecurity. In this light, poststructuralism is truly liberating. By denying the existence of objective realities it disturbs the self-evidences of conventional approaches towards security. The result is a more nuanced approach towards security studies – encouraging critical, rather than descriptive and ‘value-free’ modes of analysis. This reorients security studies away from the study of states and sets a

25 26

Campbell, D. (1998), Writing Security, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Jackson, R. (2005), Writing The War on Terrorism, Manchester: Manchester University Press, p.2.


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new agenda to expose the contingent origins and unsettled semantic structures of political issues. This agenda has both guided and been central to this paper. References Books and Articles Białasiewicz, L., Campbell, D., Elden, S., Graham, S., Jeffrey, A. and Williams, A. (2007), “Performing Security: The imaginative geographies of current US strategy”, Political Geography, 26(4), pp.405-422. Booth, K. (1991), “Security and Emancipation”, Review of International Studies, 17(4), pp.313-326. Booth, K. (2005), Critical Security Studies and World Politics, Colorado: Lynne Rienner. Buzan, B. (1983), People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post Cold War Era, London: Harvester Wheatsheaf. Buzan, B., Wæver, D. and Wilde, J. (1998), Security: A New Framework for Analysis, Colorado: Lynne Rienner. Campbell, D. (1998), Writing Security, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Campbell, D. (2005), “The Biopolitics of Security: Oil Empire and the Sports Utility Vehicle”, American Quarterly, 57(3), pp.943-972. Hariman, R. (2003), “Speaking of evil”, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, 6(3), pp.511-517. Jackson, R. (2005), Writing The War on Terrorism, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Wæver, O. (1995), “Securitisation and Desecuritisation”, in R. Lipschutz (ed.), (1995), On Security, New York: Columbia University Press, pp.46-86. Speeches Ashcroft, J. (2001), Testimony to House Committee on the Judiciary, 24 September. Available at: https://www.justice.gov/archive/ag/testimony/2001/agcrisisremarks9_24.html, (Accessed: 10 May 2018). Bush, G. (2001a), Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, 20 September. Available at: https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html, (Accessed: 20 April 2018). Bush, G. (2001b), Presidential Remarks to US Attorneys Conference, Dwight David Eisenhower Office Building, 29 November. Available at: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=73556, (Accessed: 13 May 2018). Bush, G. (2002), The President’s State of the Union Address, 29 January. Available at: https://georgewbushwhitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html, (Accessed: 13 May 2018). Bush, G. (2003), Remarks to the Employees of United Defense Industries Ground Systems Division, 2 May. Available at: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=63462, (Accessed: 13 May 2018).


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They Shall Not Pass – Anti-fascism in Interwar Britain

John Ayshford, 3rd Year Essay BA (Hons) Politics and Modern History

Abstract: This essay discusses the various forms anti-fascism took in interwar Britain. Like other European nations, Britain had a fascist movement, but unlike elsewhere in Europe, it never became a sizeable force and this was in part due to the strength of anti-fascism in Britain. Examining interwar British anti-fascism provides an excellent case study to understand how fascism can be weakened, an understanding which is particularly pertinent at present given that the far-right is growing in popularity around the world. This essay will discuss the ‘active’ side of anti-fascism, the violent resistance to fascist rallies and marches, as well as the lesser-known, but equally potent ‘passive’, nonviolent forms of anti-fascism.

The far-right is in ascendancy across the world. In several countries the far-right is in power, with Bolsonaro and Orbán governing Brazil and Hungary respectively, for example. 12 It is therefore more apt than ever to look to the past to understand what forms anti-fascism took and how it challenged and defeated fascism. Britain, where fascism never gained any significant momentum during the interwar period, provides an excellent case study. Traditionally, anti-fascism in interwar Britain is often associated with its ‘active’ side, the large-scale counter-protests and defiant combative resistance to fascist marches. Whilst such activities comprise a significant part of the history of interwar anti-fascism, British anti-fascism was more often than not ‘passive’. Whilst peaceful and nonconfrontational, it raised anti-fascist sentiment and weakened the British Union of Fascists (BUF), Britain’s largest interwar fascist party. As such this essay shall also convey passive anti-fascism’s equally pivotal role in weakening fascism. To begin, the essay will provide an overview of the active side of anti-fascism in Britain. It will detail how counter-demonstrations and conflicts with fascists involved many thousands of left-wing working-class anti-fascists despite pleas from the Labour Party not to engage in such action. Moreover, it will highlight how active anti-fascism was not isolated to London 1 2

The Guardian (2018), “Who is Jair Bolsonaro? Brazil's far-right president in his own words”, 29 October. Harris, E. (2017), “Democracy is on the Brink in Hungary, so why is no one talking about it?”, The Independent.


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and how there was a plethora of active anti-fascist activity across the country. The second part of the essay, however, will discuss anti-fascism’s passive side. The paper will first describe how the BUF was also compromised by local and central government, which helped to deny it publicity, and also by the infiltration of MI5 into the organisation. Secondly, the essay will demonstrate that whilst several thousand volunteers went to fight for Republican Spain during the Spanish civil war, most of the support for the Republican war effort was passive consisting of donations and material support. In addition, the paper shall also discuss how anti-fascist sentiment was raised through left-wing art and literature which was consumed by thousands of people. Finally, the essay shall illustrate how the main agents of anti-fascism were the Labour party and the Conservative party. Their passive anti-fascism consisted of using constitutional methods to pass damaging anti-fascist legislation as well as their adherence to a peaceful liberal-democratic consensus which helped to ensure politics remained moderate and non-violent, thus excluding fascism from the mainstream.

The active side of anti-fascism involved thousands of people and was prevalent throughout Britain. Active resistance to fascism began immediately in response to the formation of Britain’s first fascist group, the British Fascisti, with communists breaking up their first meeting in 1923. 3 Active fascism was most prevalent in London. Three notable occasions were at Hyde Park (1934), Cable Street (1936) and Bermondsey (1937). On each occasion, tens of thousands of working-class protesters resisted fascist marches and demonstrations. Such active resistance flew in the face of the Labour Party’s passive policy, as its pleas to its supporters to not participate in militant anti-fascist action led by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) were ignored by many. 4 Active antifascism involving tens of thousands of anti-fascists occurred all across Britain, including in places like Manchester, Cardiff and Gateshead, for example. Active anti-fascist activity involving several thousand people even occurred in towns when there was a minimal fascist presence and when Mosley, the leader of the BUF, was not there. For instance, in Burnley in 1934 and Tonypandy in 1936, fascist meetings were broken up following violent scenes with anti-fascists numbering 2,000 on each occasion. Hodgson claims that such a level of opposition around Britain and the focus on certain events

Copsey, N. (2000), Anti-Fascism in Britain, Basingstoke: Macmillan, p.5. Copsey, N. (2010), “‘Every Time They Made a Communist, They Made a Fascist’: The Labour Party and Popular Antifascism in the 1930s”, in N. Copsey and A. Olechnowicz (eds.), (2010), Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.60-61 and pp.64-66. 3 4


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such as the battle of Cable Street have potentially led “to an underestimation of the scale and intensity of British anti-fascism”.567 Despite the many thousands of people who participated in active anti-fascist activity, effective responses to fascism were often passive. Interwar fascism was rather weakened, for instance, by the passive actions of central and local government, in particular in how they denied the BUF publicity. Favourable publicity was crucial for the BUF in recruiting new members. For instance, the initial support of the press baron Lord Rothermere for the BUF created a surge in membership.8 As a result, the state’s passive action in ‘muting’ the BUF was a significant part of anti-fascism. Many local councils prohibited the BUF from using municipal buildings for meetings. This meant that the BUF had to resort to using open spaces for meetings, which could be interrupted more easily, and even then, some councils banned the BUF from using municipal land such as parks. Lewis estimates that these peaceful anti-fascist actions were “probably more effective than simple physical opposition”.9 Central government pressured newspapers to avoid publicising the BUF, and Mosley was blacklisted by the BBC.10 The actions of local and central government were so effective that the BUF had to resort to private radio and desperate measures such as graffiti in order to maintain publicity. 1112 Central government through MI5 also infiltrated the BUF, and Mosley, aware of this, was deterred from adopting violent measures afraid of the BUF being outlawed as a result. 13 Passive anti-fascism also comprised of relief for Republican Spain and left-wing, anti-fascist art and literature. Whilst there were the 2,500 British International Brigade volunteers along with several thousand other non-combat volunteers, the majority of anti-fascist activity to support Republican Spain during the Spanish civil war was passive.14 There was a vast number of organisations

Hodgson, K. (2010), Fighting Fascism: The British Left and The Rise of Fascism, 1919-1939, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp.136-137. 6 The Lancashire Daily Post (1934), “Fascists in Burnley Uproar”, 30 July, p.6. 7 Burnley Express (1934), “Fascists in Clash”, 1 August, p.8. 8 Dack, J. (2010), “Media Responses to Mosely and the BUF”, in N. Copsey and A. Olechnowicz (eds.), (2010), Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period, London: Palgrave Macmillan, p.145. 9 Lewis, D. (1987), Illusions of Grandeur: Mosely, Fascism and British Society, 1931-1981, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp.135-137 and p.140. 10 Thurlow, R. (1996), “State Management of the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s”, in M. Cronin (ed.), (1996), The Failure of British Fascism, Basingstoke: Macmillan, pp.29-52, pp.33-34. 11 Gottlieb, J. (2006), “The marketing of Megalomania: Celebrity, Consumption and the Development of Political Technology in the British Union of Fascists”, Journal of Contemporary History, 41(1), pp.51-52. 12 The defeat of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy Robinson) in the recent European Elections after he was banned from social media illustrates the effectiveness of blacklisting today; see: Forrest, A. (2019), “Tommy Robinson Blames Social media ‘ban’ for his defeat at European Elections”, The Independent. 13 Eatwell R. (1996), Fascism: A History, London: Vintage, p.187. 14 Hodgson, K. (2010), Fighting Fascism: The British Left and The Rise of Fascism, 1919-1939, Manchester: Manchester University Press, p.199. 5


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which supported refugees and provided material aid to Republican Spain. The Joint Committee for Spanish Relief “had 180 affiliated bodies and links with another 800 organisations” and donations provided by members of the National Council of Labour and the TUC “reached £130,000 and over 1,000 tons of food stuffs”.15 Art provided a medium for left-wing activists to raise anti-fascist sentiment. The main forum for these artists was the Artists International Association, which had over 600 members and held an exhibition in Soho, which attracted over 6,000 people.16 Picasso’s Guernica also toured Britain and was seen by 18,000 visitors, whose admission fee raised money for Republican Spain.17 Anti-fascist literature in the form of the Left Book Club and Penguin Specials was a massive success. The Left Book Club was an organisation which provided subscribers with left-wing publications every month. It grew exponentially and two years after its creation its membership stood at 50,000 with subscribers holding regular meetings. Penguin Specials were written from a progressive standpoint and their low prices made them sell in the hundreds of thousands.18 Notable publications addressed foreign affairs and argued for rearmament, an end to appeasement and antifascist diplomacy.19 Another important part of left-wing literature which raised anti-fascist sentiment was the Webbs’ study of the USSR, ‘Soviet Communism: A New Civilization?’. They praised what they saw as the USSR’s egalitarianism and economic planning which had transcended capitalism. The first edition of what was a very long book sold 30,000 copies and formed an important element of contemporary thought, which increasingly “praised various social and economic measures being implemented by the Soviet regime”; this “progressive” civilisation contrasted with the Nazi regime which was perceived by many as irrational barbarianism which had destroyed the forward-thinking Weimar Republic.2021 The most significant aspect of anti-fascism overall, however, was the passive anti-fascism of the Labour and Conservative parties. Both parties remained attached to the liberal-democratic consensus which strengthened parliamentary government, which itself was used as a means by both parties to pass anti-fascist legislation such as the Public Order Act 1936.22 The act hurt the BUF’s appeal as it banned political uniforms. It also weakened its potential to cause violence and intimidation.

Overy, R. (2010), The Morbid Age: Britain and the Crisis of Civilization, 1919-1939, London: Penguin, p.329, pp.331-333. Lineham, T. (2010), “Communist Culture and Anti-Fascism in Inter-War Britain”, in N. Copsey and A. Olechnowicz (eds.), (2010), Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period, London: Palgrave Macmillan, p.40. 17 Overy, R. (2010), The Morbid Age: Britain and the Crisis of Civilization, 1919-1939, London: Penguin, pp.337-338. 18 Ibid., pp.305-307. 19 Joicey, N. (1993), “A Paperback Guide to Progress: Penguin Books 1935-c.1951”, Twentieth Century British History, 4(1), pp.32-33. 20 Flewers, P. (2008), “The Lure of the Plan: The Impact of the Five-Year Plans in Britain”, Critique, 36(3), p.344. 21 Overy, R. (2010), The Morbid Age: Britain and the Crisis of Civilization, 1919-1939, London: Penguin, pp.283-284, p.295. 22 Copsey, N. (2000), Anti-Fascism in Britain, Basingstoke: Macmillan, p.79. 15 16


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This was the case as it prohibited paramilitaries, gave the police stronger powers to prevent fascist marches through the east end of London with its large Jewish population and the means to arrest fascists who used abusive language and those who carried weapons during meetings. 23 Both the Conservative and Labour parties acted in a constitutional and moderate manner and this helped to prevent any working-class or middle-class alienation from liberal-democratic government which could have led to the success of fascism. Labour rejected any affiliation with the CPGB or cooperation in its militant action, which minimised a potential middle-class fascist reaction in the face of a “red menace” as had happened in Italy.2425 Equally, the hegemony of the Conservatives during the interwar period provided an anti-socialist bulwark and secured favourable economic conditions for the middleclass. Furthermore, it fully accepted the precedent of the liberal welfare reforms and the enlarged electorate, and did not take arbitrary measures to exclude the working-class from it. The Conservatives’ moderation thus prevented working-class militancy which might have threatened a fascist reaction.26 Ultimately, so effective was the behaviour of the two main parties, that it was arguably not active militant anti-fascist action but “working-class and middle-class moderation that sealed the fate of interwar British fascism”.27 Furthermore, central to the moderation of the two parties was their aversion to violence with political leaders anxious to avoid a replication of the violence witnessed earlier in Britain with the Black and Tans and post-war riots. This made violence politically unacceptable in Britain and explains the denunciation in the press and in Parliament of the fascist violence at the Olympia rally, which hurt the credibility of the BUF. Even many on the right of British politics were dismayed at fascism’s “foreign” violence.2829 In conclusion, interwar British anti-fascism provides an illuminating case study to learn from. Anti-fascism involved hundreds of thousands of people, not just in London, but across Britain. Whilst active anti-fascism was a core component of anti-fascism, its passive form often took precedent. The actions of central and local government arrested the growth of the BUF by denying it publicity in the Lewis, D. (1987), Illusions of Grandeur: Mosely, Fascism and British Society, 1931-1981, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp.152-156. 24 Copsey, N. (2000), Anti-Fascism in Britain, Basingstoke: Macmillan, p.17. 25 Corner, P. (2002), “State and Society 1901-1922”, in A. Lyttelton (ed.), (2002), Liberal and Fascist Italy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.37-43. 26 Williamson, P. (2010), “The Conservative Party, Fascism and Anti-Fascism, 1918-1939”, in N. Copsey and A. Olechnowicz (eds.), (2010), Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.81-82. 27 Copsey, N. (2010), “‘Every Time They Made a Communist, They Made a Fascist’: The Labour Party and Popular Antifascism in the 1930s”, in N. Copsey and A. Olechnowicz (eds.), (2010), Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period, London: Palgrave Macmillan, p.67. 28 Lawrence, J. (2003), “Fascist Violence and the politics of Public Order in Inter-War Britain: The Olympia Debate Revisited”, Historical Research, 76(192), pp.244-245. 29 Dietz, B. (2018), Neo-tories: The Revolt of British Conservatives Against Democracy and Political Modernity 1929-1939, London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp.122-126. 23


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press and through blacklisting it from the BBC and municipal property. Moreover, the central state through MI5 compromised the BUF. Furthermore, most of the support for the Spanish Republic was passive, and anti-fascist sentiment was increased through the mass consumption of anti-fascist and leftwing art and literature. Ultimately, the most potent anti-fascism was the passive anti-fascism of the Labour and Conservative parties. Through parliament the parties passed the Public Order Act, which severely weakened the BUF. Moreover, their moderate and constitutional behaviour strengthened the liberal-democratic consensus which ensured the moderation of the working and middle classes and, along with their aversion to violence, ultimately crippled fascism by making it alien to politics. References Burnley Express (1934), “Fascists in Clash”, 1 August, p.8. Copsey, N. (2000), Anti-Fascism in Britain, Basingstoke: Macmillan. Copsey, N. (2010), “‘Every Time They Made a Communist, They Made a Fascist’: The Labour Party and Popular Anti-fascism in the 1930s”, in N. Copsey and A. Olechnowicz (eds.), (2010), Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.52-72. Corner, P. (2002), “State and Society 1901-1922”, in A. Lyttelton (ed.), (2002), Liberal and Fascist Italy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.17-43. Dack, J. (2010), “Media Responses to Mosely and the BUF”, in N. Copsey and A. Olechnowicz (eds.), (2010), Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.140-161. Dietz, B. (2018), Neo-Tories: The Revolt of British Conservatives Against Democracy and Political Modernity (1929-1939), London: Bloomsbury Academic. Eatwell, R. (1996), Fascism: A History, London: Vintage. Flewers, P. (2008), “The Lure of the Plan: The Impact of the Five-Year Plans in Britain”, Critique, 36(3), pp.343-361. Forrest, A. (2019), “Tommy Robinson Blames Social media ‘ban’ for his defeat at European Elections”, The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/europeanelection-results-tommy-robinson-defeated-north-west-latest-a8931426.html, (Accessed: 3 June 2019). Gottlieb, J. (2006), “The marketing of Megalomania: Celebrity, Consumption and the Development of Political Technology in the British Union of Fascists”, Journal of Contemporary History, 41(1), pp.35-55. Harris, E. (2017), “Democracy is on the Brink in Hungary, so why is no one talking about it?”, The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/democracy-is-onthe-brink-in-hungary-so-why-is-no-one-talking-about-it-a7883876.html, (Accessed: 3 June 2019). Hodgson, K. (2010), Fighting Fascism: The British Left and The Rise of Fascism, 1919-1939, Manchester: Manchester University Press.


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Joicey, N. (1993), “A Paperback Guide to Progress: Penguin Books 1935-c.1951”, Twentieth Century British History, 4(1), pp.25-56. Lawrence, J. (2003), “Fascist Violence and the politics of Public Order in Inter-War Britain: The Olympia Debate Revisited”, Historical Research, 76(192), pp.238-267. Lewis, D. (1981), Illusions of Grandeur: Mosely, Fascism and British Society, 1931-1981, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Lineham, T. (2010), “Communist Culture and Anti-Fascism in Inter-War Britain”, in N. Copsey and A. Olechnowicz (eds.), (2010), Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.31-51. Overy, R. (2010), The Morbid Age: Britain and the Crisis of Civilization, 1919-1939, London: Penguin. The Guardian (2018), “Who is Jair Bolsonaro? Brazil’s far-right president in his own words”, 29 October. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/06/jair-bolsonaro-braziltropical-trump-who-hankers-for-days-of-dictatorship, (Accessed: 18 February 2019). The Lancashire Daily Post (1934), “Fascists in Burnley Uproar”, 30 July, p.6. Thurlow, R. (1996), “State Management of the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s”, in M. Cronin (ed.), (1996), The Failure of British Fascism, Basingstoke: Macmillan. Williamson, P. (2010), “The Conservative Party, Fascism and Anti-Fascism, 1918-1939”, in N. Copsey and A. Olechnowicz (eds.), (2010), Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.73-97.


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Fabianism and Social Democracy: Locating Fabian State Collectivism within the Socialist Tradition

Charlie Wilson, 3rd Year Essay BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy and Economics

Abstract: The Fabian Society was an influential force in British politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This essay investigates the ideological relationship between Fabianism and other forms of socialism in British politics in this period. It is demonstrated that Fabianism can be distinguished from other strands of socialist thought by its particular conception of the State as a multifunctional, centralised entity. The obsession with ‘statism’ has resulted in a perception of Fabianism as a technocratic form of collectivism, somewhat detached from the socialist tradition. However, once the multidimensional nature of Fabian state collectivism is appreciated, and certain ethical aspirations inherent in its ideology are acknowledged, it is possible to identify greater overlap between Fabian socialism and the various forms of Social Democracy.

Fabianism has often been portrayed as a “middle-class, quasi-scientific, technocratic or managerial form of collectivism”.1 This account offers one perspective in the debate over how to locate Fabianism within the broader socialist movement, and suggests a significant degree of division between Fabianism and other forms of socialism. My analysis of Fabianism will revolve around the divergence between Fabianism and other forms of ‘social democracy’ concerning the ambiguities around the role of the State in realising socialism. This will enable me to explain how depictions of Fabianism as a ‘technocratic’ or ‘managerial’ form of collectivism only appear to appeal to certain aspects of a multidimensional Fabian theory of the State, where other features determine that greater overlap exists between Fabianism and ‘social democracy’. Therefore, I will argue that such characterisations, although accurate to an extent, are unsatisfactory in conveying all that Fabian State collectivism stood for. I will conclude by attempting to locate the position of Fabianism within the socialist tradition, despite its distinctive aspects.

Mackenzie, N. (1978), Socialism and Society: a New View of the Webb Partnership, London: London School of Economics and Political Science, p.25. 1


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Recognition of the presence of various conceptualisations of the State can be used to distinguish separate strands of socialist thought. From a theoretical Marxist perspective, the State is merely a component of the ideological superstructure of a society. The economic mode of production, or ‘base’, determines the nature of the State which, under capitalism, reflects and reinforces capitalist norms, such as private property. Marx believed that “the different states of the different civilised countries […] all have this in common: that they are based on modern bourgeois society, only one more or less capitalistically developed”.2 This theoretical account of the State appears to give rise to two conceptions of the socialist State. Firstly, following a transition to a post-capitalist society, in which the means of production are collectively owned, the State is anticipated to play an increasingly peripheral role. The coercive powers of the State are deemed unnecessary once societal relations advance towards the communist ideal. This ideological shift means that the State eventually “dies out”, or “withers away”.3 Secondly, a closely related conception of the state is associated with revolutionary MarxistLeninist ideology. Although it shares the belief that the State will eventually become redundant, they subscribe to the view that socialism requires “a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat”.4 Once class struggle stimulates a revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist State, it is replaced by a vanguard organisation which controls the State to engineer a classless society. A third conception is associated with the Independent Labour Party and cooperative trade union movements. This socialist movement is primarily focused on the nationalisation of industry but is also concerned with the introduction of greater democratic reform, accompanied by varying degrees of radicalism. As opposed to becoming obsolete, State power is utilised to implement policy and reform. This is related to the idea, expressed in Manifesto of the Communist Party, that “the proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State”. 5 However, British Labour socialists perceive the role of the State as extending beyond the management of economic production, and towards facilitating the democratisation of social and political institutions. Despite the expansion of the scope of State activity that it entails, this social democratic conception of the State nonetheless contains Marx, K. (1875), Critique of the Gotha Programme, p.19. Engels, F. (1877), Anti-Dühring: Herr Eugen Dühring’s Revolution in Science, p.177. 4 Marx, K. (1875), Critique of the Gotha Programme, p.20. 5 Marx, K. and Engels, F. (1848), Manifesto of the Communist Party, p.26. 2 3


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ambiguity. As Barker states, these social democrats “see democratic control of the effective state as the way ahead. Yet they have seldom enquired what it is and what they seek to control”. 6 Conceptions of the State are evidently inconsistent between these three forms of socialism. Whereas the State can be conceived as a peripheral ideological component, or an unspecified authoritative instrument of governance within social democratic theory, the State is unambiguously fundamental to Fabian philosophy. “The State, with a capital ‘S’, strides through [Fabian Essays] like a romantic hero, regulating and controlling, and replacing the anarchy of individualism with the good sense of collective social responsibility”.7 The first point to make about the Fabian State is that its theoretical basis was neither an idealised construction, nor was it dependent on a utopian society; it was grounded in the notion of expanding the existing British State. For the Fabians, the State “meant simply men in the existing offices” whilst socialist progress merely relied upon the “existing machinery of British Government [...] slightly improved”.8 In contrast to other forms of social democracy, Fabianism can be perceived as ‘State Socialism’, with its transition to socialism explicitly involving the extension and reformation of the British State of the period. Although it is beyond doubt that “the socialism advocated by the Fabian Society is State Socialism exclusively”,9 ideological articulations of the State, provided by various individual Fabian intellectual contributions, contained subtle nuances. Consequently, rather than stipulate a consensus regarding the Fabian State, I will restrict my focus to an account provided by the Webbs, given that they were arguably the most influential Fabians and since “‘Webbism’ has always been identified at least as much by this ‘statist’ philosophy as by gradualism and the cult of the expert”. 10 Barker explains that the Webbs’ discussion of the State distinguished “three general functions of the ‘political institutions’ of society”,11 which I will refer to as the ‘coercive function’, the ‘administrative function’ and the ‘progressive function’. This entails that the State is a multi-functional

Barker, R. (1984), “The Fabian State”, in B. Pimlott (ed.), (1984), Fabian Essays in Socialist Thought, London: Heinemann, p.27. 7 Ibid., p.28. 8 McBriar, A. M. (1966), “Fabian Historical and Political Theory”, in A. M. McBriar (ed.), (1966), Fabian Socialism and English Politics, 1884-1918, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.79. 9 Shaw, G. B. (1896), “Report on Fabian policy and resolutions”, in Fabian Tract No.70. London: Fabian Society, p.5. 10 Morgan, K. (2006), “Science, state and society: the social theory of the Webbs”, in K. Morgan (ed.), (2006), Bolshevism and the British Left: The Webbs and Soviet Communism, London: Lawrence & Wishart, p.63. 11 Barker, R. (1984), “The Fabian State”, in B. Pimlott (ed.), (1984), Fabian Essays in Socialist Thought, London: Heinemann, p.30. 6


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entity, adopting different roles corresponding to distinctive spheres of governance. The coercive sphere involves the State producing and enforcing legislation, and legitimately employing force (in a Weberian sense). In the administrative sphere, the State is responsible for the provision of resources and public services, and the control of nationalised industry. This requires large-scale bureaucratic management. Finally, the progressive sphere is concerned with the “promotion of the civilisation desired by the community”.12 This determines that there was a distinctly ethical aspect of the State, committed to forward-looking research and planning into both advancing society and improving social relations in the community. The Webbs spent their lives arguing that this kind of State transformation would accelerate society’s transition to socialism. Despite scepticism about the development of such an ambitiously technical, allencompassing version of an existing State, the point is that, as Barker states, “the Fabians “did ‘see’ the state, when all their socialist contemporaries looked straight through it to the beneficial consequences which they assumed their unquestioned control of it would achieve”. 13 Unlike the democratic socialist movements outlined above, the Fabians went beyond identifying the method of achieving socialism and attempted to provide a comprehensive account of the structural conditions and social processes necessary to realise and sustain State socialism. Ironically, it seems that this pragmatic formulation of State socialism has caused Fabianism to be perceived as distinct from the socialist tradition. The Fabians believed that the State’s administrative sphere would function most effectively by differentiating functions and embracing expertise. The bureaucratic system would produce optimal outcomes for the collective if it was managed by technocrats. Under the Fabian State, labour organisation would be subject to a centralised authority, likely to be comprised of members of the ‘nouvelle couche sociale’, rather members of the proletarian working class, who would elect themselves into managerial positions within a social democratic trade union system. This appears to epitomise a Fabian preference for elitism in theory and in practice, undermining the claim to value social democracy. Furthermore, the State’s ‘progressive sphere’ suggests that Fabian collectivism was ‘quasiscientific’ and ‘middle-class’. As a result of the Fabian belief in the ‘inevitability of gradualness’ – the notion that the transition to socialism was already underway and that it would eventually and naturally

12 13

Ibid. Ibid., p.35.


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be realised completely – there was a focus on studying and researching the phenomenon of social evolution within the State to manage the impending transition. However, since the Fabians never had control of such a State that they envisaged, they endorsed a strategy of ‘permeation’ to convert powerful individuals and institutions to their gradualist, anti-revolutionary socialist way of thinking, and advocated the use of constitutional methods to reform the State in order to facilitate the ‘inevitable’ forces of change. This detached Fabianism from social democratic movements advocating radical syndicalism or agitation to initiate revolutionary change. Consequently, when Fabianism is considered to be State socialism and the administrative and progressive functions of the State conceived by the Webbs, and the policies and structures that these functions entail are acknowledged, it can reasonably be understood why Fabianism might be condemned as a form of bureaucratic tyranny, apathetic to the working-class struggle. The Fabian attraction to Stalin’s Soviet regime in the 1930s supposedly confirms that Fabian collectivism embodied elitist technocracy and that it ought to be perceived separately from other British social democratic movements. The Fabians, particularly the Webbs, heavily praised the accomplishments of the USSR to the extent that it seemed “the USSR was in all essentials the new civilisation of which they had so long dreamed”.14 The apparent reason for this admiration has been interpreted as relating directly to the USSR’s ability to establish a bureaucratic planned economy on an unprecedented scale, which embraced oligarchical political and economic managerial structures. However, the following passage from the Webbs’ Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation? describes the USSR as a: “highly integrated social organisation in which, over a vast area, each individual man, woman or youth is expected to participate in three separate capacities: as a citizen, as a producer, and as a consumer; to which should be added membership of one or more voluntary organisations intent on bettering the life of the community”.15

This demonstrates that Fabian admiration for the Soviet regime went beyond their fixation with managerial bureaucracy. The leading Fabians identified the relations between the State, society and individuals that had developed in the USSR as illustrative of a ‘multiform democracy’. A society can be taken to function as a ‘multiform democracy’ if it is characterised by a system of interconnected individuals who actively, and simultaneously, take on the roles of citizen, producer, consumer and member of the community. The fact that a society consists of individuals accepting these inextricably Mackenzie, N. (1978), Socialism and Society: a New View of the Webb Partnership, London: London School of Economics and Political Science, p.25. 15 Webb, S. and Webb, B. (1935), Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation?, London: Longmans, Green and Company, p.450. 14


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linked responsibilities allows the State to derive the common good from the aggregation of individuals’ interests in each of these spheres. This concept of a ‘multiform democracy’ directly relates to the multi-functional State asserted by the Webbs, and also Shaw’s related notion of “The State as the representative and trustee of the people”.16 The State must serve ‘the people’ collectively, as opposed to representing the interests of producers or consumers exclusively, or adhering to the demands of any form of social group or class disproportionately. Furthermore, the passage above suggests that the reason for the Webbs’ attraction to Soviet Communism was at least partially, if not entirely, that they perceived that the USSR had successfully constructed ‘the State’ that the Webbs had envisaged for Britain. In addition to the State’s ‘coercive function’, which enables individuals to participate as citizens in a democratic system of governance, and the ‘administrative function’, where bureaucratic political and planned economic structures led by technical experts strive to align producer and consumer interests and ensure the provision of welfare, Fabian State collectivism also involves the ‘progressive function’. The State is also responsible for cultivating ‘community’ amongst its citizens, producers and consumers. It becomes the objective of the State to improve the moral and ethical nature of the cooperative relations that define society. Therefore, as well as the development of an efficient planned economy, the Webbs were impressed by the ability of the USSR to produce a community of collectively conscious individuals engaged in cooperative social relations, indicative of a State effectively reconciling individuals’ interests with the ‘common good’. A comparison with Britain renders this point particularly pertinent. Despite the programmatic reform associated with New Liberalism at the beginning of the 20th century, and the ‘gradualist’ rhetoric of inevitable progress towards socialism, not even the Fabians would have imagined that the subordination of individualism to collectivism was attainable on the scale that it had been observed in the USSR. Baldwin’s Conservative party predominantly held government office in the inter-war period, reinforcing the prevailing doctrine of Liberalism and ‘laissez-faire’ capitalism in Britain, dating back to the mid-19th century. This notion of the triumph of collectivism over individualism, enabling the socialist value of community to be realised, was not a feature of Fabianism that emerged in response to Soviet society

Shaw, G. B. (1889), “Transition”, in G. B. Shaw (ed.), (1889), Fabian Essays in Socialism, New York: The Humboldt Publishing Company, pp.222-223. 16


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– it was present from the beginning. In Sidney Webb’s contribution to Fabian Essays in Socialism, he claims that the life of the community “transcends that of any of its members” and that “the social organism has itself evolved from the union of individual men, the individual is now created by the social organism of which he forms a part […], his attributes are moulded by the social pressure; his activities, inextricably interwoven with others, belong to the activity of the whole”. 17 Once the collectivism inherent in Fabian socialism is interpreted as an ethical concept (as well as a structural feature) corresponding to community, it is evident that greater overlap exists between Fabianism and other strands of socialism associated with social democracy. The ‘administrative function’ of the Fabian State entails a bureaucratic system responsible for distributing resources and welfare in a way that harmonises producer and consumer interests. Whilst this function has technocratic and managerial tendencies, it is not equivalent to an elitist class arbitrarily pursuing its own interests. Fabian executives would be motivated to design an economic system that reflects their belief in collective responsibility for the social welfare of all as citizens, producers and consumers. The Webbs praised the ‘dictatorship of proletariat’ in the USSR for its capacity to provide “a strong and resolute executive, acting unhesitatingly in the interests of the manual-working wage-earning class”.18 This captures the sense in which the Fabians envisaged State socialism, despite its oligarchical elements, as a collective enterprise. Furthermore, the ‘progressive function’ of the State is fundamental to the communitarian aspect of Fabian collectivism. Although the progressive sphere of the State adopts a quasi-scientific approach which is carried out by members of the ‘intellectual proletariat’, it is not an entirely elitist, middle-class project. Its purpose is pragmatic and motivated by the common good. The Fabian State uses social scientific research as a means of improving civilisation and community life, attempting to determine what kind of society is ethically desirable and, subsequently, to decipher what kind of principles and processes are required to bring it about. The provision of social welfare and the realisation of ‘community’ are central to socialism. Whether social democrats appeal to Marxism, revolutionary Leninism, or the cooperative labour movement, in seeking to achieve either (or all of) a classless society, the abolition of private property, the nationalisation of industry, and democratic management of the economy, the underlying

Webb, S. (1889), “Historic”, in G. B. Shaw (ed.), (1889), Fabian Essays in Socialism, New York: The Humboldt Publishing Company, p.37. 18 Webb, S. and Webb, B. (1935), Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation?, London: Longmans, Green and Company, p.449. 17


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motivations revolve around the idea of a just and equitable distribution of resources and welfare and a flourishing community. Interpreting the rationale of the multifunctional Fabian State, as I have done, suggests that Fabians shared these core commitments with social democracy and its various ambiguities. This supports the view that although socialism has “differed profoundly over the right means [...], the single element common to all the schools of thought has been the basic aspirations, the underlying moral values”.19 Draper argues that two distinct traditions occupy socialist thought, known as “Socialismfrom-Above” and “Socialism-from-Below”.20 This distinction gives an insight into how the Fabians and social democrats can diverge considerably, whilst ultimately remaining theories of socialism. Socialism-from-Below involves a class struggle for emancipation and a mobilisation of the masses, whilst Socialism-from-Above “concentrates social-democratic attention on the parliamentary superstructure of society and on the manipulation of the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy […] which makes them hostile to mass action from below”.21 Webbian State collectivism encapsulates this ‘top-down’ form of socialism and is strictly opposed to ‘bottom-up’ conceptions of revolutionary social democracy. Fabianism intends to achieve socialism by reforming and extending the State and constructing a large-scale bureaucracy directed by technocratic elites, rather than the workers themselves. The inherent preference for authoritative, constitutional methods by no means excludes Fabianism from the broader socialist school of thought, yet it does locate Fabianism in opposition to the Socialism-from-Below tradition that emphasises a revolutionary proletariat revolting against ruling classes. The socialist end that appears to unite Fabians and social democrats is the realisation of the ideal of collectivism over individualism in social, economic and political life. The Webbs designed a State and society in which individuals would interact in a multiform democratic community that fosters a collective responsibility for the welfare of others. As a result, there is a sense in which Fabianism is certainly compatible with social democracy. Crosland argues that a “source of confusion is the tendency to use the word [socialism] to describe, not a certain kind of society […] but particular policies which are […] means to attaining this kind of society”.22 This distinction between the ends and means of socialism can explain the Crosland, C. A. R. (1956), The Future of Socialism, Norwich: Fletcher & Son Limited, p.67. Draper, H. (1966), The Two Souls of Socialism, California: Independent Socialist Committee, p.4. 21 Ibid., pp.4-5. 22 Crosland, C. A. R. (1956), The Future of Socialism, Norwich: Fletcher & Son Limited, p.65. 19 20


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apparent distinctiveness of Fabianism. The main departure of Fabianism from social democracy concerns the use of ‘top-down’ statism to achieve socialism. Rather than advocating an overthrow of the State regime, the Fabians sought to expand the scope of the State and harness its power to deliver a socialist society. Crucially, the Fabians opted for reform and social evolution over revolution as a means of realising socialism. Any portrayal of Fabian collectivism as separate from social democracy on these grounds is referring to particular attributes of the means proposed by Fabians to manage the transition to socialism. Therefore, even if the means of achieving socialist ends differ significantly, these socialist ends, in terms of community and social welfare provision, are common to both the Fabians and social democrats. As a result, Fabian State collectivism is best understood as uniting a pair of interrelated concepts. Firstly, ‘bureaucratic collectivism’ describes the administrative structure of the Fabian State which is the ‘means’ of achieving socialism. Under a Fabian influence, the State can ascertain and strive to achieve the common good, facilitating the operation of a multiform democracy, providing for citizens, producers and consumers. Secondly, ‘communitarian collectivism’ describes the objective of the progressive sphere of the Fabian State. It is an ‘end’ of socialism in itself, characterised by the reconciliation of individual interests with the interests of the community and the development of morally desirable social relations. In summary, the State envisaged by Fabians consists of a ‘coercive function’, an ‘administrative function’ and a ‘progressive function’. The scale, scope and dynamic role of this State is the distinguishing feature of Fabianism, in comparison to alternative strands of socialist thought. There are undoubtedly features of Fabianism which justify its description as ‘quasi-scientific’ and ‘technocratic’ since the belief in the ‘gradualist’ evolution towards socialism caused the Fabians to favour a reformist, rather than revolutionary, approach. This generated an apathetic attitude towards independent labour movements and placed managerial power of political and economic structures in the hands of those with expertise. However, I have argued that this does not warrant the marginalisation of Fabianism within socialist thought. Fabianism differs in terms of its endorsement of ‘top-down’ means, yet it is united with social democracy by the moral values it associates with the ends of socialism. The core socialist aspirations of the provision of social welfare to all and the realisation of community can be identified as intrinsic to the ideology of Fabian State collectivism; there is only divergence on the subject of how these aspirations are most effectively accomplished. References


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Barker, R. (1984), “The Fabian State”, in B. Pimlott (ed.), (1984), Fabian Essays in Socialist Thought, London: Heinemann. Crosland, C. A. R. (1956), The Future of Socialism, Norwich: Fletcher & Son Limited. Draper, H. (1966), The Two Souls of Socialism, California: Independent Socialist Committee. Engels, F. (1877), Anti-Dühring: Herr Eugen Dühring’s Revolution in Science. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/anti_duhring.pdf, (Accessed: 17 June 2019). Mackenzie, N. (1978), Socialism and Society: a New View of the Webb Partnership, London: London School of Economics and Political Science. Marx, K. and Engels, F. (1848), Manifesto of the Communist Party. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Manifesto.pdf, (Accessed: 17 June 2019). Marx, K. (1875), Critique of the Gotha Programme. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/Marx_Critque_of_the_Gotha_Pro gramme.pdf, (Accessed: 17 June 2019). McBriar, A. M. (1966), “Fabian Historical and Political Theory”, in A. M. McBriar (ed.), (1966), Fabian Socialism and English Politics, 1884-1918, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Morgan, K. (2006), Bolshevism and the British Left: The Webbs and Soviet Communism, London: Lawrence & Wishart. Shaw, G. B. (1889), “Transition”, in G. B. Shaw (ed.), (1889), Fabian Essays in Socialism, New York: The Humboldt Publishing Company. Shaw, G. B. (1896), “Report on Fabian policy and resolutions”, in Fabian Tract No.70, London: Fabian Society. Webb, S. (1889), “Historic”, in G. B. Shaw (ed.), (1889), Fabian Essays in Socialism, New York: The Humboldt Publishing Company. Webb, S. and Webb, B. (1935) Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation?, London: Longmans, Green and Company.


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Is there a cogent solution to the problem of inconsequentialism?

James Rogers, 2nd Year Essay BA (Hons) Politics and Modern History

Abstract: Environmentalists have been surprisingly quick to reject the notion of a unilaterally incurred obligation to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. They often highlight the infallibility of the Tragedy of the Commons thought experiment, arguing that it demonstrates that our unilateral reductions would be inconsequential to the destiny of the shared Commons. It is argued that this reality should encourage us to form collective, multi-lateral agreements. In this piece, I challenge the notion that we cannot identify a unilateral component to environmental obligations. By highlighting Darwall’s notion of respect, I aim to encourage theorists to re-evaluate whether we can say that we have satisfied our obligations to the environment only via the pursuit of collective goals.

In this essay, I will argue that the premises on which the problem of inconsequentialism is founded can be challenged to incorporate an account of individual responsibility to unilaterally reduce emissions. More specifically, I will suggest that the Tragedy of the Commons thought experiment can provide a conclusion that supports individuals’ unilateral obligations to the environment, thus presenting a cogent solution to the problem. In order to develop this conclusion, this essay will be split into two parts. The first will look at this issue and the conclusions of theorists utilising the Tragedy of the Commons. The second will challenge the notion of ‘success’ as the metric to be considered in the Tragedy of the Commons, showing how the virtue of ‘respectfulness’ can adequately ground obligations to reduce emissions both collectively and unilaterally. It is important to note in this discussion that I am taking as my premise one that is broadly accepted and intentionally vague – the notion that we have some level of obligation to the environment. Whilst it would be invigorating to analyse this question more thoroughly, it seems reasonable to assume that within debates surrounding the nature of this question, both sides acknowledge a level of obligation to the environment. The central issue I will be analysing refers to how this obligation manifests itself, and whether we are able to identify an individual, unilateral component within it.


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The problem of inconsequentialism seems like an almost unavoidable conclusion to almost any rudimentary evaluation of environmentalism, thus it is somewhat intuitively convincing. Originally posited by Baylor Johnson,1 and expanded upon by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong,2 the principle is carried by reference to a powerful thought experiment: the Tragedy of the Commons. The argument suggests that, as a rational economic actor, my conservation attempts towards the commons can be successful only if they are agreed collectively and imposed on all parties. Reducing my consumption unilaterally to such a level that if everyone else did the same a sustainable system is maintained, it argues, would not be a successful practice. This is because it assumes that the other actors would view my behaviour not through the Kantian lens via which it was intended, but rather as an opportunity for their own expansion. This would then result in them claiming my now unclaimed resources for their own and leaving the net degradation of the commons unchanged. Therefore, successful avoidance of catastrophe in the Commons is attainable only through collective agreements which stipulate how reduction is applied. This means that our only duty towards the environment would be to support the creation of just institutions that would precipitate collective agreement and provide the parameters through which we could act towards environmental goals. Resultantly, there would be no obligation for the individual to personally reduce their own levels of emissions beyond what any collective agreement enforced upon them requires them to do. However, many environmentalists take issue with this notion. The idea that we have no obligations to do ‘our bit’ individually has been opposed along grounds of moral integrity, 3 or by challenging the notion of private actions and duties.4 My own objection is that this account fails to consider the importance of respecting one’s environment. Moreover, its lack of focus on unilateral reduction (which is so intuitively appealing) makes it wholly unsatisfactory. Thus, I will attempt to alter this account such that this obligation for individual restraint and respect can be generated. In order to achieve this, it is worth considering how Johnson and Sinnott-Armstrong construct their argument. By suggesting that our obligations to the environment are tied to the prevention of tragedy, Johnson and Sinnott-Armstrong are implicitly arguing that we have obligations to the environment only to the extent that these duties provide successful outcomes. We are obligated to Johnson, B. (2003), “Ethical Obligations in a Tragedy of the Commons”, Environmental Values, 12(3), pp.271-287. Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2005), “It's Not My Fault: Global Warming and Individual Moral Obligations”, in W. SinnottArmstrong and R. Howarth (eds.), (2005), Perspectives on Climate Change, London: Elsevier, pp.221-253. 3 Hourdequin, M. (2010), “Climate, Collective Action and Individual Ethical Obligations”, Environmental Values, 19(4), pp.443-464. 4 Neuteleers, S. (2010), “Institutions Versus Lifestyle: Do Citizens Have Environmental Duties in Their Private Sphere?”, Environmental Politics, 19(4), pp.501-517. 1 2


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create collective agreements because these are most likely to bring about the successful result of a sustainable commons. Focusing on a successful consequence seems intuitively attractive for two reasons. Firstly, it is a (somewhat) measurable barometer. If we are asked to demonstrate whether an action or behaviour has had an effect, and whether that is positive or negative, this can be attained empirically. Even with something as large and complex as the environment, human behaviour can be shown to have a measurable impact. Additionally, it holds initial appeal because of its simplicity compared to the complexity of its alternatives. My proposition of respect serves as an example of where these straightforward empirical questions are replaced by more nuanced normative ones. However, unravelling these complex questions is not in vain. By suggesting that our conception of an efficacious policy should be tied not merely to its successful consequences, but rather to the respectful intent of the individual enacting it, we can argue that our obligation to the environment encompasses a unilateral obligation whilst simultaneously maintaining our commitments to fruitful action. Thus far, I have contended that Johnson and Sinnott-Armstrong conceive of obligations to the environment as being tied to the successful consequence of the actions which affect it. I have also highlighted my challenge that whilst being intuitively appealing, their discussion gives adequate ground for the exclusion of unilateral obligations to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, we should conceive of our obligations as being ones which prioritise a respectful intention towards the environment as this will allow us to better align our intuitions and obligations. In this second part of my essay, I will elucidate this position and show how the notion of respectfulness in the Tragedy of the Commons serves as a better, more malleable metric for defining our obligation to the environment. When referring to the notion of respect, I am suggesting we consider our duty to the environment as a duty to respect nature with positive intentions, with an expectation of successful results. This broad definition is the basis for my analysis, it presupposes no preference for individual or collective action, but merely posits that each individual should respect the environment in the same way they might respect a friend, a family member or a teacher. To give this notion more rigour, it is worthwhile considering the definition that Darwall highlights in his discussion on respect. He supposes two different conceptions of respect: recognition and appraisal. Broadly, ‘appraisal respect’ is the respect that we have for someone by virtue of the work that they have done to attain something. Conversely, ‘recognition respect’ is the respect we have for someone or something by virtue of the


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fact that they are that thing.5 The latter intrinsic view is widely held by environmentalists,6 but is seemingly underdeveloped in the literature on the discussion of inconsequentialism. For the purposes of this essay, Darwall’s ‘recognition respect’ is the appropriate vehicle for explaining our obligations. With this in mind, we will reconsider the example of the Tragedy of the Commons. Obligation, in this example, derives from the desire of one or more of the participants to preserve the Commons. This encourages the formation of obligations that bind the other beneficiaries of the Commons to reduce their resource usage to a sustainable level. However, if we presuppose that this obligation comes from a different, but related concern, such as respect, then the same consequence emerges: individuals recognise that the disrespect of the Commons is leading to its denigration, and that thus there should be a multilaterally agreed arrangement to encourage respect for and preservation of the Commons. In other words, if all other things are the same, and there is an obligation to protect the environment, as Johnson would agree, we can read this as simply a narrower form of respect for the environment. Where this position gains more significant value, however, is not merely in its ability to ground the same obligations as the notion of success, but rather in its ability to ground duties of unilateral reduction. This argument is relatively clear: if I am to embrace the notion that I have an obligation to respect the environment, then I am under that obligation independently. This notion might extend to me forming collective agreements. Indeed, it almost certainly will; as we have seen, there is good reason to accept that collective endeavours are more likely than unilateral reduction to precipitate successful results. However, my obligations do not end there. My respect for the environment obligates me to behave in ways that extend beyond the regulations imposed upon me from institutions and collective organisations. This is the significant difference that arises from reading this obligation in this manner. Whereas before it could be argued that the inconsequential nature of individual action could preclude obligation to unilaterally reduce, our obligations now become tied to behaving respectfully, irrespective of how that will manifest itself; successful results are thus a logical conclusion of that commitment. To visualise the implications of such a principle, consider the case of a child and their education. If we were to embrace the notion of success, we would be obligated to ensure that our children were educated in the most effective and efficient way possible. This would likely be in the

5 6

Darwall, S. (1977), “Two Kinds of Respect”, Ethics 88(1), pp.36-49. Taylor, P. (2011), Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics, Princeton: Princeton University Press, p.60.


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form of institutional education systems which are widely enacted and agreed upon. Such systems would reflect a society whereby individuals are not responsible for the education of their children, but rather the state is. As such, we might support a system, given success as our only goal, whereby children are rounded up and removed from their parents to be educated in specific facilities until they are returned many years later. This would be so egregious and unacceptable that it would necessarily be qualified significantly to the lowest common denominator, that is, that point at which all parents agree that the educational needs of the child could be best served successfully. Success is too narrow and limited an interpretation for the holistic goals of children’s education. Conversely, the notion of respecting the necessity of education, valuing its intrinsic and instrumental benefits for children, allows us to suppose that we ought to supplement the multilaterally-derived agreement with our own endeavours. We unilaterally support a child’s education – even children to whom we have no immediate relationship – because of the respect we have for the value itself. In this way, we might suggest that respect, not success, is the metric we consider for our own morality on significant issues. This case draws significant parallels with the conception I am attempting to portray. Our duty is to respect nature. This respect will allow us to form binding agreements that ensure a minimum level of recognition and positive action. Beyond that, conceiving our obligation as one of respect encourages unilateral reduction wherever the individual sees fit. This may seem like an irrelevant technicality, as we are still ‘saving the environment, but for different reasons’, yet I think this is a mistake. Virtue ethicists have argued for the respect of the environment in a number of works, 7 principally, I believe, because of the fact that it bases our environmental goals in an intrinsic value that is self-replicating. Additionally, studies have shown that individuals do not wish to appear to be doing things for the wrong reasons or doing that minimum required of them, especially when in regard to social goods. This is demonstrated in blood donation surveys,8 where adding a payment as an incentive actually reduced the number of people who donate. This suggests that grounding our obligations ethically holds further benefits than those highlighted in this essay, therefore refuting the claim that this alteration is not worthwhile. An important critique to mention states that by basing something off our own intention, as we might with respect, we have no way of measuring whether the outcome is positive. One may believe that they are respecting the environment, whilst in actual fact they are encouraging its Leopold, A. (1968), A Sand Country Almanac, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.7-9. Goette, L. et al. (2010), “Prosocial Motivation and Blood Donations: A Survey of the Empirical Literature”, Transfusion medicine and hemotherapy: offizielles Organ der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Transfusionsmedizin und Immunhämatologie, 37(3), pp.149154. 7 8


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degradation. Yet, this argumentation is flawed because it does not adopt the reading of respect I am pursuing, which is one that embraces barometers capable of determining the impact of one’s actions. By incorporating a measurable act and merely encouraging respect for the environment, I am positing that we retain demonstrably effective solutions whilst embracing individual’s responsible unilateral reductions beyond those prescribed by institutions. Indeed, because institutions could not reasonably impose maximum reductions upon citizens and could only produce policies that had reasonable reduction obligations, this effectively caters for the lowest common denominator. Considering the consequences of this approach, the principle of respect would be a powerful way to ensure that individuals who could reduce more commit to doing so. A further critique that is worth considering is the claim that I have not necessarily fully unravelled the meanings of ‘respect’ and ‘success’, thus making my conclusions pre-emptive. This much I might concede, but the aim of my essay has been to show that we can regard success as a part of respect, and thus if we broaden our understanding as such, the Tragedy of the Commons can be shown to incorporate individual responsibilities for unilateral reduction. Furthermore, I only aim to encourage a recognition that the Tragedy of the Commons thought experiment can be challenged and does not necessarily make unilateral obligation untenable. From this, further work can develop to suggest how we could understand respect and how this alters our conception of individual environmental obligations. In conclusion, I have argued that there is a cogent solution to the problem of inconsequentialism, which is to ground our obligations in respect, rather than narrowly in the principle of success as the Tragedy of the Commons initially might encourage us to do. By taking this approach, we can ensure that there is sufficient impetus to create collective agreement and to make decisions that will be effective in ensuring a healthy environment and creating reasoned, unilateral reductions. Furthermore, the intrinsic nature of respect may encourage those deterred by the extrinsic principles underpinning success to extend their own commitment further, which may actually strengthen the principle. References Darwall, S. (1977), “Two Kinds of Respect”, Ethics, 88(1), pp.36-49. Goette, L., Stutzer, A. and Frey, B. M. (2010), “Prosocial Motivation and Blood Donations: A Survey of the Empirical Literature”, Transfusion medicine and hemotherapy: offizielles Organ der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Transfusionsmedizin und Immunhämatologie, 37(3), pp.149-154.


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Hourdequin, M. (2010), “Climate, Collective Action and Individual Ethical Obligations”, Environmental Values, 19(4), pp.443-464. Johnson, B. (2003), “Ethical Obligations in a Tragedy of the Commons”, Environmental Values, 12(3), pp.271-287. Leopold, A. (1968), A Sand Country Almanac, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Neuteleers, S. (2010), “Institutions Versus Lifestyle: Do Citizens Have Environmental Duties in Their Private Sphere?”, Environmental Politics, 19(4), pp.501-517. Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (2005), “It’s Not My Fault: Global Warming and Individual Moral Obligations”, in W. Sinnott-Armstrong and R. Howarth (eds.), (2005), Perspectives on Climate Change, London: Elsevier, pp.221-253. Taylor, P. (2011), Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics, Princeton: Princeton University Press.


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Children’s Rights – an Exploration of How Children Possess Rights Under the Interest Theory

Nat Hoskyns, 3rd Year Essay BA Politics and Philosophy

Abstract: This essay concerns the nature of rights, and whether we should be convinced that children are the kinds of beings who can hold them. This essay argues that children can hold rights, because rights are grounded in interests. Children have interests that must be accounted for in a theory of rights because they are sentient, conscious beings. First, two competing theories of rights will be briefly outlined, and the moral position I take regarding sentience explained. Next, the intuitive appeal that children have core rights to security and education, accounted for in the Interest Theory but not the Will Theory, shall be explored. It will be revealed how just the fact that someone might be better equipped epistemically to claim a right does not give good reason to deny rights to those who are less or even not equipped. Finally, an attempt to reconcile the Will Theory of rights will prove unsatisfactory because some rights are unwaivable.

This essay concerns the nature of rights, and whether we should be convinced that children are the kinds of beings who can hold them. This essay argues that children can hold rights, because rights are grounded in interests. Children have interests that must be accounted for in a theory of rights because they are sentient, conscious beings. First, two competing theories of rights will be briefly outlined, and the moral position I take regarding sentience explained. Next, the intuitive appeal that children have core rights to security and education, accounted for in the Interest Theory but not the Will Theory, shall be explored. It will be revealed how just the fact that someone might be better equipped epistemically to claim a right does not give good reason to deny rights to those who are less or even not equipped. Finally, an attempt to reconcile the Will Theory of rights will prove unsatisfactory because some rights are unwaivable.


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Rights in this essay are understood broadly in the Hohfeldian sense: as valid claims people can make over one another.1 Two competing and widely cited theories of rights are the Will Theory and the Interest Theory. The Will Theory argues that a right is to be understood as the control a rightholder has over a particular claim; that they are in a position to waive or enforce the claim. The Will Theory is therefore a doctrine concerning abilities - specifically the ability to actively make the claim on another entity's duty that they have as a matter of right to provide someone. It is concerned with the practical and actual use of rights, in that any deficiency in control over a right should be considered as a deficiency in actually possessing the right. Possession of the right amounts to the control in using and exercising it, and as such the rightholder is considered a ‘small-scale sovereign’.2 This position of having the ability to waive or enforce a right is what I mean when I make any reference to the ‘Will Theorist’s position’. The Interest Theory instead sees rights as protecting and furthering the rightholder’s interests, so having rights makes the right owner better off. What these interests actually are is an open and much discussed question, but they are generally understood to mean those characteristics that give some being (or thing) value. It is promoting or protecting this aspect of value that determines the right one is in possession of. Whether you have a valid claim over some other entity to fulfil their duty will depend on whether doing so can be considered as furthering your interests. One manifest example is that of freedom from torture. So strong an interest do humans have in the avoidance of pain that beings of any given ability or age will possess this right. There are no considerations of whether or not the entity has requisite control as a waiver or enforcer; the right permeates this and exists regardless of control in exercisability. One consequence of this is that the interest theory makes rights more generous and extensive than the Will Theory, but it also recognises the deep connection between having rights and being better off. Any credible theory of rights will have to grant rights to the uncontested case: a fully competent adult human.3 A theory which fails to grant these beings rights has gone wrong somewhere in its reasoning. For one, it is a natural and intuitive supposition that they possess them. Crucially, however, when we consider rights we must consider how they apply to human interactions. A failure to do this detracts from the purpose of the exploration of children’s rights.

Feinberg, J. (1970), “The nature and value of rights”, The Journal of Value Inquiry, 4(4), p.257. Hart, H. L. A. (1982), Essays on Bentham: Jurisprudence and Political Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.84. 3 Feinberg, J. (1974), “The Rights of Animals and Future Generations”, in W. Blackstone (ed.), (1974), Philosophy and Environmental Crisis, Athens: University of Georgia Press, p.44. 1 2


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My position is that we can ground children’s rights in their interests. The reason children have interests is that they share a substantive feature of what is common to the fully competent adult human. It is not that they merely belong to the same species ‘homo sapiens’, for this begs the question. Instead it is the substantive, morally relevant features of sentience and consciousness that are shared by the uncontested case. Autonomy is another frequently cited feature, but my reason for denying it is that it stems from a particular notion of ‘competence’, in which mobile competence is included. I contend that a fully competent adult need only be competent in the mental sense, thus someone paralysed from the waist down is competent in all the necessary mental respects. Likewise, a child who may lack autonomy is still to be granted rights on the grounds of their sentience and consciousness. Harm One intuitively plausible candidate for a core right that children hold is freedom from harm, or more specifically freedom from intense harms like torture or rape. The Interest Theory position put forward here can account for this intuitive candidate. What it means to be sentient is to be able to feel pain and pleasure in the phenomenological sense, and as such, avoidance of intense pains is an interest we want protected. The Will Theory, meanwhile, will be unable to offer rights such as these to children. Under most Will Theory accounts, children do not hold rights as they lack a linguistic, epistemic or physical ability to hold them. A 3-year-old cannot comprehend their right to fair exchange over a defective action figure. They also lack the means to enforce this right. Yet a Will Theorist might respond by saying that, in cases of intense harm, duties are the appropriate grounding of children’s protection from harm. Steiner makes it clear that the demands of rights do not encompass all of our duties,4 and as such we can certainly have duties not to harm children. These moral ‘oughts’ can then be established within a society's legal system, thus adequately protecting children. Statutory rape, for example, is a defined law with a specific punishment. In this way, children are still valuable beings under a Will Theory account, but their value does not give rise to a right as such that they hold. The problem with the legal defence, however, is that it does not explain why we think it is fundamentally important to protect children from harm. It is not simply that we ought not to harm children, but it is that we ought not to allow harm to come to them all-things-considered. Rights are 4

Steiner, H. (1994), An Essay on Rights, Oxford: Blackwell, p.62.


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commonly understood as trumps in cases of moral deliberation. Thus, moral arguments against the protection of children’s rights to security, such as consequentialist conceptions of some overall good, cannot be nipped in the bud by reference to rights, at least under the Will Theory. We want children’s security from intense harms to be a right which trumps conflicting moral considerations. Will Theorists would be in the undesirable position of having to point to other, perhaps more nuanced, moral defences in such deliberations. The second response from the position of the Will Theory can also be found in Steiner. Children themselves do not ‘hold’ a right in the Hohfeldian sense. However, there does exist a right that some child not be harmed, but this right is transferred to an adequate rightholder such as a parent or guardian. If a parent is unable or unwilling to insist on the right it can be moved up the ‘institutional chain’ to a higher authority, such as a local governmental council or a church. In the case of the local authority, a subordinate state official holds a disability to waive a person’s duty not to harm a child. 5 The legal right exists, but it is just found as a correlative duty in an adequate right-holder. The problem with this account is that it is often the parent whom we most want to protect the child from. Consider, for example, the horrific case of Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter locked in solitary confinement for 24 years, systematically abusing and raping her.6 The ‘right’ is not in better hands merely because it has been transferred to an agent deemed capable of the role of waiver and enforcer. Moving the right further up the chain to a local authority could produce similar dangers. The catholic church in Boston, USA, fostered children to find them homes. But these very churches were sexually exploiting the children they were trusted to protect. 7 In such cases of harm towards children, then, the general Will Theory response of ‘let the child’s right move up the institutional chain of command’ is unsatisfactory. The upward movement of rights, and thus by extension obligations and duties, is an inherently dangerous and misguided solution. This is ultimately because we want rights to start further down at the base, with the very individual whose interests are being attacked, and we care not that someone higher up might be in a position to better waive or enforce the right. This is analogous to saying that ‘because some person x has superior intelligence, x is in a better position to judge moral decisions’. Capability or intelligence is not squared with moral goodness.

Ibid., p.72. Marsh, S. and Pancevski, B. (2009), The Crimes of Josef Fritzl: Uncovering the Truth, London: HarperElement, p.6. 7 Engel, M. (2002), “Sex Abuse Cover-up Rocks Boston’s Catholic Church”, The Guardian, 23 February, p.16. 5 6


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Education Another candidate for a core right is the right to education. Education has instrumental value as a provisory right, or a ‘freedom to’, in that it opens pathways to sentiently pleasant experiences. For example, someone’s linguistic abilities gained in their earliest years of school may have helped them to form valuable relationships or read great works of literature. Thus, an Interest Theory grounded in sentience can afford my right to education, for the instrumental good it will do for my conscious experiences. The extent of the right to education a child may have is more difficult; but certainly a minimally protected right to some basic educational level is plausible. Once again, the Will Theory would fail to grant a child a right to education. One particularly problematic claim the Will Theory makes is that a rightholder must know who owes the correlative duty to a particular claim. This is built into the overarching argument that a right is recognised as the ability to waive or enforce a claim; one must have the requisite knowledge of who to aim the claim at. This is epistemically problematic because many children, especially those of a young age, that we think have a right to education, might not understand the precise implications of this right. But this requirement to have particular knowledge about which entity holds the correlative duty is unnecessarily restrictive. As Raz argues, we do not need to know whether the provision of education is local, national, extends to primary or secondary, to nonetheless be confident that it is a right we hold as beings whose interests are furthered by it. 8 These intricacies, while important, are inessential to holding a right. Rights are ultimately supposed to protect and in some sense benefit us, rather than be burdensome or restrictive. To argue that these epistemic restrictions are fundamental to rights as the Will Theory does is to move further away from what we intuitively understand a right to be: protective, beneficial and powerful. One response from Will Theory is that I have exaggerated this ‘epistemic burden’. Let us allow, for current purposes, the Steiner defence that the right to education exists as a legal right, but it is not held by the child. After all, the previous section did not deny the fact that parents or institutions can act morally on the children’s behalf. Parents, who hold the right on behalf of the child, are not kept awake at night, confused or worried about who to make the claim towards over a duty to provide education. It is quite obvious that the state has this duty, and so we make claims on our local government to provide education. The system of taxation in Britain, to take one example, is

8

Raz, J. (1988), The Morality of Freedom, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.185.


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evidence that we have all in some way paid a small duty to which the state ought – as a matter of legal right – to provide. The problem with this response is that it is only a contingent fact about the way things happen to be in our society at this point in time that we can unproblematically point to where the correlative duties lie in the case of a legal right to education. For example in Somalia, due in large part to wars and colonial rule, the society is comparatively stateless; there is not a clear local government to provide education.9 The location of a correlative duty to provide education really might keep the parents of a child in Somalia awake at night. This suggests that the epistemic need to have some intricate knowledge of the implications of the right is too stringent, for rights are not to be only understood in terms of enforceability. Sometimes those who need them most are the same people who are limited in their ability to execute them. Thus, a rightholder can and should be any being with interests, not a being with some intricate or conclusive knowledge of the right. Scalar Will Theory Michael Tooley offers a more scalar approach to the Will Theory, which can allow children certain fundamental rights. Here, it is not taken as absolute that children lack the ability to have power over their rights (the ability to either waive or enforce the right). There exists a cut-off point at which an organism can be said to possess some right because they have developed a level of consciousness as things with existing mental states, and subsequent desires to continue experiencing these existing mental states.10 Thus the ability of animals to express desires, such as desires not to be harmed (screaming out in pain when electrocuted, for instance), is sufficient for us to count them as making a claim on someone not to harm them. The animal cases suggest that rights do not necessarily have to be held by some epistemically capable entity with intricate knowledge of the right (which has been shown as problematic). A caseby-case examination could therefore quite easily show that children hold conscious desires, and therefore have rights to them, insofar as the expression of these desires amounts to making a claim over them. A 12-year-old is probably of a sufficient age to express some desire to continue with their academic life, and to know that they are reaping certain benefits from it.

Lewis, I. M. (1997), “Making History in Somalia: Humanitarian Intervention in a Stateless Society”, Horn of Africa, 15(4), p.17. 10 Tooley, M. (1972), “Abortion and Infanticide”, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 2(1), p.46. 9


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The problem with the scalar approach is that it is nevertheless insistent on the right as a claim that can be waived or enforced. It does not move away from the crucial element of Will Theory which sees control in exercising as a crucial feature of rights, for there exist some rights that we think unwaivable, regardless of any desire shown by some agent to waive it. A child of a young age might express strong and seemingly genuine desires to become a slave, perhaps even by some logical argument. However, the child becomes vulnerable in a slave-state, and as such their sentience is open to violation, such as physical abuse from an owner. The right not to be enslaved is one instance of an unwaivable right that we hold.11 However, slavery is an extreme example, and Tooley could respond by saying that no child would ever truly desire it. Such a desire would presumably have come about via some temporary delusion, such as a bout of depression.12 But we could equally say that even in the less extreme case of coming to the decision of suspending their formal education, a child might be easily swayed by those unimportant desires, such as not wanting to wake up early, or to spend more time playing video games. We have no good reason to discount these desires as ingenuine, but we still think a child has no choice in whether or not they should attend school. What we begin to see in these Interest Theory arguments for unwaivable rights is the risk of paternalism. Autonomous desires are not the basis for rights, and therefore rights are not truly exercisable on our say-so; they are left inbuilt into an objective account of interests. But as has been suggested, rights surely benefit us as well as protect us. As such, we ought to be able to act on something we think is beneficial through our own autonomous means. Therefore, children who show the requisite autonomy should hold powers as waiver or enforcer. One reason to deny this has been mentioned: autonomy is not as crucial a feature of human beings as sentience, which is shared by all. But more importantly, it is the very fact that humans are fallible beings - beings that, as Tooley recognises, are susceptible to delusions, mental illnesses and so on - that makes unwaivable rights better protectors. Children can often have correct ideas of what is best for them, but it is still a safer bet to protect their interests. This is because, generally, children know less about the world and themselves than adults, and so are less likely to hold relevant information to consider when forming decisions. If adults are fallible, and need their interests

11 12

MacCormick, N. (1977), Rights in Legislation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.197. Tooley, M. (1972), “Abortion and Infanticide�, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 2(1), p.48.


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protected on these grounds, children need even more protecting. They should actually be afforded more rights that are unwaivable. To conclude, children can hold rights. Rights, on the Interest Theory, can be grounded in the sentience and consciousness of the human child. This aligns with our intuition that children have a right not to be harmed. The fact that a child is not in a better position than some parent or institution to enforce the right is an unsatisfactory defence. Furthermore, the knowledge of who owes the duty should not be required by the child rightholder; this makes rights burdensome. One can simply know of the existence of a right. Finally, the attempt to reconcile Will Theory in allowing a more scalar understanding of who can hold rights proved problematic in that it maintained the idea of a right holder as always in a position to waive or enforce, where some rights are unwaivable. References Engel, M. (2002), “Sex Abuse Cover-up Rocks Boston’s Catholic Church”, The Guardian, 23 February, p.16. Feinberg, J. (1970), “The nature and value of rights”, The Journal of Value Inquiry, 4(4), pp.243-260. Feinberg, J. (1974), “The Rights of Animals and Future Generations”, in W. Blackstone (ed.), (1974), Philosophy and Environmental Crisis, Athens: University of Georgia Press, pp.43-68. Hart, H. L. A. (1982), Essays on Bentham: Jurisprudence and Political Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lewis, I. M. (1997), “Making History in Somalia: Humanitarian Intervention in a Stateless Society”, Horn of Africa, 15(4), pp.8-29. MacCormick, N. (1977), Rights in Legislation, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Marsh, S. and Pancevski, B. (2009), The Crimes of Josef Fritzl: Uncovering the Truth, London: HarperElement. Raz, J. (1988), The Morality of Freedom, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Steiner, H. (1994), An Essay on Rights, Oxford: Blackwell. Tooley, M. (1972), “Abortion and Infanticide”, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 2(1), pp.37-65.


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Does Pornography harm women?

Peter Heath, 3rd Year Essay BA (Hons) Economics and Politics

Abstract: This paper considers the harms done to women by pornography. It considers first what materials should be properly considered pornographic. It then shows that the production of pornography harms female performers through the exploitation of vulnerabilities, and the commodification of harm done to them. It then outlines the framework by which empirical testing would allow us to conclude that pornography does harm women in society more generally.

In this essay I will argue that pornography harms women in several ways. I will do this by considering separately the harms done to women in general and to those involved in the production of pornography specifically. I will begin by outlining why this discussion must be based in a comprehensive idea of what pornography is, based on the framework of Michael Rea, 1 rather than the traditional feminist description advanced by, among others, Catherine MacKinnon.2 Using this conception, I will evaluate the extent to which pornography can be said to cause harm to the women involved in it through other rights violations such as coercion, and commodification and exploitation in the making of pornography itself. I will then consider the case for harm through the normalisation of degrading and unequal sexual relationships. It should be noted that this essay will answer only the question posed and any necessary secondary questions required to answer this. As such I will not be considering the political or legal implications of the harm described, in particular whether these harms are sufficient to override any rights to freedom of speech that pornographers might have. Additionally, any benefits of pornography for women will only be considered as far as they directly mitigate potential harms. What is Pornography?

1 2

Rea, M.C. (2001), “What is pornography?”, Noûs, 35(1), pp.118-145. MacKinnon, C.A. (1987), Feminism unmodified: discourses on life and law, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


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Having a comprehensive, real definition of pornography is essential to answering the question of its harmfulness. Failure to accurately define the term can lead to people to “talking past each other”. 3 Many attempts to define pornography appear to be driven by the content of what people want to say about pornography and as such fall short of being “real” definitions,4 a definition that captures accurately the way that the term is used. To illustrate this point and why a real definition is to be preferred, let us consider two popular approaches to defining pornography: obscenity and oppression. Many people have appealed to obscenity as a defining characteristic of, and reason for prohibiting, pornography. Indeed, the legal definition in the US uses obscenity and pornography interchangeably in outlawing material which is offensively sexually explicit to “community standards”.5 This is not then a law against pornography, but a law against obscene sexually explicit content. The flaw of this being used as a real definition is clear when one considers what happens if community standards change over time. If it were the case that community standards changed such that pornography was no longer offensive the term pornography would now describe nothing, and material formerly denoted pornography would require a new term despite not changing in content nor use. Note that for those seeking to ban pornography for its obscenity, this is not a serious problem, as it is precisely the offensiveness of the material that makes it objectionable. This shows that while obscenity is a useful legal quality, it is insufficient as part of a full description of what pornography is. Secondly, consider what I will call the feminist definition of pornography, although that label is rejected by many who consider themselves feminists.6 As outlined by MacKinnon,7 this definition holds that pornography is sexually explicit material which subordinates women.8 MacKinnon also insists that pornography endorses the subordination of women. 9 This description of pornography does not align with common usage as most people would consider a video of a heterosexual couple having sex in a mutual and consensual fashion posted on a pornography website to be pornography, and some people would argue that such a video does not subjugate women. Feminist users of this definition term sexually explicit material that is not pornography erotica.

West, C. (2005), “Pornography and Censorship”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 Edition). Rea, M.C. (2001), “What Is Pornography?”, Noûs, 35(1), p.123. 5 Zurcher L.A., Jr. and Kirkpatrick, R.G. (1976), Citizens for Decency: Antipornography Crusades as Status Defense, Austin: University of Texas Press, p.11. 6 For example: Shellrude, K. (2001), “Coming between the lines: A fresh look at the writings of anti-porn and whore feminists”, Canadian Woman Studies, 21(1), pp.41-45. 7 MacKinnon, C.A. (1987), Feminism unmodified: discourses on life and law, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, p.176. 8 MacKinnon clarifies that while the subjugated party in pornography is not always a woman, men as well as children and transsexuals can take the place of women. 9 MacKinnon, C.A. (1987), Feminism unmodified: discourses on life and law, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, p.176. 3 4


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This distinction consciously does not match common ideas about what pornography is, and instead allows feminist authors to clearly delineate what it is they are objecting to and legislating against. As with definitions from obscenity, the feminist definition is better thought of as a value judgement and as such is problematic for the purposes of discussing pornography. Consider, for example, the form of the argument that pornography, as defined by feminists, causes harm: P1.

Pornography is sexually explicit material which subordinates women (the feminist definition).

P2.

Being subordinated harms women.

C.

Pornography harms women. It is clear that in this argument the primary source of contention is P1, supposedly a definition.

A definition being controversial is not in itself a weakness, but in this case it presents two problems: firstly, the counterexample presented above of the couple sharing film of themselves has intuitive appeal which, if wrong, would take significant argument to prove and secondly, much ultimately fruitless discussion could be avoided by exchanging “pornography” for “some pornography” in both P1 and C. The altered P1 is fairly uncontroversial and easily provable, 10 making the argument more forceful. Crucially, if one believes the feminist definition, then the meaning of C is not changed. Whether the group of material which harms women is labelled “pornography” or “some pornography” is of little importance if, as in legal definitions, the specific nature of such harmful pornography is outlined. This has the added benefit of making disputes around whether particular material subordinates women expressly about the material at hand and its properties, rather than the confusing proxy debate of whether or not it should be labelled as pornography. In summary, both definitions can be used to create effective laws that enforce value judgements, but from the point of philosophical inquiry, they are weakened by counter-examples and as such cannot be said to be real definitions of pornography. In a search for real definitions, theorists have suggested that some combination of the purpose and effect of certain material makes it pornographic.11 Rea outlines some pitfalls of many of these approaches,12 building a comprehensive real definition which can be summarised as follows: (1) X is used as pornography if the person using it does so primarily for sexual gratification, (2) X is pornography if it is reasonable to assume that most Lim, M.S., Carrotte, E.R. and Hellard, M.E. (2016), “The impact of pornography on gender-based violence, sexual health and well-being: what do we know?”, J Epidemiol Community Health, 70(1), p.3. 11 Narveson, J. (1999), Moral Matters, Peterborough: Broadview Press, p.275. 12 Rea, M.C. (2001), “What Is Pornography?”, Noûs, 35(1), pp.118-145. 10


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of its intended audience will use it as pornography.13 I believe this definition to be comprehensive and without value judgements as to the harm or otherwise of pornography. From this base we can confidently proceed to discuss whether material which fits this definition harms women. Harms to women in pornography The most apparent harm to women in pornography comes from actions that are themselves rights violations carried out in order to coerce women into producing pornography. An example is the violence, torture, emotional abuse and drug consumption that Linda Lovelace was subjected to prior to the making of the famous pornographic film “Deep Throat”. 14 These harms are very serious and perhaps the greatest of all the harms caused by pornography. They are, however, separate from the idea of pornography itself and as such are resolvable without significant change to the nature of pornography. As such in this section I will be focussing specifically on the harm to women in pornography through the commodification and exploitation of their bodies and sexualities. Unlike the coercive rights violations, these harms are not only crimes in themselves, but are also inherent to the nature of pornography. 1. Exploitation The harms of exploitation and commodification are unambiguously caused by pornography. Here are two separate but connected charges: the exploitation of the poverty or desperation of many performers, and the commodification of the women’s bodies and sexualities. MacKinnon claims that many performers are deprived of alternatives, have a history of sexual abuse, are without money, shelter, security and hope, and pornography is the exploitation of this disadvantage, typically to extract profits for the producers of the pornography.15 These disadvantages can also include those described above when they are inflicted by the producers themselves. This clearly constitutes harm to the women involved, who may experience pain, humiliation and long-lasting psychological trauma. A liberal argument might contend that, provided there is no coercion as described above, these women are making autonomous choices to accept whatever harms they may experience rather than the alternative of not working, just as many more conventional low-paid workers face undesirable

For full definition and defence see Ibid., p.134. West, C. (2005), “Pornography and Censorship”, The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 Edition). 15 MacKinnon, C.A. (2005), “Pornography as Trafficking”, Michigan Journal of International Law, 26(4), p.993. 13 14


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or dangerous conditions in order to meet their basic needs. Such a choice might need to be respected, but it is still the case that it is a choice to be harmed by taking action they would not otherwise choose to take. This harm is clearly dependent on whether it is true to say that appearing in pornography is something that women would not do if it were the case that they were not disadvantaged in the ways described. Here we move to consider the commodification of hypothetical women who consent to be in pornography because they value it for its own sake, but it is important to note that MacKinnon and others believe that the sort of disadvantages described are widespread among pornographic performers. The argument that many of the women in pornography are having their disadvantages exploited proves that some or even many of these women are harmed, but it can be and is readily countered that this is not necessarily true of all women. Nina Hartley claims that her career in pornography has taught her to “have confidence in herself, her body, and her sexuality”, 16 strongly refuting the claim that she or others she knows were coerced into the industry. This account must be taken seriously, so I will consider a limiting case of this perspective to prove that even if the choice is both truly consensual and genuinely beneficial, there is still harm to be considered. 2. Commodification Ann was raised in a reasonably wealthy, loving and intellectually honest family who valued her education and self-actualisation. She has a range of alternative job offers, no history of sexual abuse, the opportunity to earn money in other ways, security and hope (MacKinnon’s conditions). She, for her own reasons, desires a career in pornography. A key detail here is that although she could have pursued other employment opportunities, once she is committed to pornography she is dependent on it for her income, at least in the short term. Let us consider what we might say about her choice to: a) appear in what feminists would term erotica, b) appear in pornography that portrays her as degraded, lesser, and subservient to men, c) appear in pornography like b) which features open, real displays of violence and d) eschew a career in pornography for a career of mildly fulfilling office work. In case a), we are assuming that the sex acts undertaken cause Ann no significant physical pain or discomfort, and so there is no significant physical harm involved. Of course, over the course of a career there could be physical harms associated with repetitive actions but for our purposes we will Shellrude, K. (2001), “Coming between the lines: A fresh look at the writings of anti-porn and whore feminists”, Canadian Woman Studies, 21(1), p.43. 16


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assume these are controllable and at most no worse than pains that could be accrued in d) through poor posture or lack of physical activity. Andrea Dworkin would argue that by participating in heterosexual sex, Ann is objectifying herself as it is impossible for equal and respectful sex to occur.17 This idea is highly controversial, and I believe there are good reasons for dismissing it, but for the sake of completeness let us consider that it is the case. If Ann is objectifying herself by having sex with men and therefore harming herself, it is still not clear that Ann is harmed by pornography unless we can assume that she would not have sex with men were it not for pornography. Even if we take Dworkin’s argument as given, it is not the case that pornography is harming Ann, rather that she is harming herself by her lifestyle choices, and then pursues a career that matches her value set. In the case b), there is a prima facie harm to Ann as it is against her interests to be degraded and subservient. Given her free choice for this option we must acknowledge that Ann is therefore willing to accept this harm, either for the financial gain or because she derives pleasure from it, or both. If this choice is purely hedonistic then it is difficult to conclude that Ann is being harmed, but it must be considered that with any source of pleasure there are often diminishing returns, and due to financial necessity, Ann will not be free to stop performing when it becomes a harm to her. Although through different paths, over the long run both explanations become accepting of degradation and subservience for financial gains. We can call this commodification,18 where valuing something on the market, in this case ideas about her self-worth, causes Ann to devalue them by ignoring some of their intrinsic value. It could be argued that Ann’s decision to accept the harms of being degraded is autonomous and therefore worthy of respect, but the possibility of this choice shows that asking Ann to make such a choice can already harm her, by forcing her to put a price on her intrinsic sense of selfworth, failing to respect that sense in the proper way. With the case of c), similar potential for harms from commodification exist, only here Ann is not only valuing her sense of self-worth but also her own physical health on a market. It is important to note how this argument differs from a moral judgement about what people should do or value. Such an argument might run that people should not consent to being physically harmed. Ann might counter that she enjoys being physically harmed in a sexual context, in which case she should be free to do so according to liberal principles (remember that Ann is free of the forces that MacKinnon thinks make such a judgement unfree). The commodification argument, however, makes no judgement

17 18

Dworkin, A. (2006), Intercourse, New York: Basic Books. Anderson, E.S. (1990), “Is Women’s Labor a Commodity?”, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 19(1), pp.71-92.


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about what Ann should (not) do, it only observes that by having to make the decision, she is forced to value her safety and self-worth on a market, rather than as their own intrinsic value. In summary we can make the following statements about women who appear in pornography: i.

Some are coerced into doing so in a way that violates their rights and harms them.

ii.

Some are disadvantaged and have this exploited by pornographers for profit. These women are harmed by acting against their will and being denied the money they earned.

iii.

Any women who feature in violent or degrading pornography (which may be all pornography) are harmed by having their self-worth and safety commodified. Harms to women by pornography In this section I will consider the harms to women generally stemming from pornography. I

will consider two claims about how and why pornography harms women. Firstly, I will build on a thought experiment used by Michael Rea,19 showing that pornography in the abstract sense must harm women given the background level of sexism in society. Secondly, I will summarise Anne Eaton’s case for how the observed nature or pornography leads to harm for women.20 This approach allows me to first show that pornography is theoretically bound to harm women, and then to illustrate how those dynamics have been observed. 1. The Profit Machine The thought experiment of the Profit Machine is one in a sequence that the author uses to construct improbable scenarios which test the limits of our conceptions of what pornography is. 21 In this case, we imagine a software programme which takes anthropological data from an isolated community and determines the profit maximising business model, and then carries it out. Importantly, the community in question has no history of pornography in any form but retains in some form the sexist and sexualising features of most societies in the world today. Our software has no moral compass other than to obey laws. It resembles, therefore, what microeconomic theorists might

Rea, M.C. (2001), “What Is Pornography?”, Noûs, 35(1), pp.118-145. Eaton, A.W. (2007), “A Sensible Antiporn Feminism”, Ethics, 117(4), pp.674-715. 21 Rea, M.C. (2001), “What Is Pornography?”, Noûs, 35(1), pp.121-122. 19 20


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call the perfect firm, responding precisely to the market conditions it finds itself in. The profit machine therefore is a good proxy of the overall behaviour of a competitive market. We suppose further that this machine decides the most efficient way to separate members of the community from their money is to sell a pornographic magazine. The magazine initially portrays, as best as possible, equal sexual relationships. Readership is evenly split between men and women. Remembering our sexist backdrop, viewers looking at these images of equal relationships will perceive them as unequal, with men as the dominant force. As this perception of the magazine is taken up, those who are stimulated by the idea of an unequal relationship (typically men) will become more likely to buy the magazine. This will already cause harm to women as the visual reinforcement of male dominance will cause men to feel more entitled to be dominant. In this way the market reproduces and solidifies biases in the population. We might now expect our profit machine to respond to new information about the preferences of its audience and begin to publish material which actually does depict male domination. This shift will continue until the level of male domination in the magazine mirrors the level of sexism in the community. This, in turn, can amplify biases in the population as it reproduces them in a concrete way. Overall, we can expect the market in pornography to converge to the level of sexism in a society and amplify and legitimise that sexism. The ways in which pornography amplifies and legitimises harmful sexist attitudes is the subject of the next section. 2. Eaton’s harm principle In her case for her feminist critique of pornography, Eaton is concerned with “inegalitarian pornography”,22 which matches MacKinnon’s description of all pornography. As I have shown in the Profit Machine example, such pornography is inevitable in and a defender of a sexist society. Eaton’s central idea is that such pornography causes beliefs and attitudes that harm women. I will precis her full argument here: i.

Society unjustly disadvantages women.

ii.

This disadvantage is maintained and amplified by social factors including religion, media representation, and physical violence.

22

Eaton, A.W. (2007), “A Sensible Antiporn Feminism”, Ethics, 117(4), p.677.


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iii.

Gender inequality is erotically appealing for some people.

iv.

This erotic appeal stems from many forms of art and representation, including pornography.

v.

The erotic appeal of gender inequality is a strong force for gender inequality. Parts i-iii are all obviously true to at least some extent, but part vi bears in-depth inspection,

in particular as to whether pornography itself causes or accentuates the erotic appeal of inequality. One argument that Eaton uses is that art often promotes ideas by coupling emotion with its message, and that the use of pornography to cause arousal and aid masturbation cause the viewer to positively associate with its imagery.23 In this sense the less-than-averagely-sexist man in our isolated community could become more sexist through using pornography that depicts gender inequality. Another strength of this argument is that it is not dependent on any statement about whether these dynamics are shaped by biology. This was also absent in the profit machine example where the human urges of the creators of pornography were taken out of the equation. This offers hope that pornography need not be necessarily harmful in this way, but that reducing these harms is not as simple as producing pornography which does not depict unequal relationships. It is made clear that the claim that pornography causes harm in this way represents a hypothesis awaiting empirical testing.24 We cannot say with certainty that harm is caused as a direct result of pornography, only that women are harmed in society and that pornography exists within that society, portraying women in many ways such that they are then harmed. We have good normative reasons to believe that pornography harms women at large, but these harms are based on empirical predictions rather than directly on reasoning. Conclusion I have argued that pornography harms women. The serious harms done to women in pornography start with the significant levels of coercion and other rights violations observed in much of the industry. It is clear that many women in pornography are exploited for the various vulnerabilities they have, and that they are harmed by taking actions they would otherwise choose not to. Even for those who truly choose to appear in pornography, that choice in itself becomes harmful when they become reliant on the money earned in pornography. I have also constructed a plausible 23 24

Ibid., p.680. Ibid., p.715.


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hypothesis for how pornography can harm women more generally, although it requires robust empirical testing before we can say with confidence that women are harmed in this way. References Anderson, E.S. (1990), “Is Women’s Labor a Commodity?”, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 19(1), pp.71-92. Dworkin, A. (2006), Intercourse, New York: Basic Books. Eaton, A.W. (2007), “A Sensible Antiporn Feminism”, Ethics, 117(4), pp.674-715. Lim, M.S., Carrotte, E.R. and Hellard, M.E. (2016), “The impact of pornography on gender-based violence, sexual health and well-being: what do we know?”, J Epidemiol Community Health, 70(1), pp.3-5. MacKinnon, C.A. (1987), Feminism unmodified: discourses on life and law, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. MacKinnon, C.A. (2004), “Pornography as Trafficking”, Michigan Journal of International Law, 26(4), pp.993-1012. Narveson, J. (1999), Moral Matters, Peterborough: Broadview Press. Rea, M.C. (2001), “What Is Pornography?”, Noûs, 35(1), pp.118-145. Shellrude, K. (2001), “Coming between the lines: A fresh look at the writings of anti-porn and whore feminists”, Canadian Woman Studies, 21(1), pp.41-45. West, C. (2005), “Pornography and Censorship”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 Edition). Available at: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/pornographycensorship/, (Accessed: 20 January 2019) Zurcher, L.A., Jr. and Kirkpatrick, R.G. (1976), Citizens for Decency: Antipornography Crusades as Status Defense, Austin: University of Texas Press.


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Do practices matter? The impact of practices on the Security Council’s decision-making in the case of Syria

Lola Jaccod, 3rd Year Essay BSocSc (Hons) Politics and International Relations

Abstract: This paper investigates how everyday practices within the UN Security Council influences the decision-making of this body. Drawing on practice theory, this essay will argue overall that even though state-centric theory may be useful in understanding some of the outcomes of decision-making, the study of everyday practices matters in the process of decision-making within the UN Security Council. I first observe that the practice of penholding shapes the debate and the decision taken by members. Second, I argue that the practices impacting who gets to speak and what gets to be said are essential to understand the decision reached by members of the council. Third, I observe the importance of language in the shaping of the decision-making process. Fourth and finally I show that practices produce a certain indifference among members of the council, which influences the decision made. Introduction Less than a month after Donald Trump has announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, John Bolton announced some conditions for their departure.1 The issue in Syria has proven to be highly contentious and has been on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council since 2011. This body is controlled by the provisional rules of procedure which were adopted in 1946 by the United Nations Security Council itself. A few amendments have been made since then, with the last one having been adopted in 1982. However, working methods have been implemented informally within the Security Council. These practices have shown to be influential in the decision-making of the United Nations (UN). Practice theory has increasingly emerged within the last twenty years – rather than analysing states as the unit determining the decision-making, practice theory aims at analysing habits and everyday practices in order to better understand “how power works”. 2 Practice theory is especially relevant in understanding the decision-making process concerning particular

1

DeYoung, K. and Demirjian, K. (2019), “Contradicting Trump, Bolton says no withdrawal from Syria until ISIS destroyed, Kurds’ safety guaranteed”, The Washington Post, 6 January. 2 Adler-Nissen, R. (2016), “Towards a Practice Turn in EU Studies: The Everyday of European Integration”, Journal of Common Market Studies, 54(1), pp.87-103.


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security issues, such as the case of Syria. Since 2011, international concern has risen with regards to the dictatorial regime of Bashar Al-Assad and the infractions made to international law concerning human rights. The Security Council has implemented resolutions and published presidential statements to address the situation. However, divisions persist among members of the council which have influenced the decisions set up to impact the outcome of the crisis. In this particular case, it is very important to analyse the everyday practices which have proven to be influential in the decisionmaking and debates. This essay will thus argue that in the case of Syria, though state-centric theory may be useful in understanding some of the outcomes of decision-making, the study of everyday practices in the process of decision-making within the UN Security Council is also necessary to better understand the outcomes. I first observe that the practice of penholding shapes the debate and the decisions taken by members. Second, I argue that the practices impacting who gets to speak and what gets to be said are essential to understand the decision reached by members of the council. Third, I observe the importance of language in the shaping of the decision-making process. Fourth and finally, I show that practices produce a certain indifference among members of the council, which influences the decision made. The practice of penholding Informal processes within the Security Council have been more and more analysed in an attempt to understand the dynamics of power among the council members. They interact with formal structures and create balances of power that shape the debates and decisions made. 3 These imbalances of power exist in the case of Syria between the permanent members (P5) and the elected members (E10), but also between the P3 (UK, US and France) as well as Russia and China. This results in P3 holding most of the power on the decision concerning the case of Syria because they dominate the negotiation process. The penholding system in the case of the Syrian crisis shows a difference in knowledge of the institution of the Security Council. The elected members, only being in the council for two years, do not have the opportunity to get used to the practices of the P5 which have institutional memory thanks to their permanent membership. On humanitarian issues in Syria, Kuwait and Sweden are the current penholders. This is not part of the normalised practices, which shows that they have learnt the diplomatic skills relevant to influence an outcome. However, on the more important issues which Schia, N. (2017), “Horseshoe and Catwalk: Power, Complexity, and Consensus-Making in the United Nations Security Council�, in R. Niezen and M. Sapignoli (eds.), (2017), Palaces of Hope: The Anthropology of Global Organizations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 3


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matter most to certain states, such as nuclear proliferation, the US and sometimes Russia draft most of the resolutions.4 Being the penholder on a resolution is a big advantage because it allows a country to set the terms of the debate on this particular issue; indeed, few amendments are made from an initial draft. The P5 has experience on how to behave for the resolution to pass on their terms. For instance, Russia circulated a draft on 23rd of January 2018 concerning the establishment of a new mechanism to control the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Despite two meetings to revise some elements of the draft, Russia did not modify its text and put it in blue. 5 It is thus shown that Russia, and more generally the P5’s “metis”, or practical knowledge, of the drafting process helps them influencing what is to be included in the resolution and how to make it pass. The power of penholding is so strong that the P5 sometimes put in competing draft resolutions to be adopted. In April 2018, both Russia and the US proposed draft resolutions on the establishment of UNIMI. Sweden had proposed another draft, which Russia presented substantially modified. 6 Neither of the three drafts were adopted. Sweden, as an elected member, tried to bring in their own perspective, but Russia’s knowledge of the practices surrounding penholding prevented Sweden from having an influence over the resolution. Penholding thus shapes the negotiation process, which tends to be dominated by P3 or P5 because of their institutional experience. The penholder system creates an imbalance of power between the P5 and the E10, which strongly shapes the final decision made by the council. Dominated throughout the negotiation process, the E10 moreover do not want to disrupt the agreement reached with difficulty between the P3 and Russia and China. With Syria being a contentious issue where divisions within the P5 exist, the drafting process is dominated by the US and Russia. After the 2013 attack by the Syrian government on its civilians, the UK drafted a resolution. It was only discussed with the permanent five members and had not been circulated to the E10. The latter therefore did not have the possibility to have influence on the draft before an agreement was reached among the P5. 7 This is a recurrent pattern, since it has been reported that on resolutions 2254 and 2268 the US and Russia met to discuss the draft before giving it to the other permanent members and then to the elected members. 8 Even when elected members could change a resolution, they do not want to risk disrupting the agreement reached by the P5 and do not propose amendments to a resolution. Even though this action could be considered as a consequence of state power (since P5 agreement is important because of their veto power), E10 do Security Council Report (2018a), April 2018 Monthly Forecast: Syria. Ibid. 6 Ibid. 7 What’s in Blue (2013), Syria Draft Resolution. 8 Security Council Report (2016), April 2016 Monthly Forecast: Syria. 4 5


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not challenge P5’s influence in the penholding system because they are not socialised into the practices of the Security Council. It can thus be said that the council has institutional power, because the structure of the council affects the agency of council members in a particular dynamic of power that changes their ability to impact a decision. Who gets to speak and what gets to be said? The UN Security Council, through informal practices, constrains who can speak, what can be said and how it is said, which shapes what gets to be included in the agenda and in the resolutions, thus influencing the decisions made within the body. There are norms of what can be said within meetings and debates, and breaching these norms can impact someone or something’s legitimacy. 9 It can be first observed that the low accessibility of non-member countries to the Security Council meetings can influence what perspectives are given on the issue of Syria. For instance, a meeting of the Security Council occurred on 17 October 2018 on the establishment of a constitutional committee in Syria. Iran and Turkey participated in the council meetings since September because they are Astana guarantors. The members of the small group (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Germany) asked to participate to the meeting. Even though Russia opposed the presence of Germany, Bolivia, at the time holding the presidency of the Security Council, approved each member’s presence.10 These countries requested to assist to meetings under rule 37 of the provisional rules of procedure, which is a formal practice. The fact that Bolivia carried out the presidency of the Security Council is also part of the formal rules of procedure, because presidency changes every month. However, it allowed Bolivia, as an elected member, to shape the form of the debate and influence the agenda, and thus to change the dynamics of power within the council, known usually to be in favour of the P5. Depending on the country influential at the time, who gets to speak may change. The perspectives given on an issue may differ and the outcome as well, ultimately. For third parties to speak, it can also be complicated since practices and norms shape the accessibility to briefings and Arria Formula meetings. Steffan de Mistura and Mark Lowcock are usually the anticipated participants to these meetings, as respectively ‘Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria’ and ‘Under-SecretaryGeneral for Humanitarian Affairs’.11 No third parties are invited which could bring challenging

Gibbings, S. L. (2011), “No Angry Women at The United Nations: Political Dreams and the Cultural Politics of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325”, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 13(4), pp.522-538. 10 Security Council Report (2018e), November 2018 Monthly Forecast: Syria. 11 United Nations Security Council (2017), Resolution 2393. 9


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narratives to the “normative speech style of the UN”. 12 By selecting the speakers at these meetings, the Security Council is selecting the narratives that can be told and not told, and thus shaping the decision-making on Syria. This low accessibility to speaking is supplemented by the selection of the language that can be spoken within the Security Council meetings. Bourdieu’s theory of language emphasises that “one of the key ways that power is negotiated at the UN is through language”.13 What can be said represents an important dynamic in the negotiation process and the consensus-making on Syria. Indeed, members of the Security Council can influence the perspectives brought on a matter in different ways. For instance, as a penholder, one can usually organise meetings on the same issue. The US, penholder on the non-proliferation of chemical weapons in Syria, requested a meeting on 21 September 2017; they circulated a concept note with the themes to be addressed. The US could therefore bring about the issue of the enforcement of resolutions on this case, which they may not have been able to do otherwise. Another example are the UN-facilitated Geneva Talks that occurred at the beginning of 2016. De Mistura decided to postpone the talks because the opposition party, the High Negotiations Committee, did not attend. An official explanation has been given saying the talks had been postponed because of the Russian airstrikes occurring the same week. However, some questions have been raised concerning the possible desire to shape the debate by De Mistura. What is more, the latter hesitated to invite the PYD (Kurdish Democratic Union Party) to the negotiations with more than an observer status.14 It can be deduced that De Mistura could influence the narratives of the talks by delegitimising one party of the negotiations. The norms of narratives and what gets to be said are thus influenced by informal processes within the UN Security Council, which results in shaping the decision-making process. The practice of language According to Foucault’s theory, the “production of discourse is controlled, selected, organised and redistributed according to a certain number of procedures”.15 Applied to the UN Security Council and its practices, language reflects the interpretation of one particular situation, and thus can justify one’s position. Norms rule what is acceptable to be said within resolutions and during meetings, and can increase or undermine the legitimacy of a country, thus impacting its influence in Gibbings, S. L. (2011), “No Angry Women at The United Nations: Political Dreams and the Cultural Politics of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325”, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 13(4), pp.522-538. 13 Ibid. 14 What’s in Blue (2016), Special Envoy to brief on Intra-Syrian Talks. 15 Foucault, M. (1971), “Orders Of Discourse”, Social Science Information, 10(2), pp.7-30. 12


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the negotiation process and the outcome of a decision. In the case of Syria, language holds great power in shaping the debates and decisions. For instance, on resolution 2393, aimed at renewing crossborder humanitarian aid, the penholders were Egypt, Japan and Sweden. While they wanted to focus on the operational part of the issue, the P3 and Russia and China debated over how to describe the security situation in Syria.16 Russia wanted to emphasise the de-escalation areas, and the P3 wanted to underline the continued violence against civilians. These different narratives reflected the states’ interpretation of the situation in Syria; the penholders were forced to have good practice and make a compromise on language, thus undermining the importance of the operational part.17 Another example shows that breaking these norms of good practice can prevent good negotiations and the implementation of resolutions. In 2012, in response to the governmental violence against civilians, a draft was circulated but was vetoed by Russia and China. Following the vote, the ambassador of the UK broke the rules and called out the two specific countries that cast their veto, saying it is “appalled by the decision of Russia and China”.18 This statement prevented further diplomatic discussions for future agreement. Another example of the breaching of these norms is when Saudi Arabia was present at a meeting of the council on 17 October 2018. Syria and Saudi Arabia started to argue about the presumed killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which was out of topic. The UK spoke and told them to “stick to the agenda at hand”.19 Norms of language and conforming with the Security Council’s traditions thus matter a lot in understanding the decisions reached by the body, because these rules of conduct impact the legitimacy of one’s narrative. Language is also prominent within resolutions because of the fact that precedent is highly valued to produce agreement on resolutions on a particular issue. As Werner underlines, the United Nations is a “set of interconnected linguistic practices with self-references as well as references across different fields and actors”.20 The repetition reflects the idea of an unavoidable change, and within the Security Council is used as a good practice. Indeed, introducing a certain kind of language on a new issue can be contentious, and once it is agreed upon, council members tend to re-use it to facilitate the negotiation process, and thus the decision-reaching on resolutions. However, in the case of Syria, it has rather undermined the possibility of consensus-making in 2011. Indeed, after the outburst of the crisis following the alleged use of chemical weapons to attack civilians, the UK drafted a resolution

Security Council Report (2018b), January 2018 Monthly Forecast: Syria. United Nations Security Council (2017), Resolution 2393. 18 Gifkins, J. (2012), “The UN Security Council Divided: Syria In Crisis”, Global Responsibility to Protect, 4(3), pp.377-393. 19 United Nations Security Council (2018), 8373rd Meeting – The situation in the Middle East, S/PV.8373. 20 Werner, W. (2017), “Recall it again, Sam. Practices of Repetition in the Security Council”, Nordic Journal of International Law, 86, pp.151-169. 16 17


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calling for sanctions on the Syrian government. This resolution used previous language from resolutions 1970 and 1973, adopted unanimously in 2011, concerning the case of Libya. Both resolutions called for a regime change to be implemented. Nevertheless, as the situation in Libya postimplementation of the resolution worsened, the resolutions were said to have had a negative impact on the Libyan crisis. The language repeated in the draft of the resolution in 2011 underlined P3’s desire for a regime change, which other members did not support. 21 The use of precedent, normally valued as good practice within the Security Council, was in this case considered a threat and was used by Russia and China to cast their veto; this prevented action from being taken on the situation in Syria efficiently. Language again shows that the dynamics of power can change according to the interpretation it is given by other council members, and that it can change a decision over the implementation of a resolution completely. The production of indifference within the Security Council The Security Council is composed of an administrative framework which constitutes a bureaucracy. This complex composition creates a long process during information, negotiation and decision processes. On some issues, and particularly in the case of Syria, it can emphasise the production of indifference among council members, which are at distance from real events; the efficiency of the measures thus decreases, and sometimes can undermine the Security Council’s legitimacy in dealing with international peace and security conflicts. Barnett claims that the production of indifference in bureaucratic institutions can be partly understood by international relations theory, which argues that states’ interests are important in understanding the indifference for issues out of their interests. However, it is not the only factor explaining the members’ indifference.22 Practice theory helps us understand that the socialisation into the diplomatic culture of the Security Council, as well as the long process of the decision-making process, undermines the efficiency of the measures taken. The case of Syria is relevant in showing this indifference, which can sometimes be unconscious. In October 2018, a briefing was convened in order to establish the constitutional committee of Syria. The P3 and Egypt, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have argued for it to be established “as quickly as possible”, 23 whereas Russia and other

Ralph, J. and Gifkins, J. (2017), “The purpose of the United Nations Security Council practice: Contesting competence claims in the normative context created by the Responsibility to Protect”, European Journal of International Relations, 23(3), pp.630-653. 22 Barnett, M. N. (1997), “The UN Security Council, Indifference, and Genocide in Rwanda”, Cultural Anthropology, 12(4), pp.551-578. 23 What’s in Blue (2018), Syria: Briefing by the Special Envoy on Efforts to Establish a Constitutional Committee. 21


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countries have warned against “artificial deadlines”.24 The Syrian government not accepting the list of civil participants has delayed the possibility of the talks occurring. The Security Council is thus divided between the desire to implement quick measures and the desire to implement efficient measures which may take a long time to be established. The constitutional committee has still not been established, which makes it difficult to resolve the issue of Syria. By delaying the process of the establishment of the committee because of the difficulty to reach an agreement, it is also delaying the reaching of a decision concerning the situation. Another issue was the renewal of JIM, the Joint Investigative Mechanism. The vote on the resolution was delayed multiple times, from October 2017 to December 2017 because the Council members could not reach an agreement on the resolution.25 The resolution was ultimately vetoed by Russia. It shows that states’ interests can be important in the decision-making process, but also that the length of the process created a certain indifference among the members. This bureaucratisation of indifference influenced by the long negotiation process has prevented the Security Council from reaching agreement on the implementation of efficient measures on the Syrian issue. The theory of the bureaucratisation of indifference is underlined by Herzfeld’s theory of “religious theodicy”, which can be adapted in bureaucratic institutions according to Barnett, thus called “secular theodicy”. The principle of transcendence understood by Herzfeld is “the idea that a moral principle, or a deity, could transcend the specifics of time and place”. 26 In the context of the Security Council, it can be argued that members think a greater good can endure some evil. Some quid pro quo must therefore exist in order to create efficient measures to secure the highest number of persons possible. It is highlighted by examples of the situation in Syria. On 3 February 2012, a draft was put in blue by Morocco. This resolution was contentious because of several elements. Russia and China refused a military intervention in Syria. The political transition part was agreed upon, but the “details of the steps for the transition of power have been removed”; other elements have been removed from the draft at the demand of Russia and China, such as the part on bilateral sanctions. 27 The continuing compromises on language on this resolution have undermined the efficiency of measures taken, since only non-binding elements were included in this draft. Eventually, Russia and China ended up casting their veto on the draft. Again, their states’ interests dictated the decisionmaking, but the practices existing throughout the negotiation process undermined the implementation Ibid. Security Council Report (2018c), January 2018 Monthly Forecast – In Hindsight: The Demise of the JIM. 26 Herzfeld, M. (1993), The Social Production of Indifference: Exploring the Symbolic Roots of Western Bureaucracy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 27 What’s in Blue (2012), Syria Draft Resolution in Blue. 24 25


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of measures that could have helped the Syrian population and put an end to Al-Assad’s regime. Something to consider here is that the Security Council’s incapacity to reach meaningful decisions on an important issue like the Syrian crisis can strongly undermine their legitimacy as a body whose primary responsibility is to “maintain international peace and security”. 28 Conclusion In a few words, it has been analysed that practices within the Security Council impact strongly on the negotiation process, the consensus-making and, ultimately, the decision-making. The dynamics of power are influenced in favour of the five permanent members, and particularly France, the UK and the US, also known as the P3. Penholding gives the opportunity of setting the terms of the debate and gives little room of manoeuvre to the E10, because the practice is dominated by the P5. Who gets to speak is also fixed by practices which create dynamics of power; the latter impacts the narratives on issues, such as the one on the Syrian crisis, and thus the decision reached is altered by the power of the most influential states within the Security Council. Language is ruled by norms which define the legitimacy of members of the council; breaching those norms can impact the importance given to a narrative and thus to the diplomatic settlements. Finally, the bureaucratic framework of the UN Security Council allows for the creation of a certain indifference from the states, which are at distance from the real situation in Syria. This indifference influences the decision-making process, where these decisions are sometimes not as efficient as they should be. Thus, concerning the case of Syria, practice theory has shown to be important in understanding the ‘how’ of the decisionmaking. Even though international relations theories can be useful in studying the outcomes of decisions, they fail to provide a full understanding of the Security Council, which is not ruled by states but rather by individuals. States are not ‘exogenous’, and the dynamics of power within the council prevent these theories from predicting states’ behaviour. Practices are not included in the view of such theories, which prove to impact strongly the reaching of agreement upon decisions to be implemented, particularly in the case of Syria. However, it can be argued that more generally, practice theory is difficult to generalise. By focusing on everyday practices on one particular case, this theory has found difficulties in adapting the findings of one case to another, because they might differ in context. Nonetheless, even though interests of the states are important within the dynamics of the Security Council, the socialisation into the practices of the latter is more important in impacting the decision-making process.

28

United Nations Security Council (2019), What is the Security Council?.


Jaccod, Do practices matter? The impact of practices on the Security Council’s decision-making in the case of Syria 72 References Adler-Nissen, R. (2016), “Towards a Practice Turn in EU Studies: The Everyday of European Integration”, Journal of Common Market Studies, 54(1), pp.87-103. Barnett, M. N. (1997), “The UN Security Council, Indifference, and Genocide in Rwanda”, Cultural Anthropology, 12(4), pp.551-578. DeYoung, K. and Demirjian, K. (2019), “Contradicting Trump, Bolton says no withdrawal from Syria until ISIS destroyed, Kurds’ safety guaranteed”, The Washington Post, 6 January. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/bolton-promises-no-troopwithdrawal-from-syria-until-isis-contained-kurds-safety-guaranteed/2019/01/06/ee219bba11c5-11e9-b6ad-9cfd62dbb0a8_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7b65738f52a6, (Accessed: 6 January 2019). Foucault, M. (1971), “The Discourse on Language”, Social Science Information, April, pp.7-30. Gibbings, S. L. (2011), “No Angry Women at the United Nations: Political Dreams and the Cultural Politics of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325”, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 13(4), pp.522-538. Gifkins, J. (2012), “The UN Security Council divided: Syria in Crisis”, Global Responsibility to Protect, 4, pp.377-393. Herzfeld, M. (1993), The Social Production of Indifference: Exploring the Symbolic Roots of Western Bureaucracy, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ralph, J. and Gifkins, J. (2017), “The purpose of the United Nations Security Council practice: Contesting competence claims in the normative context created by the Responsibility to Protect”, European Journal of International Relations, 23(3), pp.630-653. Schia, N. N. (2017), “Horseshoe and Catwalk: Power, Complexity, and Consensus-Making in the United Nations Security Council”, in R. Niezen and M. Sapignoli (eds.), (2017), Palaces of Hope: The Anthropology of Global Organizations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Security Council Report (2016), April 2016 Monthly Forecast: Syria. Available at: https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/monthly-forecast/2016-04/syria_30.php, (Accessed: 29 June 2019). Security Council Report (2018a), April 2018 Monthly Forecast: Syria. Available at: https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/monthly-forecast/2018-04/syria_53.php, (Accessed: 29 June 2019). Security Council Report (2018b), January 2018 Monthly Forecast: Syria. Available at: https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/monthly-forecast/2018-01/syria_50.php, (Accessed: 29 June 2019). Security Council Report (2018c), January 2018 Monthly Forecast – In Hindsight: The Demise of the JIM. Available at: https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/monthly-forecast/201801/in_hindsight_the_demise_of_the_jim.php, (Accessed: 29 June 2019). Security Council Report (2018d), Monthly Forecast February 2018. Available at: http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/2018_02_forecast.pdf., (Accessed: 29 June 2019).


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Security Council Report (2018e), November 2018 Monthly Forecast: Syria. Available at: https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/monthly-forecast/2018-11/syria_59.php, (Accessed: 29 June 2019). United Nations Security Council (2017), Resolution 2393. Available at: https://undocs.org/S/RES/2393, (Accessed: 29 June 2019). United Nations Security Council (2018), 8373rd Meeting – The situation in the Middle East, S/PV.8373. Available at: http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_pv_8373.pdf, (Accessed: 29 June 2019). United Nations Security Council (2019), What is the Security Council?. Available at: https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/what-security-council, (Accessed: 6 January 2019). Werner, W. (2017) “Recall it again, Sam. Practices of Repetition in the Security Council”, Nordic Journal of International Law, 86, pp.151-169. What’s in Blue (2012), Syria Draft Resolution in Blue. Available at: https://www.whatsinblue.org/2012/02/syria-draft-resolution-in-blue.php, (Accessed: 29 June 2019). What’s in Blue (2013), Syria Draft Resolution. Available at: https://www.whatsinblue.org/2013/08/syria-draft-resolution.php, (Accessed: 29 June 2019). What’s in Blue (2016), Special Envoy to brief on Intra-Syrian Talks. Available at: https://www.whatsinblue.org/2016/03/special-envoy-to-brief-on-intra-syrian-talks.php, (Accessed: 29 June 2019). What’s in Blue (2017), Syria Humanitarian Briefing. Available at: https://www.whatsinblue.org/2017/11/syria-humanitarian-briefing-5.php, (Accessed: 29 June 2019). What’s in Blue (2018), Syria: Briefing by the Special Envoy on Efforts to Establish a Constitutional Committee. Available at: https://www.whatsinblue.org/2018/10/syria-briefing-by-the-special-envoy-onefforts-to-establish-a-constitutional-committee.php, (Accessed: 29 June 2019).


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Corruption as One of the Most Powerful Myths About Africa, and How It Is Resisted

Edward Hacking, 3rd Year Essay BA(Hons) Politics, Philosophy and Economics

Abstract: There is a widespread view, perpetuated through Western media, that the African continent is inherently and especially corrupt. I argue that this view fails to appreciate lingering issues rooted in Africa’s colonial past. Nigeria is used as a primary case study as it is often perceived to be one of the most corrupt countries in Africa, however studying its history shows prevailing elitist power structures that were established under colonial rule. Western interests are further being prioritised due to these embedded elitist power structures. A glaring example is AngloDutch oil corporation Shell taking advantage of this broken system which can even be seen exhibiting colonialstyle tactics. Finally, this work uses secondary case studies in Sierra Leone and Ghana to demonstrate that the protection of Western interests in Africa are not specific to the case in Nigeria.

Introduction Myths and misrepresentations of the African continent are the result of the distorted coverage of African issues across Western media creating warped perceptions in the public eye. For example, former US President Barack Obama has stated Africa must stop blaming its history for economic deprivation.1 This essay will counter the myth that Obama argues for, specifically, that colonialism and colonial pasts no longer cause the continent problems. I will argue that entrenched colonial power structures still exist and are exploited by Western corporations and institutions which result in a new form of colonialism or ‘neo-colonialism’ operating. These institutions can be seen to deploy modern versions of colonial-style strategies in order pursue their interests. The entrenched power structures are also responsible for extensive systematic abuses of power in Africa. This essay will therefore also debunk the myth that widespread corruption is an inherent African characteristic, instead of a product of its colonial past.

1

Shearlaw, M. (2014), “‘Africa should stop blaming history for its economic problems’ – is Obama right?”, The Guardian.


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As far as resistance goes, these myths have been shown to have huge flaws when reviewing academic literature of authors such as Ekeh and Osoba. These readings, although written in 1975 and 1996 respectively, are still relevant today and will be until the myths are eradicated in Western consciousness. Furthermore, researching the development of postcolonial nations and the contemporary actions of Western institutions allows us to see the inaccuracies of these myths. Nonacademic resistance to colonialism and corruption is present, although due to the intrinsic nature of the issues has so far failed to enact meaningful change. The structure of my essay will be as follows. First, I will suggest that the myths of corruption and colonialism being irrelevant are maintained by a distorted narrative that is preserved through Western media. I discuss the demand of the Western audience for media outlets to pursue escapist functions as well as inaccurate settings used by directors. Second, I will look into the context of corruption in postcolonial nations using academic resistance to debunk the myth that corruption is particularly intrinsic to Africans. I will use the explanation of Ekeh’s Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement,2 in order to demonstrate that African corruption should be understood in its historical context. Third, I will look more specifically into egotistical ‘big time’ corruption as a product of colonial history (which cannot be explained via the ‘Two Publics’) with principal reference to Osoba’s Corruption in Nigeria: Historical Perspectives.3 I choose to focus on Nigerian corruption as it is often viewed as “part and parcel of the political culture”,4 and as a staple example of corruption for rest of the world. This is a sentiment encouraged by Western leaders such as David Cameron, who has previously described it as “fantastically corrupt”. 5 I conclude that Nigeria’s political past is clear evidence that the prevailing elitist system created in colonial times is the main cause of modern egotistical corruption. The fourth part will demonstrate how Western corporations are still benefitting from the corruption that colonial rule facilitated, specifically how Anglo-Dutch oil corporation Shell is exploiting Nigeria’s elitist political system by being involved in illicit practices and implementing colonial era tactics. The final part of this essay will briefly discuss how colonial legacies continually

Ekeh, P. (1975), “Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 17(1), pp.91-112. 3 Osoba, S. O. (1996), “Corruption in Nigeria: Historical Perspectives”, Review of African Political Economy, 23(69), pp.37138. 4 Ogundiya, I. S. (2010), “Corruption: The bane of democratic stability in Nigeria”, Current Research Journal of Social Sciences, 2(4), p.236. 5 BBC News (2016), PM calls countries ‘fantastically corrupt’. 2


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exploited by the West are in no way specific to the oil industry or Nigeria with two contrasting examples. The Warped Lens In countries such as Britain or the United States, perceptions of Africa are predominantly formed through films, documentaries and news coverage. These outlets often stick to a specific narrative of Africans, often just as heroes, villains or victims. Film examples include Beasts of No Nation, The Last King of Scotland and Machine Gun Preacher. These are just a few examples of Western films (with Western audiences) that can be seen to sustain the myth that many Africans have an inherently corrupt trait. The bulk of this essay is aimed at countering this narrative. The narrative in question cannot be completely attributed to film directors’ motives to create a warped public view of Africans. Instead, we must understand that this representation fulfils a desire that Western viewers have. This demand is created by the identity relation of ‘Self vs Other’, a way in which individuals, groups or society as a whole choose to understand other individuals as distinctly and inherently different to themselves. Developed countries have fulfilled this demand with the use of the African as ‘The Other’ which resulted in Africa being used as a “backdrop for a white man’s odyssey”.6 This has meant that locations in countries such as Zimbabwe and Rwanda are almost exclusively linked to Western films that address corruption, genocide and violence, a distinctly narrow set of themes that creates a augmented version of Africa in the minds of those living in Britain or America who cannot compare it to their daily lives. This is a clear continuation of the historical description of Africa as the ‘dark continent’ and has allowed the film industry to meet escapist requirements that their audience want. Through repetitive play and an established demand for these films, this representation of Africa will take a long time to be eradicated.7 It is the single-story narrative that creates misrepresentations of the continent and has an overall degrading effect on Africa’s representation to the world as a homogenous unit. Myths prolonged by the exaggeration of African problems in the film industry are further embedded through problematic news coverage of the continent. These issues may be due to a lack of both political transparency and communication infrastructure in developing countries, however part of the blame also lies with the Western media. This is because the desire to treat Africans as ‘The

6 7

Campbell, D. and Power, M. (2010), “The Scopic Regime of Africa”, Observant states: Geopolitics and visual culture, p.25. Boskin, J. (1980), “Denials: The Media View of Dark Skins and the City”, Small Voices and Great Trumpets, p.141.


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Other’ in films is also evident in the demand of news reports from Africa. The public in Western countries are far more attracted to extreme reports and alternative political landscapes which leads to “meaningful development stories in Africa” being considered as “mundane and unattractive”. 8 As a result, media companies shape the public’s view of Africa by prioritising more captivating stories involving violence and corruption, entrenching falsities already advocated by films. The lack of meaningful understanding of African life means huge power resides in the hands of film directors and media bosses. This framing ability leads to significant control over our view of Africans and events in African history. A distinct example can be seen in a film called The Gods must be Crazy (1980), which portrays a degrading image of members of the Khosian tribe, suggesting their backwards nature is to blame for their misfortune. This narrative left out the events of previous centuries which involved the tribe being pushed almost to extinction by colonisation processes. It is this lack of acknowledgement of colonial pasts which this essay wishes to illustrate. I will now look at general corruption as a result of colonial experiences before looking at more specific contemporary examples. Understanding Corruption In order to comprehend the issue of African corruption, I argue we must use a wide scope similar to that of Olivier de Sardan’s “corruption complex”.9 This includes an extensive number of illicit practices across society, whether it is large-scale embezzlement by a top-flight politician or a policeman accepting petty bribes. This is because almost all postcolonial African nations have seen corruption across all sectors which has led to the most vulnerable in society being the most adversely affected. To argue that this is because of an embedded culture that is intrinsically African inappropriately blames the victims of corruption for the practices that “plague[s] their society”. 10 Instead, we must understand the issue in the historical context which African nations share, namely colonialism. It additionally must be comprehended as an expansionist process that has spread from the top down, that has produced this “corruption culture”,11 not as a result of an ingrained immoral African culture. Effectively without acknowledgment of the sociological roots of corruption as a Wa’Njogu, J. (2009), “Representations of Africa in the Western Media: Challenges and Opportunities”, in K. Njogu and J. Middleton (eds.), (2009), Media and Identity in Africa, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, p.78. 9 Olivier de Sardan, J. P. (1999), “A Moral Economy of Corruption in Africa?”, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 37(1), p.27. 10 Smith, D. (2007), In A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria, Princeton: Princeton University Press, p.6. 11 Olivier de Sardan, J. P. (1999), “A Moral Economy of Corruption in Africa?”, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 37(1), p.32. 8


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characteristic of society, within the minds of Western populations a distinctly harmful ‘Other’ is created that falsely represents Africans with detrimental effects. We are unable to apply the strict European corruption definition to Africa, “the betrayal of public for individual or group gain”,12 because “the division between the public and the private in Africa is different to that ascribed to the ideal form of the legal rational state”. 13 This is due to the existence of two publics, an issue identified by Peter Ekeh (1975). Essentially, this established that experiences during colonialism created one public in which individuals act in favour of primordial groups (ethnic and tribal loyalties) and another where individuals act on behalf of a nation’s civil society, known as the civic public (e.g. national police force).14 In contrast to the West, most individuals of postcolonial states are simultaneously citizens of both publics within the same society. This creates blurred lines as activities such as granting political favours to members of your own tribe could be considered corrupt in the civic public eye and justifiable in the primordial public eye. This grey area of corruption has foundations in British colonial rule, where divide and rule tactics involved promoting a primordial leader to a position of power to maintain control over the colonised people. These traditional leaders often served as a bridge between the civic and primordial public.15 In addition, African nations and borders, having been created by colonial powers, had no significant meaning to the colonised. As a result, individuals in these states have little or no loyalty to those who shared a nation but not an ethnicity. Ekeh expands on this phenomenon – “everyone recognises that the notion of “being a Nigerian” is a new kind of conception”, 16 therefore it was arguably justifiable that individuals prioritised the interests of those from the same ethnicity. This has trickled down to postcolonial leaders having similar roles but with greater power after independence. Essentially, former patrimonial leaders under colonialism became neopatrimonial leaders who transformed their monopolistic political power into providing opportunities for those close to them. 17 This has resulted in tribal dictatorships in which leaders appoint ministers from their own ethnicity, creating a divided nation, stunting effective democracy and going against ideas of “African Unity”.18

Dobel, J. (1978), “The Corruption of a State”, The American Political Science Review, 72(3), p.958. Routley, L. (2016), Negotiating Corruption, London: Routledge, p.23. 14 Ekeh, P. (1975), “Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 17(1), pp.91-11. 15 Adebanwi, W. (2016), “Africa’s ‘Two Publics’: Colonialism and Governmentality”, Theory, Culture & Society, 34(4), p.71. 16 Ekeh, P. (1975), “Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 17(1), p.105. 17 Bach, D. C. (2011), “Patrimonialism and neopatrimonialism: comparative trajectories and readings”, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 49(3), p.276. 18 Fanon, F. (2001), The Wretched of the Earth, London: Penguin, p.147. 12 13


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This leads to detrimental effects on the continent such as political violence and economic repression.19 It is these surface effects that are exposed to the West through news reports and films and preserve the notion that African corruption is inherently embedded in the culture. This lack of acknowledgement to the colonial-era origins of African corruption entrenches the myth that the population have a dishonest nature exacerbating the view of Africans as ‘Others’. So far, the idea of the ‘two publics’ has arguably failed to explain some of the practices involved in the African ‘corruption complex’. Loyalties to ethnic groups cannot justify large scale corruptions that only benefit the individual, for example the embezzlement of public funds purely for personal wealth. It is this egotistical corruption I would like to tackle through academic literature and the Nigerian case study. Nigeria: A Historical Case Study Nigeria’s Corruption Perception Index ranking currently stands at 148/180.20 It is arguably hard to measure the extent of a nation’s corruption due to its very nature, but with 20 sub-Saharan countries also ranked in the bottom 40, 21 it at least shows us that African nations are perceived as distinctly corrupt compared to the rest of the world. African corruption is therefore not an issue specific to Nigeria, neither is it an issue specific to nations who, like Nigeria, adopted a state capitalist approach after independence. In fact, differences in post-independence ideologies or government systems have had little impact on the levels of corruption in a nation. 22 Therefore, to understand the ‘corruption complex’ we must look at the shared history of African nations, namely colonialism, instead of attributing it to issues such as the capitalist ideology. To understand the colonial roots of egotistical corruption, we must look at countries’ backgrounds from colonial times to the present day. Starting with colonial times in Nigeria, British rule implemented a system in which cultural leaders would have the responsibility to collect taxes from natives. In order to gain the allegiance of these cultural leaders, the British colonials encouraged them to abuse this position. They therefore became agents of colonialism and profited privately instead

Bach, D. C. (2011), “Patrimonialism and neopatrimonialism: comparative trajectories and readings”, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 49(3), p.276. 20 Transparency International (2018), Corruption Perceptions Index 2017. 21 Ibid. 22 Olivier de Sardan, J. P. (1999), “A Moral Economy of Corruption in Africa?”, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 37(1), p.34. 19


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of falling victim to their oppressors.23 This African chief model was maintained after decolonisation and is the foundation for modern egotistical corruption. In fact, there is evidence of abuses of power by the Nigerian political elite even before independence. In 1965, the Premier of Eastern Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe or “Zik”, was found to have transferred large amounts of government money directly into the ACB, a corporation controlled by Zik.24 Corruption therefore acted like a “social virus derived from British colonial rule”,25 spreading from the top down (as previously stated), and this early Nigerian example can be viewed as embryonic of the present-day practices. During the decolonisation process, colonisers were unsurprisingly reluctant to devolve powers as it was in their interest to maintain the upper hand. They therefore employed tactics of ‘neocolonialism’; using intermediary domestic leaders to grant the wishes of the Western bourgeoisie. 26 They positioned the Nigerian bourgeoisie as subordinate partners in the decolonisation process in order to preserve their control over the national economy.27 In post-colonial Nigeria, the members of this indigenous ruling class took roles as politicians, civic leaders and heads of public companies, allowing them to keep the wealth controlled in the hands of the elite minority. As a result, the principle method of accumulating capital for the Nigerian bourgeoisie was through corrupt practices. Throughout the coming years, the kleptocracy in Nigeria continued to prevail. Huge cash sums became available via the petroleum boom leading to large-scale embezzlement by the political elite – the trend of the Nigerian bourgeoisie profiting from the oil industry has continued ever since. Despite successful political campaigns on platforms of anti-corruption and military led coup d’états to remove elitist government structures, the kleptocracy failed to be brought down. This is fundamentally due to the fact that the institutions set up to break down these bourgeois power structures were “manned, controlled and operated” by those who had a stake in prolonging these very practices. One example was the defeat of the General Yakubu Gowon regime (1966-75) in which General Murtala waged an aggressive war on corruption, which eventually lead to Gowon’s deposition.28 After becoming head of state, Murtala gained considerable wealth himself and allowed

Mulinge, M. and Lesetedi, G. (1998), “Interrogating Our Past: Colonialism and Corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa”, African Journal of Political Science, 3(2), p.19. 24 Tignor, R. (1993), “Political Corruption in Nigeria Before Independence”, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 31(2), p.191. 25 Osoba, S. O. (1996), “Corruption in Nigeria: Historical Perspectives”, Review of African Political Economy, 23(69), p.372. 26 Fanon, F. (2001), The Wretched of the Earth, London: Penguin, p.124. 27 Osoba, S. O. (1996), “Corruption in Nigeria: Historical Perspectives”, Review of African Political Economy, 23(69), p.373. 28 Ibid., p.385. 23


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dismissed corrupt officials to retire to multi-millionaire farms.29 This is a typical example of the prevailing state of affairs of the elitist system in Nigeria. Subsequent governments such as the Babangida regime (1985-93) would prolong the ‘corruption complex’ by using it as a legitimate mode of governance. Corrupt officials could proceed without fear of detection or punishment, and so gained large wealth with little regard for the law. 30 Moreover, this regime increased the centralisation of power within Nigeria’s already elitist system. In 1988, the central bank of Nigeria was transferred to the President’s office, which resulted in the printing of vast amounts of cash and leading the money supply to jump from N11.8 billion to N100.5 billion.31 This, again, was in no way specific to Nigeria as many post-colonial African nations adopted the idea of the state as an ‘entrepreneur’, which lead to centralised economic decision making,32 resulting in an increase in corrupt practices. Nigerian history teaches us that the African chief model constructed by colonial powers across the continent has instilled a system in which members of the elite are able to maintain rigid power structures in order to keep wealth shared among the bourgeoisie. The embezzlement of government money by individuals clearly means public funds are being diverted away from the needs of citizens. Therefore, public departments such as law enforcement, healthcare and the judiciary fail to adequately serve the Nigerian population.33 This keeps the masses in poverty and degrading living conditions as perpetual victims of institutionalised corruption. Modern Nigeria continues as a corrupt elitist society with Presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar recently declaring that Nigeria was more corrupt today than ever before. 34 Whether this opposition, if appointed to government, would in fact overhaul the current system is another matter entirely. Modern Colonial Tactics In this section I will argue that the prolonged existence of colonial power structures still serves the interests of Western corporations through the global economy. The West’s desire to have control Ibid., p.379. Oko, O. (2002), “Subverting the scourge of corruption in Nigeria: reform prospectus”, New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, 34(2), p.437. 31 Osoba, S. O. (1996), “Corruption in Nigeria: Historical Perspectives”, Review of African Political Economy, 23(69), p.383. 32 Mulinge, M. and Lesetedi, G. (1998), “Interrogating Our Past: Colonialism and Corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa”, African Journal of Political Science, 3(2), p.25. 33 Osoba, S. O. (1996), “Corruption in Nigeria: Historical Perspectives”, Review of African Political Economy, 23(69), p.384. 34 Ewubare, K. (2018), “Nigeria is more corrupt today than ever before - Atiku insists”. 29 30


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over African economies after decolonisation is still evident today with Western companies often being involved in illicit operations in order to gain control over natural resources. These companies are able to operate in this way by exploiting the lack of political accountability that exists within the African political elite. In Nigeria, this inevitably involves the oil industry as the export of petroleum and other oils made up 96% of total exports in 2017, totalling US $39.1 billion. 35 This has led to about 80% of Nigeria’s oil and natural gas revenues being shared by one percent of the country’s population.36 A notable region of Western exploitation of Nigeria’s most prominent natural asset is the Niger Delta territory. The Niger Delta is an oil rich land on the southern coast of Nigeria. For many years, private companies such as Shell have enjoyed the wealth that the region supplies. This robs indigenous people of a wealth they arguably have a claim to. Western oil company operations have further caused pollutants that have resulted in acid rain, crops and wildlife being destroyed, as well as harmful gases causing serious health issues.37 These pollutants have disturbed local fishing and farming industries on which the local community had previously relied, therefore creating high volumes of unemployment. The lack of political accountability that exists in Nigerian elitist structures means there are little or no remedial policies generated to resolve these issues. Instead, there has been a severe lack of local development into areas such as infrastructure, education and healthcare, 38 despite the region producing large sums of cash for the privileged class and companies like Shell. Many have called the actions of oil corporations and political institutions infringements on human rights due to the deprived living standards and illnesses caused.39 This lack of regard that companies have for indigenous persons echoes the characteristics of a time of suppressive colonial rule, the legacies of which prevent justice for the people of the Niger Delta. Members of the entrenched political elite such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo (a General in the corruption-riddled Murtala-Obasanjo regime) have even used military force to “silence dissenting voices in the Niger Delta”.40 These lingering power structures can

Workman, D. (2018), “Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports”, World's Top Exports. Afiekhena, J. (2005), “Managing Oil Rent for Sustainable Development and Poverty Re-duction in Africa”, Paper Presented at the UNU-WIDER Jubilee Conference on Thinking Ahead: The Future of Development Economics, Helsinki, p.15. 37 Egiegba Agbiboa, D. (2013), “Have we heard the last? Oil, environmental insecurity, and the impact of the amnesty programme on the Niger Delta resistance movement”, Review of African Political Economy, 40(137), p.451. 38 See Mercy, D. et al. (2017), “International advocacy NGOs, counter accounting, accountability and engagement”, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 30(6), p.1322. 39 Amnesty International (2017), A Criminal Enterprise? Shell’s Involvement in Human Rights Violations in Nigeria in the 1990s. 40 Egiegba Agbiboa, D. (2013), “Have we heard the last? Oil, environmental insecurity, and the impact of the amnesty programme on the Niger Delta resistance movement”, Review of African Political Economy, 40(137), p.455. 35 36


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therefore directly be seen to facilitate the accumulation of wealth for Western corporations and sustain the structure of the political elite in Nigeria. The consequences of Shell’s actions, and others like it, have led to the rise of militia groups that have resorted to violent methods, such as kidnapping corporation employees, in order to protest against the tyrannical operations.41 Such groups include MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) and MOSOP (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People) who have previously described Shell’s action as ecological warfare and accused the Federal government of genocide. 42 Maybe most concerning is that Shell has been involved in the funding of rival militant groups in the region in order to maintain control over the oil market. 43 This almost directly parallels colonial tactics where political leaders were seen to groom independence movements to drive a wedge between freedom fighters.44 Peace treaties for the rehabilitation of militant groups have attempted to prevent the spread of violence; however, they have done little to directly combat the root causes of civil unrest in the region, namely unemployment.45 As a result justice has not been attained for the people of the Niger Delta. However, Shell’s corrupt activities have recently come under judicial review. Investigations regarding lucrative money transfers between Shell and Nigerian public companies for oil blocks have proved that the funds appeared in former Oil Minister Dan Etete’s government company accounts. 46 In September 2018, two men were convicted for being mediators in the corrupt transactions and sentenced to four years in jail.47 Even more recently in December 2018, the Italian judge Giusy Barbara in charge of the case revealed that Shell “were fully aware” of funds being “used to compensate Nigerian public officials”. Although Shell denies any wrongdoing,48 the evidence is mounting, and their upcoming court case may prove to be the most effective form of resistance against the corrupt operations of multinational corporations to date.

Udoh, I. (2013), “A Qualitative Review of the Militancy, Amnesty, and Peacebuilding in Nigeria’s Niger Delta”, Peace Research, 45(2), p.67. 42 Mercy, D. et al. (2017), “International advocacy NGOs, counter accounting, accountability and engagement”, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 30(6), p.1318. 43 Smith, D. (2011), “Shell accused of fueling violence in Nigeria by paying rival militant gangs”, The Guardian. 44 Mulinge, M. and Lesetedi, G. (1998), “Interrogating Our Past: Colonialism and Corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa”, African Journal of Political Science, 3(2), p.21. 45 Udoh, I. (2013), “A Qualitative Review of the Militancy, Amnesty, and Peacebuilding in Nigeria’s Niger Delta”, Peace Research, 45(2), p.84. 46 Vaughan, A. (2018), “Oil deal corruption trial in Italy is ‘wake-up call for industry’”, The Guardian. 47 Parodi, E. (2018), “Eni, Shell knew of 'sharks' in Nigeria graft case – judge”. 48 Gilblom, K. (2018), “Shell, Eni Face $1.1 Billion Nigerian Lawsuit Over 2011 Deal”, Bloomberg. 41


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Shell is a clear example of Western organisations benefitting from the power structures entrenched in colonial times, but also worryingly utilises similar tactics to those of colonial powers (with little regard to the welfare of the Nigerian majority). Despite Shell’s links to corruption and funding of violence in the Niger Delta there have been no sanctions imposed by industrialised nations,49 potentially depicting an image that powerful Western actors are still indirectly benefitting from such characteristically colonial practices. Further Case Studies In this next section I will briefly identify other cases in Africa that show unequal power structures resulting in colonial style tactics from institutions in the West. One notable case study is British firms exploiting the situation in Sierra Leone during the aftermath of their civil war. The RUF-SL (Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone) assembled to form a ‘people’s army’ made up of the “socially excluded youth underclass”,50 but eventually failed to overthrow the corrupt regime. After the war, a devastated nation was left with large quantities of excombatants with no occupation and therefore huge unemployment. British security companies took advantage of this and hired Sierra Leoneans as cheap labour for the war in the Middle East. These firms used their financial positioning to exploit ex-combatants that had no other opportunities for employment in Sierra Leone. The coercion of Africans was evident as many were visibly crying and distressed during pre-deployment training when asked to pick up guns.51 The most concerning of accounts recalled a pre-deployment training instructor shouting “Who are we colonised by” and followed with “By the British!”.52 Ultimately, coercing citizens to fight for European wars with little regard to their well-being has striking similarities to the First World War where many British African troops were deployed in the Middle East to fight on the behalf of the colonies. 53 These practices worryingly internalise the degrading idea of the African population as the ‘Other’ as it is not just a perception for British audiences but an isolator tool that agents with power are able to and do use against them.

Douglas, O. et al. (2004), “Oil and militancy in the Niger Delta: Terrorist threat or another Colombia”, Niger Delta Economies of Violence Working Paper, 4, p.8. 50 Peters, K. and Richards, P. (1998), “‘Why We Fight’: Voices of Youth Combatants in Sierra Leone”, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, 68(2), p.184. 51 Christensen, M. (2016), “The underbelly of global security: Sierra Leonean ex-militias in Iraq”, African Affairs, 115(458), p.36. 52 Ibid., p.35. 53 Koller, C. (2008), “The Recruitment of Colonial Troops in Africa and Asia and their Deployment in Europe during the First World War”, Immigrants & Minorities, 26(1-2), p.114. 49


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Western institutions have not just relied on corrupt or violent political regimes to exploit African nations, they have also taken advantage of economic inequalities that exist across the postcolonial world. These lingering inequalities have resulted in the IMF forcing Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) on many African nations in response to large debts being racked up after a lending binge by Western commercial banks in the 1970s.54 The former President of Burkina Faso, Sankara, shortly before his assassination, accurately described the foreign debt as “a wellorganised tool of colonial re-conquest”.55 SAPs were enforced in other nations such as Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire, and even Ghana, who were previously thought of as a ‘star pupil’ of the IMF. 56 Despite this favourable position, Ghana were still victim to the dominance of the Western institution. The SAPs pushed for privatisation across the Ghanaian economy, a principle policy of the Western capitalist ideology. This included areas such as the water industry which caused distribution issues and prevented many from accessing clean water, arguably taking away a basic human right. 57 This is yet another alarming example of the West asserting their economic dominance on an African nation with little regard for the welfare of the population. Conclusion In summation, ignorance to the root causes of African corruption has led to the myth that corruption is a distinctly African trait. Corruption is just one characteristic that media, films and journalism have used to establish the African population as an ‘Other’ to the world, particularly European civilisations, with harmful outcomes that inevitably occur from the ill-perceptions of the audience. The myth itself is resisted by identifying elitist structures and systematic abuses of power that were implemented in colonial times and maintained through neo-colonialism. Additionally, I have demonstrated that these colonial legacies have created a political landscape that continues to serve Western interests, not directly to states, but corporations as effectively a more nuanced privateinterest form of neo-colonialism. Further concern is that companies and institutions, such as Shell, British security firms and the IMF, have effectively used colonial-style tactics such as divide and rule, coercion and command over African domestic economic policy to pursue their own interests. Systematic corruption and neo-colonial tactics used by corporations and corrupt governments work together to form an unyielding hierarchy over the African population. This results in grassroots Ismi, A. (2004), Impoverishing the continent: the world bank and IMF in Africa, Ottowa: The Halifax Initiative Coalition, p.8. Ibid., p.21. 56 Amponsah, N. (2000), “Ghana’s Mixed Structural Adjustment Results: Explaining the Poor Private Sector Response”, Africa Today, 47(2), p.11. 57 Agyeman, K. (2007), “Privatization of water in Ghana: stopped in its tracks or a strategic pause?”, International Journal of Environmental Studies, 64(5), p.530. 54 55


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resistance movements such as MEND or MOSOP have little chance of obtaining justice for their cause. Although non-grass roots resistance such as through political or military channels has been successful in rising to power, they have regularly failed to enact meaningful structural change in countries such as Nigeria. However, there is a final remaining hope in the international judicial system to hold firms such as Shell to account. Obosa logically concludes: “As long as the inequitable structures of a dependent neo-colonial state are allowed to reproduce in every generation a rampaging bourgeoisie of army officers, politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, academics … measures for combating corruption […] [will] fail to make any significant impact”.58 This essay has ultimately argued that African corruption, which stems from colonial roots, has been seen to facilitate colonial characteristics in a postcolonial world. The myths that colonialism is over and corruption is inherently African serve an injustice to the continent. Western leaders that encourage these myths such as Obama and Cameron either fail to appreciate the embedded colonial legacies or their refusal to publicly acknowledge them is politically motivated; either way, they perpetuate the discernment of Africans as inherently different. References Adebanwi, W. (2016), “Africa’s ‘Two Publics’: Colonialism and Governmentality”, Theory, Culture & Society, 34(4), pp.65-87. Afiekhena, J. (2005), “Managing Oil Rent for Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction in Africa”, Paper Presented at the UNU-WIDER Jubilee Conference on Thinking Ahead: The Future of Development Economics, Helsinki. Agyeman, K. (2007), “Privatization of water in Ghana: stopped in its tracks or a strategic pause?”, International Journal of Environmental Studies, 64(5), pp.525-536. Amnesty International (2017), A Criminal Enterprise? Shell’s Involvement in Human Rights Violations in Nigeria in the 1990s. Available at: https://www.amnesty.ch/de/themen/wirtschaft-undmenschenrechte/fallbeispiele/nigeria/dok/2017/shell-ein-kriminellesunternehmen/rapport_shell_a_criminal_enterprise.pdf, (Accessed: 28 December 2018). Amponsah, N. (2000), “Ghana’s Mixed Structural Adjustment Results: Explaining the Poor Private Sector Response”, Africa Today, 47(2), pp.9-32. Bach, D. C. (2011), “Patrimonialism and neopatrimonialism: comparative trajectories and readings”, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 49(3), pp.275-294.

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Osoba, S. O. (1996), “Corruption in Nigeria: Historical Perspectives”, Review of African Political Economy, 23(69), p.384.


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BBC News (2016), PM calls countries ‘fantastically corrupt’. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36260193, (Accessed: 21 December 2018). Boskin, J. (1980), “Denials: The Media View of Dark Skins and the City”, Small Voices and Great Trumpets, pp.141-147. Campbell, D. and Power, M. (2010), “The Scopic Regime of Africa”, Observant states: Geopolitics and visual culture. Christensen, M. (2016), “The underbelly of global security: Sierra Leonean ex-militias in Iraq”, African Affairs, 115(458), pp.23-43. Dobel, J. (1978), “The Corruption of a State”, The American Political Science Review, 72(3), pp.958-973. Douglas, O., Okonta, I., Kemedi, D.V. and Watts, M. (2004), “Oil and militancy in the Niger Delta: Terrorist threat or another Colombia”, Niger Delta Economies of Violence Working Paper, (4), pp.113. Ekeh, P. (1975), “Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 17(1), pp.91-112. Ewubare, K. (2018), Nigeria is more corrupt today than ever before - Atiku insists. Available at: https://www.legit.ng/1210269-atiku-abubakar-nigeria-corrupt-today-before.html, (Accessed: 21 December 2018). Egiegba Agbiboa, D. (2013), “Have we heard the last? Oil, environmental insecurity, and the impact of the amnesty programme on the Niger Delta resistance movement”, Review of African Political Economy, 40(137), pp.447-465. Fanon, F. (2001), The Wretched of the Earth, London: Penguin. Gilblom, K. (2018), “Shell, Eni Face $1.1 Billion Nigerian Lawsuit Over 2011 Deal”, Bloomberg. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-13/shell-eni-face-1-1billion-nigerian-lawsuit-over-2011-oil-deal, (Accessed: 1 January 2019). Ismi, A. (2004), Impoverishing the continent: the world bank and IMF in Africa, Ottowa: The Halifax Initiative Coalition. Koller, C. (2008), “The Recruitment of Colonial Troops in Africa and Asia and their Deployment in Europe during the First World War”, Immigrants & Minorities, 26(1-2), pp.111-133. Mercy, D., Thomson, I., and Akira, Y. (2017), “International advocacy NGOs, counter accounting, accountability and engagement”, Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 30(6), pp.13091343. Mulinge, M. and Lesetedi, G. (1998), “Interrogating Our Past: Colonialism and Corruption in SubSaharan Africa”, African Journal of Political Science, 3(2), pp.15-28. Ogundiya, I. S. (2010), “Corruption: The bane of democratic stability in Nigeria”, Current Research Journal of Social Sciences, 2(4), pp.233-241. Oko, O. (2002), “Subverting the scourge of corruption in Nigeria: reform prospectus”, New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, 34(2), pp.397-474. Olivier de Sardan, J. P. (1999), “A Moral Economy of Corruption in Africa?”, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 37(1), pp.25-52. Osoba, S. O. (1996), “Corruption in Nigeria: Historical Perspectives”, Review of African Political Economy, 23(69), pp.371-386.


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Parodi, E. (2018), “Eni, Shell knew of ‘sharks’ in Nigeria graft case – judge”, Reuters. Available at: https://af.reuters.com/article/nigeriaNews/idAFL8N1YM210, (Accessed: 28 December 2018). Peters, K., and Richards, P. (1998), “‘Why We Fight’: Voices of Youth Combatants in Sierra Leone”, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, 68(2), pp.183-210. Routley, L. (2016), Negotiating Corruption. London: Routledge. Shearlaw, M. (2014), “‘Africa should stop blaming history for its economic problems’ – is Obama Right?”, The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/30/-spobama-africa-colonial-excuses-poll, (Accessed: 28 December 2018). Smith, D. (2007), In A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Smith, D. (2011), “Shell accused of fueling violence in Nigeria by paying rival militant gangs”, The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/oct/03/shell-accused-offuelling-nigeria-conflict, (Accessed: 28 December 2018). Tignor, R. (1993), “Political Corruption in Nigeria Before Independence”, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 31(2), pp.175-202. Transparency International (2018), Corruption Perceptions Index 2017. Available at: https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2017, (Accessed: 21 December 2018). Udoh, I. (2013), “A Qualitative Review of the Militancy, Amnesty, and Peacebuilding in Nigeria’s Niger Delta”, Peace Research, 45(2), pp.63-93. Ukadike, N. (1990), “Western Film Images of Africa: Genealogy of an Ideological Formulation”, The Black Scholar, 21(2), pp.30-48. Vaughan, A. (2018), “Oil deal corruption trial in Italy is 'wake-up call for industry'”, The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/04/oil-deal-corruption-trial-initaly-is-wake-up-call-for-industry, (Accessed: 28 December 2018). Wa’Njogu, J. (2009), “Representations of Africa in the Western Media: Challenges and Opportunities”, in K. Njogu and J. Middleton (eds.), (2009), Media and Identity in Africa, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp.76-83. Workman, D. (2018), “Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports”, World’s Top Exports. Available at: http://www.worldstopexports.com/nigerias-top-10-exports/, (Accessed: 28 December 2018).


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Accumulation by Mythology: Conservationism and the Myth of the African Wilderness Keira Raftery, 3rd Year Essay BSocSc (Hons) Politics and International Relations

Abstract: This essay explores the colonial myths of the African wilderness, which delegitimise the presence of African people on African land and erase historic as well as continuing processes of dispossession. I outline the shift from traditional ‘Fortress Conservation’ National Park models towards community co-operation models that attempt to recognise sustainable African land practices, highlighting that the latter continue to limit African access to land; they perpetuate colonial myths that legitimise Western authority and standards for environmentalism. Attempts to assert local ownership of natural resources that fall outside of the National Park model are therefore criminalised, with this criminalisation ultimately reflecting the failure to recognise the mythologised African wilderness as a space of accumulation by dispossession. It is through recognising this and re-politicising conservation land that the marginalisation of environmental justice alternatives to Western conservationism can be challenged.

The South Africa National Parks (SANParks) website claims, over a photograph of tourists watching the sun set on the African wilderness, that the Kruger National Park offers the chance to experience the “real Africa”.1 This “real Africa”, one of an “unspoilt wilderness”,2 is the primary image of the continent that is marketed to the world, as Africa’s tourism industry revolves heavily around national parks established in protected areas, where conservation NGOs campaign to preserve the African wilderness. Conservation practices in African national parks embody and perpetuate multiple colonial myths about the continent, with Büscher describing the myth of a pre-modern, uninhabited wilderness as an act of “greenwashing”,3 which conceals the reality of a long history of land-use by

South Africa National Parks (2018), Kruger National Park. Büscher, B. (2010), “Derivative Nature: interrogating the value of conservation in ‘Boundless Southern Africa’”, Third World Quarterly, 31(2), p.260. 3 Büscher, B. et al. (2012), “Towards a Synthesized Critique of Neoliberal Biodiversity Conservation”, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, 23(2), p.17. 1 2


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local populations. This myth intersects with other myths about Africa to justify and conceal an inherently political project of enclosure. In this essay I will explore the colonial myths about Africa embedded in modern environmentalism and conservationism, which privilege Western forms of knowledge and drive a process of capitalist market expansion through accumulation and commodification. First, I will outline the colonial myth of an African wilderness that underpins authoritarian management of protected land under ‘fortress conservation’ models,4 in addition to myths about African criminality and poor natural resource management. I will then examine the paradigm shift towards community co-operation models that seek to address criticisms of ‘fortress’ conservationism, and demonstrate their continued perpetuation of colonial myths and the limitations in their extension of community ownership rights of natural resources. This essay focuses on conservation practices in Southern and Eastern Africa, with South Africa and Tanzania in particular serving as examples of both forms of conservationism. Ultimately, both forms of conservationism serve to perpetuate colonial myths and support a process of enclosure and dispossession, with strong similarities to colonial myths embedded in modernisation theories of development that also underpin processes of market expansion and resource accumulation. In a final assessment of resistance to these colonial myths, such as peasants’ rights movements, I will explore how colonial myths about Africa serve to encourage a certain type of environmentalism while criminalising others, subsequently managing dissent to land dispossession. Colonial myths of Africa and environmentalism are therefore a tool to control access to land, by concealing and legitimising processes of accumulation by dispossession. ‘God’s Own Garden’ – The Pristine Wilderness Myths about the African wilderness control access to land by erasing the history of how wilderness spaces had been artificially constructed as places devoid of human settlement. This is evident in South African and Tanzanian tourism, where sensory and exceptionalist language serves to romanticise the African wilderness. Tanzania is marketed by travel agencies as a natural paradise and a way of “experiencing Africa’s majesty”,5 while Peace Parks advertising campaigns such as ‘Boundless

Neumann, R. (2004), “Nature – state – territory: Towards a critical theorisation of conservation enclosures”, in R. Peet and M. Watts (eds.), (2004), Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, Social Movements, London: Routledge, p.181. 5 Brockington, D. (2006), “The politics and ethnography of environmentalism in Tanzania”, African Affairs, 105(418), p.104. 4


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South Africa’ promote mesmerising and ‘timeless’ natural scenery “free from human interference”. 6 Such descriptions of national parks as “God’s own garden” evoke a prehistoric vision of an unspoilt paradise that depoliticises the landscape,7 concealing the reality of such uninhabited landscapes being the result of colonial and postcolonial government action to control land as well as the people and animals which occupy it.8 The myth of an African wilderness portrays environmental conservation as apolitical and technical, but as Spence argues, this “uninhabited wilderness had to be created before it could be preserved”.9 As Neumann outlines, protected spaces such as the East African Savanna grasslands are portrayed as wild landscapes, when in reality they have been shaped by centuries of pastoralists’ herding.10 National parks and game reserves, such as the Kruger National Park in South Africa, are sites of forced removals and evictions during apartheid for the purpose of wilderness preservation, 11 despite a long history of these lands being cultivated, settled and grazed by local people. Myths of an African wilderness therefore conceal often violent processes of biopolitical environmental governance in which national parks were established under colonial projects of land management. 12 For instance, the creation of game reserves in the Liwale District in Tanzania was the result of a British colonial project of spatial reorganisation of land usage. In an attempt to reduce commercial crop predation by elephants in eastern Liwale while encouraging local populations in western Liwale to move to concentrated settlements eastwards, the colonial administration corralled elephant populations towards the west and expanded game reserves into peasant agricultural land. 13 Subsequent increased subsistence crop predation in western Liwale, combined with peasant disarmament policies to stop residents from defending their crops against increasingly dense elephant populations, served to coerce residents to evacuate by rendering subsistence livelihoods untenable.14

Barrett, G. (2013), “Markets of exceptionalism: peace parks in Southern Africa”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.461. 7 Peace Parks (2017), Peace Parks Foundation Annual Review 2017, p.16. 8 Ellis, S. (1994), “Of Elephants and Men: Politics and Nature Conservation in South Africa”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 20(1), p.54. 9 Neumann, R. (2004), “Nature – state – territory: Towards a critical theorisation of conservation enclosures”, in R. Peet and M. Watts (eds.), (2004), Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, Social Movements, London: Routledge, p.180. 10 Ibid., p.182. 11 Ramutsindela, M. and Shabangu, M. (2013), “Conditioned by neoliberalism: a reassessment of land claim resolutions in the Kruger National Park”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.442. 12 Death, C. (2016), “Green states in Africa: beyond the usual suspects”, Environmental Politics, 25(1), p.122. 13 Neumann, R. (2004), “Nature – state – territory: Towards a critical theorisation of conservation enclosures”, in R. Peet and M. Watts (eds.), (2004), Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, Social Movements, London: Routledge, p.189. 14 Ibid., p.190. 6


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Subsequently, rather than being the mythologised pre-modern landscape, national parks are sites of modernisation efforts to assert territorial state control over land, people and nature. 15 This “artifactual” construction of an uninhabited wilderness continued under post-independence governance,16 with Western conservationists lobbying newly independent governments to maintain the parks created under colonialism.17 The founding of Peace Parks by white billionaire Anton Rupert in South Africa presented these protected areas in harmonious, apolitical terms, continuing the myth of a natural wilderness while obscuring and failing to redress apartheid-era atrocities of land dispossession that created the parks.18 As a result, both pre-colonial land use and colonial processes of dispossession are buried under the myth of the wilderness landscape, as the land is “rehabilitated and redesigned” to erase traces of its history.19 This enables the de-politicisation of continued Western control over African land through global systems of environmental governance and development. As Brockington outlines, the NGOs that influence national conservation agendas in Africa, such as Conservation International and WWF, are heavily based in the West.20 Meanwhile most African-based conservation organisations, such as the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), are South African and headed by a white minority.21 Global conservationism and authority over African natural resources therefore takes a neo-colonial form, as international funding bodies such as USAID and the World Bank further encourage the maintenance and expansion of such conservation practices through a policy of conditionality. “Green conditionality”,22 for instance, ties the receipt of aid to the continued practice of environmental policies promoted by these organisations, with subsequent state support of extensions to national parks in Tanzania resulting in 31 per cent of its land mass being dedicated to conservation.23 Meanwhile conditionalities attached to Structural Adjustment Programmes in Africa have driven neoliberal reforms that saw the replacement of many state functions by civil society,

Ibid., p.194. Ibid., p.186. 17Büscher, B. et al. (2012), “Towards a Synthesized Critique of Neoliberal Biodiversity Conservation”, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, 23(2), p.17. 18 Büscher, B. and Ramutsindela, M. (2016), “Green Violence: Rhino Poaching and the War to Save Southern Africa’s Peace Parks”, African Affairs, 115(458), p.6. 19 Brandt, F. and Spierenburg, M. (2014), “Game fences in the Karoo: reconfiguring spatial and social relations”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 32(2), p.226. 20 Brockington, D. and Scholfield, K. (2010), “The work of conservation organisations in sub-Saharan Africa”, Journal of Modern African Studies, 48(1), p.11. 21 Death, C. (2014), “Environmental Movements, Climate Change, and Consumption in South Africa”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 40(6), p.1219. 22 Death, C. (2016), “Green states in Africa: beyond the usual suspects”, Environmental Politics, 25(1), p.128. 23 Brockington, D. (2006), “The politics and ethnography of environmentalism in Tanzania”, African Affairs, 105(418), p.102. 15 16


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therefore increasing the role for NGOs in national conservation agendas. 24 The reality of the mythologised ‘African wilderness’ is therefore heavily political and colonial. These neoliberal reforms, underpinned by modernisation theories of development as the transition to market society, have further encouraged the myth of a pristine African wilderness by promoting a market-based model of environmentalism, in which wildlife is commodified as ‘natural capital’.25 Büscher criticises neoliberal conservationism as a mode of accumulation by dispossession, in which maintaining “the aesthetics of a pleasing landscape” becomes “critical in ensuring prime locations for capitalist activity”.26 Subsequently, neoliberal conservationism promotes restrictions on resource use by local people in order to create a wilderness landscape that can be sold to mostly Western tourists through ‘eco-friendly’ safari holidays. The myth of an unspoilt wilderness is therefore heavily driven by a market process of enclosure,27 in which land and access to natural resources is accumulated to the benefit of the tourism industry through the dispossession of local people of what had once been common property. 28 The ‘real Africa’ advertised by tourist sites is subsequently a commodity created by processes of ‘eco-imperialism’,29 in which myths of preserving a natural wilderness conceal a capitalist project of accumulation. Fortress Conservationism: Enforcing the Wilderness This eco-imperialism is further legitimated by myths about African resource usage that assume the superiority of Western environmentalism, thus creating an imperative to exclude African people from land ownership and usage. Under both colonial and post-colonial environmental governance, this myth underpins top-down authoritarian land management practices through a narrative of African land degradation. According to Dunn, the creation of national parks by the colonial state was viewed as a civilising mission, based on the idea that native Africans “did not have sufficient respect for their environment”,30 and therefore misused natural resources. This narrative of inefficient and environmentally destructive African land practices asserted a need to protect the African wilderness Benjaminsen, T. A. et al. (2013), “Wildlife Management in Tanzania: State Control, Rent Seeking and Community Resistance”, Development and Change, 44(5), p.1091. 25 Büscher, B. and Fletcher, R. (2015), “Accumulation by Conservation”, New Political Economy, 20(2), p.282ff. 26 Ibid., p.289. 27 Akram-Lodhi, H. (2018), “‘Old Wine in New Bottles’: Enclosure, Neoliberal Capitalism and Postcolonial Politics”, in O. Rutazibwa and R. Shilliam (eds.), (2018), Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics, London: Routledge, p.275. 28 Ibid., p.279. 29 Ramutsindela, M. and Shabangu, M. (2013), “Conditioned by neoliberalism: a reassessment of land claim resolutions in the Kruger National Park”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.443ff. 30 Dunn, K. C. (2009), “Contested State Spaces: African National Parks and the State”, European Journal of International Relations, 15(3), pp.423-466. 24


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from local people, which was used to justify colonial control of land management and the dispossession of local rights to access natural resources. As Parasram argues, colonial conceptions of environmentalism were predicated on the idea of a separation of humans from nature, with assumptions of the superiority of Western forms of knowledge dismissing indigenous systems of knowledge, creating the myth that “only Western reason is capable of possessing crucial expertise”.31 African subsistence livelihoods and cultural practices were subsequently delegitimated and represented as threats to the African wilderness, a narrative that remains embedded in contemporary conservationism. For example, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) identifies small-scale farmers and pastoralists as threats to the wilderness. 32 Meanwhile, according to Brandt, white landowners in South Africa oppose land reform partly on the grounds that they view themselves as ‘custodians of nature’,33 demonstrating the survival of colonial myths in modern environmentalism that assume the superiority of Western land use practices in order to justify enclosure. This myth is heavily rooted in modernisation theories of development, which is predicated on Rostow’s evolutionary model of development from ‘tradition’ to ‘maturity’ or ‘modernity’. 34 As demonstrated in the word ‘maturity’ there is an implicit assumption in the superiority of Western capitalist society over traditional subsistence livelihoods, thus promoting eco-tourism and commons enclosure as a more sustainable form of land management. The influence of modernisation development theory on Western environmentalism is apparent. Death outlines how modern environmentalism regards environmentalism as a ‘postmaterialist’ value held by developed capitalist societies. 35 This is predicated on the idea that those still in the ‘tradition’ stage of development are only concerned with the immediate fulfilment of their subsistence needs, a view which is echoed in Ngubane’s interview with an official from the KwaZuluNatal Hunting and Conservation Association in South Africa. The official states that local people have a traditional rather than academic education on land use and therefore take a short-term approach for their immediate consumption needs.36 This reflects the traditional conservation view that “biodiversity Parasam, A. and Tilley, L. (2018), “Global Environmental Harm, Internal Frontiers and Indigenous Protective Ontologies”, in O. Rutazibwa and R. Shilliam (eds.), (2018), Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics, London: Routledge, p.306. 32 Wildlife Conservation Society (2018), East African Forests and Savannas. 33 Brandt, F. and Spierenburg, M. (2014), “Game fences in the Karoo: reconfiguring spatial and social relations”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 32(2), p.223. 34 Kiely, R. (2005), “Globalisation and poverty and the poverty of globalisation theory”, Current Sociology, 53(6), p.902. 35 Death, C. (2014), “Environmental Movements, Climate Change, and Consumption in South Africa”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 40(6), p.1219. 36 Ngubane, M. and Brooks, S. (2013), “Land beneficiaries as game farmers: conservation, land reform and the invention of the ‘community game farm’ in KwaZulu-Natal”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.405. 31


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preservation is at odds with the continued presence of local people who do not guard the environment properly”,37 either out of ignorance or because poverty forces them into environmentally destructive practices. The myth of the inferiority of African knowledge and land-use practices justifies restriction of access to the commons, despite the fact that local land management practices are often “not the central existential threat to wildlife”,38 with the myth ignoring the environmental degradation caused by modernisation development processes of market expansion. As Sunseri argues, the focus on peasants and pastoralists as the primary threats to forests in Tanzania ignores processes of timber extraction, mining, cash crop and monoculture tree plantations by both colonial and postcolonial governments. 39 In Büscher’s criticism of conservationism he asserts that de-legitimisation of local land practices helps “deflect understanding away from systemic causes of ecological crisis”, 40 which can be rooted in processes of capitalist expansion. For instance, as Barrett outlines, the alienation of local people from traditional means of subsistence through processes of commodification and enclosure makes people increasingly dependent on wage labour,41 which can tie their survival to extractive and environmentally destructive practices. SAPs have also encouraged environmental degradation while perpetuating the myth of destructive African land practices. As Sunseri notes, neoliberal reforms in Tanzania increased the expense of fuel imports for local people, which lead “directly to greater charcoal production” by forest inhabitants.42 These myths of African land degradation serve to delegitimise the presence of local people in the African ‘wilderness’, with colonial myths of the superiority of western land management presenting subsistence livelihoods as an environmental threat, while concealing the destructive impact of market processes that are promoted by modernisation theories of development. Myths of inferior African land use subsequently intersect with myths of African criminality to drive ‘fortress models’ of conservation to exclude African people from the land. Under this model, the mythologised natural

Sunseri, T. (2005), “‘Something else to burn’: Forest squatters, conservationists and the state in modern Tanzania”, Journal of Modern African Studies, 43(4), p.612. 38 Peet, R. (2010), “Global Nature”, in R. Peet et al. (eds.), (2010), Global Political Ecology, Abingdon: Routledge, p.27. 39 Sunseri, T. (2005), “‘Something else to burn’: Forest squatters, conservationists and the state in modern Tanzania”, Journal of Modern African Studies, 43(4), p.630. 40Büscher, B. et al. (2012), “Towards a Synthesized Critique of Neoliberal Biodiversity Conservation”, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, 23(2), p.9. 41 Barrett, G. (2013), “Markets of exceptionalism: peace parks in Southern Africa”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.470. 42 Sunseri, T. (2005), “‘Something else to burn’: Forest squatters, conservationists and the state in modern Tanzania”, Journal of Modern African Studies, 43(4), p.630. 37


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and apolitical wilderness is constructed and enforced by a strong “policing presence against anyone that is not a legitimate park consumer” through fencing, 43 police checkpoints and border controls around national parks. Traditional subsistence livelihoods such as hunting are therefore criminalised and “conflated with the ivory trade”,44 driving an increasing process of green militarisation that heavily guards access to natural resources in the parks. Conservation organisations play a strong role in green militarisation efforts, with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) funding the training and equipping of rangers,45 while providing training workshops about wildlife crime to help “strengthen legal systems in the fight against poaching”.46 According to Büscher, fears of poaching in South African Peace Parks have resulted in the increased legitimisation of “green violence” in the name of conservation by military and paramilitary personnel,47 resulting in the deaths of over 300 suspected poachers over 5 years. 48 Büscher asserts that myths about African criminality in South Africa, rooted in apartheid-era stereotypes, place poachers in “spaces of exception” in which extreme measures are justified, 49 as evidenced in the culture of celebrating the death of poachers online using violent language proclaiming that poachers “deserved to die”.50 Such discursive violence can be further rooted in the emotive publicity surrounding the topic of poaching. For instance, Ellis argues that publicity material by conservation NGOs such as the WWF contributed to “anti-black propaganda”,51 which ignored the role of the apartheid government in the ivory trade and presented poaching as a “problem of black Africa”. 52 As a result of increasingly extremist measures against poaching driven by these myths, the use of natural resources by local people unconnected to the ivory-trade is restricted. Myths about African criminality presented by conservationism serve to perpetuate conceptions of the ‘African wilderness’, in which the use of natural resources by African people is delegitimated and presented as a degrading incursion on the wilderness. This myth ignores the reality in which the absence of African people from the land has been driven by often violent processes of Barrett, G. (2013), “Markets of exceptionalism: peace parks in Southern Africa”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.471. 44 Ibid., p.471. 45 African Wildlife Foundation (2017), African Wildlife Foundation Annual Report 2017, p.7. 46 Ibid., p.14. 47 Büscher, B. and Ramutsindela, M. (2016), “Green Violence: Rhino Poaching and the War to Save Southern Africa’s Peace Parks”, African Affairs, 115(458), p.3. 48 Ibid., p.9. 49 Ibid., p.3. 50 Ibid., p.19. 51 Ellis, S. (1994), “Of Elephants and Men: Politics and Nature Conservation in South Africa”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 20(1), p.64. 52 Ibid., p.64. 43


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eviction and dispossession by colonial governments, that continued in the postcolonial era under neocolonial measures. The subsequent apolitical and ahistorical understanding of national park land, combined with myths about inferior African land use, serves to legitimise continued Western control over African land to which access by local populations is restricted. Community Co-operation: From Preservation to Sustainable Use Postcolonial criticisms against traditional conservationism have resisted these representations of Africa, debunking myths of an apolitical wilderness and the superiority of Western land practices and promoting sustainability models of environmentalism that strive to reverse the exclusion of African people from land management. In her outline of conservationism in Africa, Jones notes a shift driven by changing views of African environmental history, with social and environmental justice narratives promoting the return of land rights to local people and the recognition of indigenous knowledge.53 This paradigm shift in the literature has been reflected in changes in conservation practices away from top-down centralised ‘fortress conservation’ models towards more participatory community co-operation models. Projects such as Community Forest Management in Tanzania, 54 as well as Campfire in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park are therefore ‘represented as an antidote’ to the colonial myths embedded in traditional conservation.55 This transition was driven by changes in development discourses towards ideas of sustainable development during the 1990s, with subsequent ideas of sustainable utilisation of natural resources rather than preservation becoming more heavily implemented in South African conservation practices following the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. 56 The Summit called for the restitution of territories for people whose land had been declared protected areas during apartheid,57 demonstrating a recognition of a history of land-use and dispossession in resistance to apolitical and ahistorical mythologies of the African wilderness.

Jones, S. (2006), “A political ecology of wildlife conservation in Africa”, Review of African Political Economy, 33(109), p.484. Sunseri, T. (2005), “‘Something else to burn’: Forest squatters, conservationists and the state in modern Tanzania”, Journal of Modern African Studies, 43(4), p.632. 55 Wolmer, W. (2003), “Transboundary Conservation: The Politics of Ecological Integrity in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 29(1), p.267. 56 Olivier, L. (2013), “Bossiedokters and the challenges of nature co-management in the Boland area of South Africa's Western Cape”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.363. 57 Ibid., p.363. 53 54


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The two central tenants of this model are that local communities must receive direct benefits of resource use in national parks,58 and that local people who live subsistence livelihoods are both invested in sustainable natural resource use and “more informed about local ecological processes and practices”.59 This assertion of the value of indigenous knowledge demonstrates a significant rejection of colonial myths of poor African land use that were previously used to justify their exclusion from designated protected areas, with subsistence livelihoods reframed as not a threat to but as a means of environmental protection. Conservation NGOs today therefore emphasise that local people are both the primary beneficiaries and major participants in the national park project, through employment in eco-tourism and wildlife conservation as well as through subsistence livelihoods within the parks. The AWF for instance advertises its work with farmers in the Kilombero Nature reserve in Tanzania, where it provides training to improve cultivation techniques with the aim of protecting subsistence livelihoods and the biodiversity these livelihoods depend on.60 The PPF also involves local people through its conservation agriculture programs and the South African wildlife college where locals receive conservation training, and in its report it outlines the parks’ commitment to incorporating and preserving “the cultural and traditional knowledge of indigenous communities”.61 Youth projects in the Peace Parks, for example, teach bush medicine, tracking and herding skills, like teaching “the ancient skill of herding livestock sustainably” following “ancient herding patterns”.62 This seemingly demonstrates a marked shift away from modernisation narratives of development that privilege market society over subsistence livelihoods, and could be argued to be slowing the transition towards market livelihoods by maintaining and reinvigorating the viability of subsistence livelihoods. Through this promotion of subsistence livelihoods and African land usage, the ‘wilderness’ is somewhat reclaimed as a space of human occupancy. Myth of Empowerment: Colonial Terms of Access The narrative here is one of empowerment and celebration of indigenous cultures, with this discursive shift in contemporary conservationism seemingly rejecting colonial myths that privilege Western forms of land management. However, there are strong continuities in community co-

Wolmer, W. (2003), “Transboundary Conservation: The Politics of Ecological Integrity in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 29(1), p.267. 59 Olivier, L. (2013), “Bossiedokters and the challenges of nature co-management in the Boland area of South Africa's Western Cape”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.363. 60 African Wildlife Foundation (2017), African Wildlife Foundation Annual Report 2017, p.36. 61 Peace Parks (2017), Peace Parks Foundation Annual Review 2017, p.30 62 Ibid., pp.46-47. 58


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operation models that show subsistence livelihoods and African ownership of natural resources remain delegitimised, and rather than supporting a reclamation of the wilderness this model serves to further drive its enclosure. As this section will demonstrate, access to the wilderness under this model continues to be on colonial terms, and colonial myths continue to justify and conceal the control of African land ownership and usage according to processes of market accumulation. As Jones argues, despite the emphasis by conservation NGOs on community participation, this in practice amounts only to “passive participation” under co-management models in which management power remains embedded within conservation NGOs.63 In South African cases, where land confiscated under apartheid was returned, it was on the condition of continued conservation management supported by a cabinet memorandum that asserted “conservation is a land management issue and not a land ownership issue”.64 Benjaminsen outlines how pressure from international donors made community participation in Tanzania essential for funding;65 but, similarly, this did not involve authority of local people over wildlife. National parks have therefore become the site of a new myth of African empowerment, which conceals a reality of disempowerment as access to natural resources remains curtailed. Rather than direct access to natural resources, the benefits received by local villages are mostly limited to job creation in tourism,66 and where access to natural resources is granted it is subject to heavy restrictions. Pastoralists in Tanzania, for instance, need written permission to graze livestock, even where controlled areas overlap with village lands,67 while traditional healers (Bossiedokters) in South Africa need to provide exact locations and numbers of medicinal herbs collected, and inform CapeNature officials a week in advance.68 Despite images of participating Bossiedokters featuring prominently in CapeNature marketing, they describe their interactions with CapeNature as being

Jones, S. (2006), “A political ecology of wildlife conservation in Africa”, Review of African Political Economy, 33(109), p.486. Ngubane, M. and Brooks, S. (2013), “Land beneficiaries as game farmers: conservation, land reform and the invention of the ‘community game farm’ in KwaZulu-Natal”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.401. 65 Benjaminsen, T. A. et al. (2013), “Wildlife Management in Tanzania: State Control, Rent Seeking and Community Resistance”, Development and Change, 44(5), p.1093. 66 Godfrey, E. (2013), “Peanut butter salvation: the replayed assumptions of ‘community’ – conservation in Zambia”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.384. 67 Benjaminsen, T. A. et al. (2013), “Wildlife Management in Tanzania: State Control, Rent Seeking and Community Resistance”, Development and Change, 44(5), p.1095. 68 Olivier, L. (2013), “Bossiedokters and the challenges of nature co-management in the Boland area of South Africa's Western Cape”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.365. 63 64


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heavily exclusionary and bureaucratic, with their input marginalised in the face of a “hierarchy of expertise”.69 This demonstrates the continuity of colonial myths of inferior African resource use, with exclusionary management and policing of access being justified under assumptions that local people are “unprepared to take on management responsibilities”.70 Local control over resources therefore comes with the requirement of attending nature conservation training and “demonstrating their stewardship capacities”,71 showing that the legitimacy of African resource use is dependent on locals meeting Western environmentalist standards. Community co-operation models subsequently fail to resist colonial myths of ignorant and destructive Africans, with Bossiedokters complaining that “these conservation people think we are stupid […] as if we only know how to destroy nature”. 72 Due to continuities of colonial myths and conservation practices, Barrett describes community co-operation models as “fortress conservation with a pro-community veneer”,73 in which resource management is heavily authoritarian. For example, the purported recognition of indigenous subsistence cultures and knowledge through the formalisation of traditional hunting or herbalist groups in South Africa serve as a form of control and surveillance, as access is restricted to membership.74 Meanwhile violent processes of eviction continue to take place, with Tanzanian government forces burning settlements to remove villagers in 2009.75 Sunseri outlines less coercive means of eviction through the creation of “buffer zones to extend de facto reserve boundaries”,76 allowing wildlife populations to spill over into subsistence agricultural lands while criminalising attempts by local people to defend themselves against crop predation. This is similar to what occurred in the Liwale district under colonial rule, demonstrating the continued colonial discourse that criminalises and delegitimises the presence of African people on ‘wilderness’ land.

Ibid., p.362. Ngubane, M. and Brooks, S. (2013), “Land beneficiaries as game farmers: conservation, land reform and the invention of the ‘community game farm’ in KwaZulu-Natal”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.404. 71 Duffy, R. (2006), “Non-governmental organisations and governance states: The impact of transnational environmental management networks in Madagascar”, Environmental Politics, 15(5), p.740. 72 Olivier, L. (2013), “Bossiedokters and the challenges of nature co-management in the Boland area of South Africa's Western Cape”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.375. 73 Barrett, G. (2013), “Markets of exceptionalism: peace parks in Southern Africa”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.466. 74 Olivier, L. (2013), “Bossiedokters and the challenges of nature co-management in the Boland area of South Africa's Western Cape”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.365. 75Benjaminsen, T. A. et al. (2013), “Wildlife Management in Tanzania: State Control, Rent Seeking and Community Resistance”, Development and Change, 44(5), p.1099. 76 Sunseri, T. (2005), “‘Something else to burn’: Forest squatters, conservationists and the state in modern Tanzania”, Journal of Modern African Studies, 43(4), p.633. 69 70


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African presence on such wilderness land is subsequently only permitted on Western terms, with Barrett arguing that indigenous cultural practices and subsistence livelihoods are discredited unless they can become part of the tourist attraction, 77 in a form of ‘ethnotourism’.78 As Büscher criticises, tourism commodifies traditional cultures and uses “primitivism as the underlying asset”, 79 making the inclusion of local people subject to their ability to perform a romanticised vision of indigeneity that complements the mythologised wilderness. This is to the extent that some residents in the South Africa iSimangaliso Wetland Park report a minimisation of basic service provision and infrastructure,80 in order to preserve a pre-historical image that can be sold to tourists. As one South African tourism specialist states, in order for tourists to feel they have visited “real Africa” they cannot visit “downtown Joburg”, they need to see “lions or traditional dancers”.81 The emphasis on traditional cultures therefore make national parks the site of another colonial myth about African primitivity. The AWF, for instance, advertises to visitors the chance for a “predawn bushwalk with Maasai warriors”,82 while South African Peace Parks advertises its iron age heritage.83 Meanwhile the majority of Africans, who are marginalised from these wilderness spaces, are excluded from the narrative.84 This contributes to a continued ahistorical and apolitical mythology surrounding national parks, presenting them as a space of ancient history that exists “disengaged from the global free market”,85 and continues to obscure the inherently political project of dispossession and centralised accumulation behind ‘wilderness’ conservation. This myth justifies the preservation of the wilderness to maintain it as a commodity, while restricting access to those who can complement the wilderness by providing the further commodity of primitivity. Resistance: Reclaiming the Wilderness

Barrett, G. (2013), “Markets of exceptionalism: peace parks in Southern Africa”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.472. 78 Wolmer, W. (2003), “Transboundary Conservation: The Politics of Ecological Integrity in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 29(1), p.274. 79 Büscher, B. (2010), “Derivative Nature: interrogating the value of conservation in ‘Boundless Southern Africa’”, Third World Quarterly, 31(2), p.271. 80 Hansen, M. (2013), “New geographies of conservation and globalisation: the spatiality of development for conservation in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.496. 81 Büscher, B. (2010), “Derivative Nature: interrogating the value of conservation in ‘Boundless Southern Africa’”, Third World Quarterly, 31(2), p.268. 82 African Wildlife Foundation (2017), African Wildlife Foundation Annual Report 2017, p.44. 83 Peace Parks (2017), Peace Parks Foundation Annual Review 2017, p.32. 84 Barrett, G. (2013), “Markets of exceptionalism: peace parks in Southern Africa”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.467. 85 Godfrey, E. (2013), “Peanut butter salvation: the replayed assumptions of ‘community’ – conservation in Zambia”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.386. 77


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The failure of community co-operation models to reject myths that delegitimise African resource use has driven more radical forms of local resistance that attempt to assert ownership of natural resources. Dunn, for example, highlights the continued resource extraction, poaching, smuggling, settlement and grazing despite national park restrictions, with several hundred pastoralists bringing 20,000 cattle to squat in the Queen Elizabeth national park. 86 Local people also reject the legitimacy of conservationist organisations’ claims to management authority through acts of boundary destruction or arson.87 Meanwhile in Tanzania several villages have illegally formed independent contracts with private tour companies so that they can directly control the benefits of wildlife conservation on their lands.88 Such forms of resistance are however limited, as myths privileging the legitimacy of national park authority criminalise direct access by local people, and these myths of destructive land use and criminality therefore serve to control what forms of dissent are viewed as acceptable. “Conservation transgressors” in iSimangaliso Wetland Park are for example accused of “ecological theft”,89 and are subject to punitive action. Hansen further notes the co-optation of local communities to act as informants against those who continue to extract park resources,90 which Büscher argues serves to divide communities into “good and bad citizens”,91 and thereby legitimise and promote a certain form of environmentalism that conforms with national park standards. In response to national park standards that criminalise direct access, there are rising attempts at collective action, for example Cape Bush Doctors was founded in 2010 to collectively confront and challenge CapeNature restrictions on resource collection.92 Groups such as this one, or for example the South African Landless People’s Movement,93 are increasingly part of a rising transnational peasant movement that challenges myths asserting the legitimacy and superiority of Western land management. These environmental justice movements promote as an alternative the “resurrection of

Dunn, K. C. (2009), “Contested State Spaces: African National Parks and the State”, European Journal of International Relations, 15(3), p.440. 87 Sunseri, T. (2005), “‘Something else to burn’: Forest squatters, conservationists and the state in modern Tanzania”, Journal of Modern African Studies, 43(4), p.634. 88 Benjaminsen, T. A. et al. (2013), “Wildlife Management in Tanzania: State Control, Rent Seeking and Community Resistance”, Development and Change, 44(5), p.1099. 89 Hansen, M. (2013), “New geographies of conservation and globalisation: the spatiality of development for conservation in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.487. 90 Ibid., p.487. 91 Büscher, B. and Ramutsindela, M. (2016), “Green Violence: Rhino Poaching and the War to Save Southern Africa’s Peace Parks”, African Affairs, 115(458), p.12. 92 Olivier, L. (2013), “Bossiedokters and the challenges of nature co-management in the Boland area of South Africa's Western Cape”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), p.376. 93 Martiniello, G. (2013), “Land dispossession and rural social movements: the 2011 conference in Mali”, Review of African Political Economy, 40(136), p.316. 86


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the commons” and “de-enclosure of social wealth”,94 subsequently re-politicising conservation land as a space of accumulation by dispossession and demanding restitutions. Martiniello, however, outlines how the effectiveness of this form of resistance is limited, due in part to the fragmented and uncoordinated nature of transnational peasant movements. 95 Moreover, reports of environmental justice activists being beaten, harassed and arrested highlights how the marginalisation and criminalisation of alternatives to Western conservationism hinders more radical forms of resistance.96 In his assessment of environmental movements in South Africa, Death outlines how the conservation industry, which spans NGOs, state institutions and the private sector,97 dominates environmentalist discourses, with more radical environmental justice movements being less well-resourced and marginalised unless they moderate their policies.98 Additionally, as a legacy of the exclusion of local people from environmentalism except under Western terms, of either performative primitivity or restriction of access to resources, environmentalism tends to be perceived as elitist and detached from the concerns of the majority, 99 thus inhibiting mass mobilisation. This demonstrates how myths of environmentalism and African land use, in which Western conservation practices are privileged and direct access to land outside of these practices is framed as destructive and criminal, serve to dissuade and manage dissent. These mythologies are subsequently not only a tool of accumulating land and resources by legitimising Western ownership and African dispossession, but also a tool of maintaining control over land by setting the terms of resistance. Conclusion Contemporary environmentalism and conservationism continue to only legitimise a certain form of environmentalism, one that serves to reproduce colonial myths about Africa that legitimise access to natural resources only on Western terms. These terms include the acceptance of centralised national park authority over natural resource management, and the maintenance of a romanticised ‘wilderness’ that can be sold to Western tourists. Community co-operation models failed to resist the myths about African inferiority and criminality that justified fortress conservation models as they do Akram-Lodhi, H. (2018), “‘Old Wine in New Bottles’: Enclosure, Neoliberal Capitalism and Postcolonial Politics”, in O. Rutazibwa and R. Shilliam (eds.), (2018), Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics, London: Routledge, p.285. 95 Martiniello, G. (2013), “Land dispossession and rural social movements: the 2011 conference in Mali”, Review of African Political Economy, 40(136), p.316. 96 Ibid., p.313. 97 Death, C. (2014), “Environmental Movements, Climate Change, and Consumption in South Africa”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 40(6), p.1222. 98 Ibid., p.1226. 99 Ibid., p.1226. 94


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not radically address issues of resource ownership or recognise processes of dispossession. Through harmonious images of community participation and apolitical representations of the ‘wilderness’, community co-operation models ultimately serve to legitimise Western control and discursively marginalise alternatives promoting environmental justice. Resistance, therefore, still has to face narratives of criminality that encourage a certain form of environmentalism while ignoring the injustices and violence behind enclosure. Challenging the legitimacy of national park authority and the illegitimacy of local African control over natural resources, hence, requires the re-politicisation of the mythologised ‘wilderness’ as a space of accumulation by dispossession, and the recognition of the role these myths play in controlling access to land. Through narratives that erase the history of the wilderness and its construction, while identifying African land use outside of Western authority as an environmental threat and incursion into ‘God’s own garden’, the myths underpinning conservation practices create and secure the commodity that is the African wilderness. References African Wildlife Foundation (2017), “African Wildlife Foundation Annual Report 2017”. Available at: https://www.awf.org/sites/default/files/public%3A//media/Resources_0/Annual%20Report s/AWF_AR17_Spreads_LowRes.pdf, (Accessed: 19 December 2018). Akram-Lodhi, H. (2018), “‘Old Wine in New Bottles’: Enclosure, Neoliberal Capitalism and Postcolonial Politics”, in O. Rutazibwa and R. Shilliam (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics, London: Routledge, pp.274-288. Barrett, G. (2013), “Markets of exceptionalism: peace parks in Southern Africa”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), pp.457-480. Benjaminsen, T. A., Goldman, M. J., Minwary, M. Y., Maganga and F. P. (2013), “Wildlife Management in Tanzania: State Control, Rent Seeking and Community Resistance”, Development and Change, 44(5), pp.1087-1109. Brandt, F. and Spierenburg, M. (2014), “Game fences in the Karoo: reconfiguring spatial and social relations”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 32(2), pp.220-237. Brockington, D. and Scholfield, K. (2010), “The work of conservation organisations in sub-Saharan Africa”, Journal of Modern African Studies, 48(1), pp.1-33. Brockington, D. (2006), “The politics and ethnography of environmentalism in Tanzania”, African Affairs, 105(418), pp.97-116. Büscher, B., Sullivan, S., Neves, K., Igoe, J. and Brockington, D. (2012), “Towards a Synthesized Critique of Neoliberal Biodiversity Conservation”, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, 23(2), pp.4-30. Büscher, B. and Fletcher, R. (2015), “Accumulation by Conservation”, New Political Economy, 20(2), pp.273-298


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Büscher, B. and Ramutsindela, M. (2016), “Green Violence: Rhino Poaching and the War to Save Southern Africa’s Peace Parks”, African Affairs, 115(458), pp.1-22. Büscher, B. (2010), “Derivative Nature: interrogating the value of conservation in ‘Boundless Southern Africa’”, Third World Quarterly, 31(2), pp.259-276. Death, C. (2014), “Environmental Movements, Climate Change, and Consumption in South Africa”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 40(6), pp.1215-1234. Death, C. (2016), “Green states in Africa: beyond the usual suspects”, Environmental Politics 25(1), pp.116-135. Duffy, R. (2006), “Non-governmental organisations and governance states: The impact of transnational environmental management networks in Madagascar”, Environmental Politics, 15(5), pp.731-749. Dunn, K. C. (2009), “Contested State Spaces: African National Parks and the State”, European Journal of International Relations, 15(3), pp.423-466. Ellis, S. (1994), “Of Elephants and Men: Politics and Nature Conservation in South Africa”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 20(1), pp.53-69. Godfrey, E. (2013), “Peanut butter salvation: the replayed assumptions of ‘community’ – conservation in Zambia”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), pp.380-398. Hansen, M. (2013), “New geographies of conservation and globalisation: the spatiality of development for conservation in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), pp.481-502. Jones, S. (2006), “A political ecology of wildlife conservation in Africa”, Review of African Political Economy, 33(109), pp.483-495. Kiely, R. (2005), “Globalisation and poverty and the poverty of globalisation theory”, Current Sociology, 53(6), pp.895-914. Martiniello, G. (2013), “Land dispossession and rural social movements: the 2011 conference in Mali”, Review of African Political Economy, 40(136), pp.309-320. Neumann, R. (2004), “Nature – state – territory: Towards a critical theorisation of conservation enclosures”, in R. Peet and M. Watts (eds.), Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, Social Movements, London: Routledge, pp.179-199. Ngubane, M. and Brooks, S. (2013), “Land beneficiaries as game farmers: conservation, land reform and the invention of the ‘community game farm’ in KwaZulu-Natal”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), pp.399-420. Olivier, L. (2013), “Bossiedokters and the challenges of nature co-management in the Boland area of South Africa's Western Cape”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), pp.361-379. Parasam, A. and Tilley, L. (2018), “Chapter 25: Global Environmental Harm, Internal Frontiers and Indigenous Protective Ontologies”, in O. Rutazibwa & R. Shilliam (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics, London: Routledge, pp.302-317. Peace Parks (2017), “Peace Parks Foundation Annual Review 2017”. Available at: https://www.peaceparks.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/2017-Peace-Parks-AnnualReview_web.pdf, (Accessed: 19 December 2018). Peet, R. (2010), “Global Nature”, in R. Peet, P. Robbins and M. Watts (eds.), Global Political Ecology, Abingdon: Routledge, pp.1-48.


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Ramutsindela, M. and Shabangu, M. (2013), “Conditioned by neoliberalism: a reassessment of land claim resolutions in the Kruger National Park”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31(3), pp.41-456. South Africa National Parks (2018), “Kruger National Park”. Available at: https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/, (Accessed: 19 December 2018). Sunseri, T. (2005), “‘Something else to burn’: Forest squatters, conservationists and the state in modern Tanzania”, Journal of Modern African Studies, 43(4), pp.609-640. Wildlife Conservation Society (2018), “East African Forests and Savannas”. Available at: https://www.wcs.org/our-work/regions/east-african-forests-savannas, (Accessed: 19 December 2018). Wolmer, W. (2003), “Transboundary Conservation: The Politics of Ecological Integrity in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park”, Journal of Southern African Studies, 29(1), pp.261-278.


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Rethinking the Myth that Africa is ‘Un-feminist’

Molly Maple, 3rd Year Essay BA (Hons) English Literature and American Studies

Abstract: The facile construction of Africa as a monolith, combined with the global dominance of Western feminism, has led to the pervasive myth that Africa is ‘un-feminist’. Using Nigeria as a case study, this paper will work to reconsider Africa’s relationship with feminism with the aim of demonstrating how the country boasts a long tradition of feminist activism both at the international and grassroots level, and is home to African theorists who have conceptualised distinctly African models through which to approach issues of equality. Through engaging with these ‘African feminisms’ this paper will show how listening to alternative feminist frameworks can elucidate the shortcomings of Western feminism, and provide a laudable start in the exploration of new ways to understand societies, which would remain attentive to cultural specificity, historical and on-going power hierarchies, and be grounded in different epistemological foundations to the dominant knowledge frameworks relied upon by traditional Western feminists.

Nigerian scholar Oyèrónké Oyèwùmí asserts that the domination of Western preconceptions about Africa and especially the myth that Africa is un-feminist has left “no room to imagine African women who can help themselves, or African cultures poised to teach the world important lessons”. 1 While not disagreeing that the myths surrounding African feminism remain pervasive, I want to consider Oyèwùmí’s lament, finding the ‘room’ to analyse the agency of African women and realise the lessons that can be learned from an appreciation and engagement with Africa’s feminisms. In order to begin my analysis of feminism within Africa, I have decided to choose Nigeria as the backbone of my empirical study. The facile yet pervasive construction of Africa as a monolith has facilitated the casually constructed but prevalent myths about the continent.2 Therefore, in order to counteract such generalisations, I want to look specifically at Nigeria with nods to its commonality with other African countries. Nigeria remains a deeply patriarchal society and yet while the situation is worrying, I want

Oyèwùmí, O. (2016), What gender is motherhood: Changing Yorùbá Ideals of Power, Procreation and Identity in the Age of Modernity, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p.215. 2 Wainaina, B. (2006), “How to Write about Africa”, Granta Magazine. 1


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to question the prevalence of the myth that Nigeria is un-feminist despite the wealth of its feminist tradition, breadth of modern-day activism, and its position as housing the majority of scholars who write the works that constitute ‘African feminisms’.3 To unpick the myth, I will begin by considering the Western homogenous construction of the ‘African Woman’ as helpless, devoid of agency and thus needing to be ‘saved’. My discussion will then expand to dismantle the myth, doing so through an analysis of Nigerian women’s role within international and national organisations as individuals and campaigns which openly embrace the term ‘feminist’ and as such, ideologically tie themselves to the underpinnings of the mainstream Western feminist movement. Showing that Nigerian actors are not mere spectators in the global push for gender equality will straightforwardly reject such articulations of the inactivity and non-existence of feminism on the continent. I will then look to the alternative feminist voices emerging, principally from Nigeria, which directly work to contest and rework Western feminist articulations, which elucidate some of Western feminisms shortcomings and omissions in terms of: exclusivity; their conceptual and epistemological underpinnings; and the commonplace neglect found in Western feminist literature to fully appreciate the micro-political and macro-political factors which considerably alter the disparate realities of people across the world. By way of clarity, it must be noted that when speaking of feminism, I am using my own broader definition, in line with Patricia McFadden’s contention, that it is a worldview that has at its core “the belief in an ability to transform individual and collective lives”, 4 through a particular focus on the systematic inequality women face in our patriarchal world. As such, when referencing Western feminism, I am invoking the narrow Western feminist movement which has epistemological roots in Britain and America, beginning in the mid-1800s. Although to define Western feminism as one would be to eliminate the outlier voices and subtle distinctions that have always been present in its theorisation, I want to consider the pervasive conceptualisation of feminism as tied inseparably from the movement and work of First and Second-wave Western feminist scholars. Though these individuals and western feminism more generally have radically reshaped the political, social and economic landscape for women today, this essay will be focusing specifically on how western feminism’s sustained focus on the empowerment of the ‘White Woman’ has been at the cost of other women who lie outside this narrowly defined parameter and central emphasis.

3 4

Lewis, D. (2001), “Introduction: African Feminisms”, Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 50(1), pp.4-10. McFadden, P. (2007), “African Feminist Perspectives of Post-Coloniality”, The Black Scholar, 37(1), p.37.


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Myths, in part, work through the construction and repetition of discourses which can be fed through repeated representations and narrativised images. A deeper understanding of the myth that Africa is un-feminist, therefore, can be facilitated through a consideration of representations of African women, particularly within Western discourses, and the monolithic construction of the ‘African Woman’ as poor, helpless, and devoid of agency. The ‘African Woman’ is therefore vulnerable and needs to be ‘saved’. Mirroring a commonality found in Western liberal commentary on the continent which constructs Africa as a monolith, the construction of African women – despite their sheer number, multitude of ethnicities, and regional differences – is often equally homogeneously construed. Critic Everjoice Win discusses how the stereotypical image of the ‘African Woman’ as “poor [and] powerless” has become a “favourite image, one which we have especially come to associate with development”.5 Win discusses the pervasiveness of this stereotypical representation which can be located from “the United Nations [...] to small non-governmental organizations”,6 where she contends the image has been “used and abused” in order to garner financial support and in order to sustain ‘legitimacy’.7 While in recent decades, notably from the 1990s, the increase of scholarship critiquing this portrayal has stimulated a shift in the methods external agencies and governments use to discuss and portray African women, critics such as Kaplana Wilson have argued that even the more ‘positive’ images of African woman remain depoliticised and continue their representation as devoid of agency.8 Within post-colonial feminist discourse, the representation of African women has become a central thematic contestation and point of exploration. One of the most influential scholars in such a discussion is Chandra Mohanty and her essay ‘Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses’.9 In her work, Mohanty discusses how traditional Western feminist theory constructs non-Western women through a process of ‘othering’, monolithically representing them as always victimised and apolitical. As such, the ‘Third World Woman’, as Mohanty theorises, is positioned beneath the ‘White Woman’, who is then implicitly implied as constituting her saviour. This has led to the frequent usurping of non-white voices within the Western feminist movement which is constructed, falsely, as inclusive of the universal ‘woman’ experience.

Win, E. J. (2009), “Not Very Poor, Powerless or Pregnant: The African Woman Forgotten by Development”, IDS Bulletin, 35(4), p.61. 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid. 8 Wilson, K. (2011), “‘Race’, Gender and Neoliberalism: changing visual representations in development”, Third World Quarterly, 32(2), pp.315-331. 9 Mohanty, C. (1988), “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses”, Feminist Review, 30(1), pp.6188. 5


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The conceptualisation of African women as homogeneously constructed ‘victims’ unable to ‘help themselves’ and the implication, therefore, that it is the West that must speak for or ‘save’ African women reproduces the myth that Africa is un-feminist. However, this supposed inexistence of the ‘African’ feminist voice can straightforwardly be disproven through the consideration of grassroots and larger organisations around the continent that are working to tackle issues of gender inequality and which follow frameworks recognisable to Western feminist tradition. Progression within the field of development more generally to incorporate African voices and the shift in portraying a more ‘positive’ image of Africans as agents of change10 has led to an increase in African women holding positions within global development organisations, through which they are able to directly participate within the global push for gender equality that these organisations espouse. While still limited, there has emerged a greater inclusion of African women in broader international feminist discussion with an increase in globally organised events hoping to spotlight the “strength of women as agents of change in African societies often dominated by men”.11 It is not only through the cooperation of Nigerians within international agencies that we are provided with convincing rebukes to the myth but also through a consideration of the thinkers and campaigns working organically: at the grassroots level but also within the intellectual realm. Minna Salami, the Nigerian founder of the explicitly feminist blog Ms. Afropolitan, explains that there has been a proliferation in recent years of individuals and organisations explicitly linking themselves to the ideology of feminism within Nigeria.12 If traced back, however, the first organisation that would be recognisable to the mainstream Western feminist movement, in terms of aims and its open identification as a ‘feminist movement’, was Women In Nigeria (WIN), which emerged in 1983. One of WIN’s founders, Bene E. Madunagu, has explained that by openly calling WIN a feminist organisation, it was placed in a “clear ideological position”,13 attached to the global feminist movement. WIN paved the way for the modern-day eruption of organisations which have emerged in Nigeria as “pronouncedly feminist platforms”,14 working to combat gender-based discrimination across a variety of domains. By way of an example, these include: The Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund, which works to “increase the representation of women in Nigerian governance at all levels and address

Wilson, K. (2011), “‘Race’, Gender and Neoliberalism: changing visual representations in development”, Third World Quarterly, 32(2), pp.315-331. 11 UN News (2018), Nigerian women artists unite at UN to change perceptions of women and Africa. 12 Salami, M. (2018), “Nigerian feminism – past, present and future perspectives”, Ms. Afropolitan Blog. 13 Madunagu, B.E. (2008), “The Nigerian Feminist Movement: Lessons from Women in Nigeria, WIN”, Review of African Political Economy, 35(118), p.666. 14 Salami, M. (2018), “Nigerian feminism – past, present and future perspectives”, Ms. Afropolitan Blog. 10


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the growing concerns about the gender imbalance in elective and appointive positions”; 15 the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), a healthcare organisation working to advocate women’s maternal and reproductive health; and Girls Power Initiative, which has the explicit mission of intervening in “the socialisation of girls for the realisation of a future where women are visible and valued actors in Nigerian society”.16 In terms of individuals, the most notable self-proclaimed Nigerian feminist is author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who made a speech at TEDXEuston entitled ‘We should all be feminists’. In her speech, Adichie made a compelling argument as to why people should be feminists, clearly explaining through a lens sensitive to Nigerian culture what it means to her: “A feminist is a man or a woman who says: yes there is a problem with gender as it is and we must fix it, we must do better”.17 Giving examples of moments of misogyny she had faced in Nigeria, Adichie broadened her talk to encompass the need for a global change in how gender is addressed. Adichie’s testimonials were “as approachable as they [were] transformative”,18 and her clear assertion of the inescapable reality that “gender matters” everywhere worked to release the term ‘feminism’ from its ‘unafrican’ connotations.19 Her speech, which was turned into book format, had an impressive global impact with TIME magazine, placing her on their list of The 100 Most Influential People,20 Beyonce sampling sections of the speech,21 and the Swedish Women’s Lobby providing a copy of her book “to every 16 year old in Sweden”.22 The effect of Adichie’s speech was palpable in Nigeria too, with its role in igniting a conversation across Nigeria when a book-group, having read the text version of Adichie’s speech, started the hashtag #BeingFemaleInNigeria in June 2015 which a month later had been used over 54,000 times.23 The twitter-housed conversation grew from a focus on everyday sexism to a wider discussion encompassing how cultural norms, religious practices, and government policy have “led to the oppression of [Nigerian] women in all spheres of national life”. 24 Hashtag feminism, whilst

The Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund, About Us. Ibid. 17 Adichie, C. (2014), We Should All Be Feminists, New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 18 McLarnon, C. (2016), “Why We Should All Be Feminists A Book Review of ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”, Make Every Woman Count Blog. 19 Ibid. 20 Time (2015), “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”. 21 The New York Times (2017), “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Blueprint for Feminism”, 15 March. 22 The Guardian (2015b), “Every 16-year-old in Sweden to receive copy of We Should All Be Feminists”, 1 December. 23 The Guardian (2015a), “#BeingFemaleInNigeria: book club ignites everyday sexism debate”, 1 July. 24 Olofintuade, A. (2017), “Female in Nigeria: Profile”, Feminist Africa, 22(1), p.164. 15 16


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contested,2526 has become a key tenet of global feminist activism in the modern age and its prevalence within Nigeria, with other hashtag movements such as #MaternalMonday (an advocacy campaign led by WBFA) and #BringBackOurGirls (a campaign ignited after the 2014 kidnapping of over 300 Nigerian schoolgirls), being indicative of the growing agency of self-proclaimed Nigerian feminists who assert their views, using techniques familiar to the mainstream global feminist movement. The myth that Africa is un-feminist purports the assertion that African women remain mere spectators to the global feminist agenda unable to help themselves, and yet the examples given provide evidence as to Africa’s distinct role within the feminist movement and individuals’ significant contribution to “global understandings and the implementation of women’s rights”,27 both within Nigeria, the wider continent and the world more generally. A consideration of feminism within Africa is not complete, however, if only considered through the organisations and individuals who remain ideologically tied to the global Western feminist agenda, both in theory and practice. In fact, many explicitly object to the ‘feminist’ label on account of its deeply entangled position to the Western feminist movement. As scholar Oyèrónké Oyèwùmí stipulates “despite the adjectives used to qualify feminism, it is Western feminism that inevitably dominates even when it is not the subject under consideration”.28 As Adichie summarises, the term is “so heavy with baggage, negative baggage”,29 in the African context, due to its narrowly perceived equation to the singular Western feminist movement. This leads to groups refusing to call themselves ‘feminist’ despite the work they do fitting with how feminism, in a broader sense, can be defined. An example of this can be noted with the all-female Nigerian biker group – D’Angels – who provide women with free breast cancer screenings and yet reject the label ‘feminist’. 30 The prevalence of this refusal within Nigerian society is encapsulated by the recent tweets made by Eunice Atuejide, a female presidential candidate for Nigeria’s upcoming elections, in which she explicitly proclaims not to be a feminist, despite the fact that she is running for the leadership role in a country where less than “6% of elective positions are held by women”.31

Chen, G. et al. (2018), “‘Hashtag Feminism’: Activism or Slacktivism?”, in D. Harp, J. Loke and I. Bachmann (eds.), (2018), Feminist Approaches to Media Theory and Research (Comparative Feminist Studies), London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.197219. 26 Khoja-Moolji, S. (2015), “Becoming an ‘Intimate Publics’: Exploring the Affective Intensities of Hashtag Feminism”, Feminist Media Studies, 15(2), pp.347-350. 27 Swift, J. (2017), African Women and Social Movements in Africa – AAIHS. 28 Oyèwùmí, O. (2003), African Women and Feminism: Reflecting on the Politics of Sisterhood, Asmara: Africa World Press, p.1. 29 Adichie, C. (2014), We Should All Be Feminists, New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 30 Salami, M. (2018), “Nigerian feminism – past, present and future perspectives”, Ms. Afropolitan Blog. 31 CNN (2018), “Nigeria: The women who reject feminism”, 8 October. 25


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Within the intellectual realm, this rejection of Western feminism can be noted with the African theorists who explore gender relations, but through lenses that reject the usual homogenisation of women that traditional Western feminism relies upon. As has been explained and theorised by Mohanty,32 Western feminism has been critiqued for its homogenisation and exclusion of non-white women and has, as such, garnered a host of critics emerging initially in the 1970s, theorised principally by women of colour in the West.3334 Underpinning these critiques is an insistence on theorisations of gender which are not abstracted from social context and other systems of hierarchy.35 Elizabeth Spelman’s comment epitomises these critics’ concerns when she writes “how one form of expression is experienced is influenced by and influences how another form is experienced”.36 However, I contend that formulations made by African theorists, and their adherence to honouring the experiences and realities of African women, offer varying conceptualisations of feminist thinking which, unlike the aforementioned Western critics, remain firmly outside the tenets of the Western feminist paradigm, instead relying on indigenous models of knowledge. As Susan Arndt has explained, the wealth of African discourse on feminism is that it manifests itself largely through the “theorization of alternative concepts to feminism”,37 by which she means Western feminism. A consideration of these feminisms can therefore facilitate a broader critique of Western feminist thinking and become a useful resource in the “gender debates influenced by poststructuralism [which have] given rise to an understanding of the dynamics, complexity and diversity of feminism [making] it necessary to speak of feminisms rather than feminism”.38 Emerging largely, but not solely, from West Africa and namely Nigeria, African scholars have worked during the last three decades to produce distinctly African models to approach women’s issues, with their concerns over the singular construction of ‘feminism’ as the Western variant often shown through their linguistic aversion to the term. The result has been a myriad of theories and voices, which work to reject Western feminism’s traditional tendency to usurp other female voices. Whilst working to reject Western feminism this does not constitute a rejection of feminism as the wider ideology, per se. Rather, a difference needs to be understood between feminism,

Mohanty, C. (1988), “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses”, Feminist Review, 30, pp.61-88. Carby, H. (1982), “White Women Listen! Black Feminism and the Boundaries of Sisterhood”, in Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (eds.), (1982), The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 70s Britain, London: Hutchinson, pp.110-128. 34 Hooks, B. (1982), Ain’t I a Woman?: Black women and feminism, London: Pluto Press. 35 Oyèwùmí O. (2002), “Conceptualising Gender: Eurocentric Foundations of Feminist Concepts and the Challenge of African Epistemologies”, Jenda, 2(1), pp.1-5. 36 Spelman, E. (1988), Inessential woman: Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought, Boston: Beacon Press, p.50. 37 Arndt, S. (2002), “Perspectives on African Feminism: Defining and Classifying African-Feminist Literatures”, Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 54(1), p.32. 38 Ibid., p.31. 32 33


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conceptualised as the singular Western movement which dominated global feminist practices, and the theoretical works produced by African scholars which have been collectively described, in part for linguistic ease, as ‘African feminisms’.39 These ‘African feminisms’ are theorised using indigenous models, crucially remaining sensitive to the plurality of experiences felt by African women and the diversity of social realities on the continent. The most prolific of these feminist models is Womanism. While the term ‘Womanism’ was coined by African-American author and poet Alice Walker, the focus of my discussion will use Nigerian literary critic Chikwenye Okono Ogunyemi’s own interpretation of Womanism which she reached independently of Walker but which includes several overlaps. Ogunyemi’s Womanism situates a feminist vision which distinctly focuses on the black women’s experience at the intersections of culture, colonialism and other forms of domination.40 Another prominent scholar is Molara Ogundipe-Leslie and her theorisation of STIWAnism, which rejects the stipulation found in African Womanism of its diasporic applicability and instead is resolutely positioned as “feminism in an African context”.41 Deeply-rooted in the experiences and realities of women on the continent, STIWAnism puts African women at the centre of its discourse, focusing on the female body as “sacred” and therefore a potential site for political action.42 STIWAnism also discusses the necessity of collaboration between males and females, with Ogundipe-Leslie stressing the necessity of all males, in Africa and beyond, to also be “liberatory feminists” committed to the tenets of STIWAnisim – “the social transformation including women in Africa”.43 Aware of the divisive discussions that arise from debates about feminism within Africa, Ogundipe-Leslie’s theorising of STIWAnism works to examine gender whilst honouring African particularities encompassing themes including race, history, economics and social dynamics. Ogundipe-Leslie makes clear that this must be completed with “critical sensitivity [to] the complexity and differences in [Africa’s] history, sociology and experience” and underpinned by the necessity for African women to “theorize their own feminisms”.44 Motherism is a further important piece of scholarship theorised by Catherine Obianuju Acholonu.45 This feminist model is “anchored on the matrix of motherhood” which Acholonu claims is central to “African metaphysics

Nkealah, N. (2016), “(West) African Feminisms and Their Challenges”, Journal of Literary Studies, 32(2), p.62. Ogunyemi, C. O. (1985), “Womanism: The Dynamics of the Contemporary Black Female Novel in English”, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 11(1), pp.63-80. 41 Ogundipe-Leslie, M. (1994), Re-creating Ourselves: African Women & Critical Transformations, New Jersey: Africa World Press, p.207. 42 Ibid., p.212. 43 Ibid., p.230. 44 Ibid., p.208. 45 Acholonu, C. O. (1995), Motherism: The Afrocentric Alternative to Feminism, Owerri: Afa Publications. 39 40


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and has been the basis of the survival and unity of the black race through the ages”.46 Acholonu emphasises how African women (conceptualised as Mothers) are “the spiritual base of every family, community and nation” and how this relates to the necessity for Africa’s role in the global perspective as never being “divorce[d] from her quintessential position as Mother Continent”.47 A Motherist, like a STIWanist, is not gender specific and the “weapon” of Motherism, as Acholonu explains, is “love, tolerance, service, and mutual cooperation of the sexes”.48 Succinctly put, “Africa’s alternative to feminism is MOTHERISM and Motherism denotes motherhood, nature and nurture”.49 There is also Chioma Opara’s Femalism which “stresses the female body in raw” and posits the African female body as a “transcendent mechanism of constructed and generative nature”.50 The African female body and especially the mother’s body is often symbolically linked to the African nation, a construction similarly extolled through Motherism. Finally, Nego-feminism, as theorised by Obioma Nnaemeka,51 and by Akachi Ezeigbo’s Snail-Sense feminism,52 are both “firmly hinged on a tripod of gender inclusion, complementarity and collaboration”,53 and stress the necessity to negotiate the cultural and traditional norms of African, particularly Nigerian, society in order for equality to be realised. Some scholars have condemned the variety of -isms,54 arguing they generate a lot of methodological terminologies at the cost of “shifting attention away from what is essentially substantive”.55 However, their variety demonstrates a sensitivity towards cultural specificity and represents an effort by African women to acknowledge difference. Mirroring what Mohanty has insisted is needed for inclusive cross-cultural feminist work, these models demonstrate an attentiveness to “the micropolitcs of context, subjectivity and struggle”.56 Equally, whilst these strands of feminist thought include a multiplicity of different, and at times contesting viewpoints, there are in fact convergences, one such being the seeming aim of “ decentering [...] feminism away from the

Ibid., p.120. Ibid., p.119. 48 Ibid. 49 Ibid., p.110. 50 Opara, C. (2005), “On the African Concept of Transcendence: Conflating Nature, Nurture and Creativity”, International Journal of Philosophy and Religion, 21(2), p.191. 51 Nnaemeka, O. (2003), “Nego-feminism: Theorizing, Practicing and Pruning Africa’s Way”, Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 29(2), pp.357-385. 52 Ezeigbo, A. (2012), Snail-sense Feminism: Building on an Indigenous Model, Lagos: University of Lagos. 53 Nkealah, N. (2016), “(West) African Feminisms and Their Challenges”, Journal of Literary Studies, 32(2), p.62. 54 Salo, E. and Mama, A. (2001), “Talking about Feminism in Africa”, Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 50, pp.59. 55 Oyeleye, O. (2017), “Feminism(s) and Oppression: Rethinking Gender from a Yoruba Perspective”, in A. Afolayan and T. Falola (eds.), (2017), The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p.355. 56 Mohanty, C. (2003), “Under Western Eyes Revisited: Feminist Solidarity through Anticapitalist Struggles”, in C. Mohanty (ed.), (2003), Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, North Carolina: Duke University Press Books, p.223. 46 47


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West”.57 With their focus on the diversity of social realities across the continent, these ‘African feminisms’ deny the possibility of the monolithic construction of the experiences of women and as such, directly oppose and highlight the comparative homogenisation of women found within traditional Western feminist theory. These distinctly African contestations to Western feminism are indicative of wider fears within Africa of feminism being a “foreign import” which is supposed to sit “uneasily on the continent, posing a fundamental tension with Africa’s indigenous worldviews and authentic social arrangement”.58 Feminism is thus rejected on suspicion of acting as a colonial force and as a further example of the imposition of Western frameworks on the continent. While this contestation can become damaging if used to disguise the espousal of patriarchal views, 59 a consideration of ‘African feminisms’ as rejections can also work to rectify and highlight the omissions and limitations within the Western feminist movement through highlighting its relationship with wider themes of ongoing imperialism. The aforementioned articulations of feminist theory based on indigenous models and expressed by Africans work to protest “the White history of and White domination within feminism”,60 partly through rejecting the external homogenisation of African women but also through their attentiveness to the ways in which Western feminist thinking has been conceptualised as holding the “ahistorical or universal ‘truth’ about women and gender”.61 By highlighting the eurocentric epistemological foundations of global Western feminism and showing the effect that this has had on perceptions and realities of feminism within Africa, critiques of Western feminism can be positioned within a wider critique of the ongoing cultural imperialism through which the West continues to “undermine the philosophical ideologies and belief system of African peoples”. 62 In order to illustrate this point, I want to consider the formulations made by Oyèwùmí about the pre-colonial and colonial history of Yorùbán society. 63 Oyèwùmí’s study argues that prior to colonial involvement, gender was not an organising principle amongst Yorùbán people and that different sexed bodies were not gendered separately. She ties the post-independent position of women Oyeleye, O. (2017), “Feminism(s) and Oppression: Rethinking Gender from a Yoruba Perspective”, in A. Afolayan and T. Falola (eds.), (2017), The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p.355. 58 du Toit, L. and Coetzee, A. (2017), “Gendering African Philosophy, or: African Feminism as Decolonizing Force”, in A. Afolayan and T. Falola (eds.), (2017), The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p.333. 59 Bowler, D. (2016), Feminism is not un-African or irrelevant. 60 Arndt, S. (2002), “Perspectives on African Feminism: Defining and Classifying African-Feminist Literatures”, Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 54, p.32. 61 du Toit, L. and Coetzee, A. (2017), “Gendering African Philosophy, or: African Feminism as Decolonizing Force”, in A. Afolayan and T. Falola (eds.), (2017), The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p.334. 62 Nkealah, N. (2016), “(West) African Feminisms and Their Challenges”, Journal of Literary Studies, 32(2), p.62. 63 Oyèwùmí, O. (1997), The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. 57


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within Nigeria as “second-class” citizens to the colonial European imposed process of “inventing them as women”.64 Oyèwùmí asserts that gender, as a Western construct, is thereby an ineffective and inappropriate lens through which to analyse Africa, and criticises Western feminism for assuming the existence of such a hierarchical framing when analysing Yorùbán society, which she condemns as it both perpetuates and reproduces the foreign imposed hierarchy. As she explains in the book’s preface, “This book is not about the so-called woman question. The woman question is a Western-derived issue”.65 Oyèwùmí makes an epistemological point in that she contends that through the euro-centric process of knowledge, production that Western feminist scholarship has relied upon to theorise Yorùbán society, the Yorùbán reality has been erased. Linking this to the wider Eurocentric domination of knowledge production which colonialism sustained, Oyèwùmí situates Western feminist discourse and its essentialised notions of gender, with the damaging practice of the imposition of foreign knowledge onto societies where the reality is contradictory. Admittedly, in more recent decades there has been a shift within postcolonial feminist discourse to incorporate debates about the constructed quality of gender as a “system based on a binary of hierarchical division between man and woman”,66 which is not indigenous to some cultures and which has instead been imposed onto societies through Western colonial rule.676869 However, Oyèwùmí’s distinct look at Yorùbán society offers an alternative and ethnographically based rebuke. Like the examples given of scholars theorising ‘African feminisms’, the unique position of Oyèwùmí as a scholar studying and writing from a non-Western perspective, enables an epistemological vantage point outside Western paradigms that is “rich in resources to subvert, rupture and enrich dominant systems of knowledge”.70 In other words, through analysis and theorising feminism within the African context, the field of feminism, as an ideology which ties in with Western dominant knowledge production, can be successfully explored, expanded and contested. Arndt has identified the common denominator found in ‘African feminisms’ as being their aim of “upsetting the existing matrix of domination” and how, through overcoming it, they are able to “transfor[m] gender

Ibid., p.127. Ibid., p.1. 66 Coetzee, A. (2017), African feminism as decolonising force: a philosophical exploration of the work of Oyèrónké Oyèwùmí, Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University. 67 See Sandoval, C. (2000), Methodology of the oppressed, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. 68 McClintock, A. (1995), Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, New York: Routledge. 69 Sharpe, J. (1993), Allegories of Empire: The Figure of Woman in the Colonial Text, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. 70 Coetzee, A. (2017), African feminism as decolonising force: a philosophical exploration of the work of Oyèrónké Oyèwùmí, Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University. 64 65


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relations and conceptions in African societies”.71 As such, ‘African feminisms’ provide alternative frameworks through which a consideration of the situation of women globally can more broadly be explored. To conclude, far from being un-feminist, Africa is home to a wealth of feminist activism noticeable both at the international level but also through the plethora of independently rooted organisations, which often contain multi-national and international dimensions, and which endorse explicit feminist aims. Despite this feminism, still regarded as relating to the Western feminist movement, there remains a contentious issue within Africa due to worries over its ineptitude at appropriately theorising African contexts and its position as an extension of cultural imperialism. This, combined with the external victimisation of African women as helpless victims, has led to the pervasiveness of the myth that Africa is un-feminist. However, through new conceptualisations of distinctly ‘African feminisms’, African women are forcing their voices to be heard and providing new conceptualisations and lenses through which to approach issues of equality. As such, these theorists are placing new demands and posing critical questions for the consideration of the broader feminist movement. Locating and engaging with these ‘African feminisms’ provides a laudable start in the exploration of alternative ways to understand different societies, which could remain more attentive to cultural specificity, historical and ongoing power hierarchies, and be grounded in different epistemological foundations to the dominant knowledge frameworks so relied upon by traditional Western feminists. As Amina Mama wrote in the first editorial for the journal Feminist Africa, “the persistence of patriarchal hegemony across the African region has stimulated a visible proliferation of feminist scholarship and strategy”,72 which has evolved, as Patricia McFadden writes, into “a lively critical discourse and activist culture that can no longer be ignored”.73 References Acholonu, C. O. (1995), Motherism: The Afrocentric Alternative to Feminism, Owerri: Afa Publications. Adichie, C. (2014), We Should All Be Feminists, New York: Harper Collins Publishers. Afolayan, A. and Falola, T. (2017), The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Arndt, S. (2002), “Perspectives on African Feminism: Defining and Classifying African-Feminist Literatures”, Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 54(1), pp.31-44.

Arndt, S. (2002), “Perspectives on African Feminism: Defining and Classifying African-Feminist Literatures”, Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 54, p.32. 72 Mama, A. (2002), “Editorial”, Feminist Africa, 1(1), p.1. 73 McFadden, P. (2007), “African Feminist Perspectives of Post-Coloniality”, The Black Scholar, 37(1), p.36. 71


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Bowler, D. (2016), Feminism is not un-African or irrelevant. Available at: https://ewn.co.za/2016/02/09/OPINION-Danielle-Bowler-Feminism-is-not-un-African-orirrelevant, (Accessed: 22 December 2018). Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (1982), The Empire Strikes Back: Race and Racism in 70s Britain, London: Hutchinson. CIA World Factbook (2018), Africa: Nigeria — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency. Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ni.html, (Accessed: 18 December 2018). CNN (2018), “Nigeria: The women who reject feminism”, 8 October. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/08/africa/nigeria-gender-wars-twitterfeminism/index.html, (Accessed: 4 January 2019). Coetzee, A. (2017), African feminism as decolonising force: a philosophical exploration of the work of Oyèrónké Oyèwùmí, Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University. Available at: http://scholar.sun.ac.za/handle/10019.1/102695, (Accessed: 26 December 2018). Ezeigbo, A. (2012), Snail-sense Feminism: Building on an Indigenous Model, Lagos: University of Lagos. Girls’ Power Initiative, About Us. Available at: https://www.gpinigeria.org/about-us/, (Accessed: 21 December 2018). Harp, D., Loke J. and Bachmann I. (2018), Feminist Approaches to Media Theory and Research (Comparative Feminist Studies), London: Palgrave Macmillan. Hooks, B. (1982), Ain’t I a Woman?: Black women and feminism, London: Pluto Press. Khoja-Moolji, S. (2015), “Becoming an “Intimate Public: Exploring the Affective Intensities of Hashtag Feminism”, Feminist Media Studies, 15(2), pp.347-350. Kolawole, M. (2002), “Transcending Incongruities: Rethinking Feminisms and the Dynamics of Identity in Africa”, Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 54(1), pp.92-98. Lewis, D. (2001), “Introduction: African Feminisms”, Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 50(1), pp.4-10. Madunagu, B. E. (2008), “The Nigerian Feminist Movement: Lessons from Women in Nigeria, WIN”, Review of African Political Economy, 35(118), pp.666-673. Mama, A. (2002), “Editorial”, Feminist Africa, 1(1), pp.1-5. McClintock, A. (1995), Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, New York: Routledge. McFadden, P. (2007), “African Feminist Perspectives of Post-Coloniality”, The Black Scholar, 37(1), pp.36-42. McLarnon, C. (2016), “Why We Should All Be Feminists A Book Review of ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”, Make Every Woman Count Blog. Available at: http://www.blog.makeeverywomancount.org/why-we-should-all-be-feminists-a-book-reviewof-we-should-all-be-feminists-by-chimamanda-ngozi-adichie/, (Accessed: 17 December 2018). Mohanty, C. (1988), “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses”, Feminist Review, 30(1), pp.61-88. Mohanty, C. (2003), Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, North Carolina: Duke University Press Books.


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Nkealah, N. (2016), “(West) African Feminisms and Their Challenges”, Journal of Literary Studies, 32(2), pp.61-74. Nnaemeka, O. (2003), “Nego-feminism: Theorizing, Practicing and Pruning Africa’s Way”, Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 29(2), pp.357-385. Obioma, N. (1998), Sisterhood, Feminisms and Power: From Africa to the Diaspora, New Jersey: Africa World Press. Ogundipe-Leslie, M. (1994), Re-creating Ourselves: African Women & Critical Transformations, New Jersey: Africa World Press. Ogundipe-Leslie, M. (2007), Indigenous and Contemporary Gender Concepts and Issues in Africa: Implications for Nigeria’s Development, Lagos: Malthouse Press. Ogunyemi, C. O. (1985), “Womanism: The Dynamics of the Contemporary Black Female Novel in English”, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 11(1), pp.63-80. Olofintuade, A. (2017), “Female in Nigeria: Profile”, Feminist Africa, 22(1), pp.163-173. Opara, C. (2005), “On the African Concept of Transcendence: Conflating Nature, Nurture and Creativity”, International Journal of Philosophy and Religion, 21(2), pp.189-200.

Oyèwùmí, O. (1997), The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. Oyèwùmí, O. (2002), “Conceptualising Gender: Eurocentric Foundations of Feminist Concepts and the Challenge of African Epistemologies”, Jenda, 2(1), pp.1-5. Oyèwùmí, O. (2003), African Women and Feminism: Reflecting on the Politics of Sisterhood, Asmara: Africa World Press. Oyèwùmí, O. (2016), What gender is motherhood: Changing Yorùbá Ideals of Power, Procreation and Identity in the Age of Modernity, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Salami, M. (2018), “Nigerian feminism – past, present and future perspectives”, Ms. Afropolitan. Available at: https://www.msafropolitan.com/2018/10/nigerian-feminism-past-present-andfuture-perspectives.html, (Accessed: 19 December 2018). Salo, E., and Mama, A. (2001), “Talking about Feminism in Africa”, Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity 50(1), pp.58-63. Sandoval, C. (2000), Methodology of the oppressed, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. Sharpe, J. (1993), Allegories of Empire: The Figure of Woman in the Colonial Text, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. Spelman, E. (1988), Inessential woman: Problems of Exclusion in Feminist Thought, Boston: Beacon Press. Swift, J. (2017), “African Women and Social Movements in Africa – AAIHS”, Aaihs.org. Available at: https://www.aaihs.org/african-women-and-social-movements-in-africa/, (Accessed: 20 December 2018). The Guardian (2015a), “#BeingFemaleInNigeria: book club ignites everyday sexism debate”, 1 July. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/01/being-female-in-nigeriachimamanda-adichie-twitter-sexism, (Accessed: 17 December 2018).


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The Guardian (2015b), “Every 16-year-old in Sweden to receive copy of We Should All Be Feminists”, 1 December. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/04/every-16-yearold-in-sweden-to-receive-copy-of-we-should-all-be-feminists, (Accessed: 22 December 2018). The New York Times (2017), “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Blueprint for Feminism”, 15 March. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/books/chimamanda-ngozi-adiche-dearijeawele.html, (Accessed: 27 December 2018). The Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund, About Us. Available at: http://nigerianwomentrustfund.org/aboutus, (Accessed: 21 December 2018). Time (2015), “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”. Available at: http://time.com/3823296/chimamandangozi-adichie-2015-time-100/, (Accessed: 22 December 2018). Tripp, A. (2017), “How African feminism changed the world - African Arguments”, African Arguments. Available at: https://africanarguments.org/2017/03/08/how-african-feminism-changed-theworld/, (Accessed: 20 January 2019). UN News (2018), “Nigerian women artists unite at UN to change perceptions of women and Africa”, 1 March. Available at: https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/03/1004682, (Accessed: 13 December 2018). Van Der Spuy, P. and Clowes, L. (2007), “Accidental Feminists? Recent Histories of South African Women”, Kronos, 33, pp.211-235. Wainaina, B. (2006), “How to Write about Africa”, Granta Magazine. Available at: https://granta.com/how-to-write-about-africa/, (Accessed: 11 December 2018). The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, About us | The Wellbeing Foundation Africa. Available at: http://www.wbfafrica.org/content/about-us, (Accessed: 21 December 2018). Wilson, K. (2011), “‘Race’, Gender and Neoliberalism: changing visual representations in development”, Third World Quarterly, 32(2), pp.315-331. Win, E. J. (2009), “Not Very Poor, Powerless or Pregnant: The African Woman Forgotten by Development”, IDS Bulletin, 35(4), pp.61-64.


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“Pray the gay away” – A Postcolonial Examination of Missionary Activities in 19th Century Uganda

Elizabethpeace Onwuka-Okoye, 3rd Year Essay BA(Hons) Politics, Philosophy & Economics

Abstract: Advocates for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexual Bill have based their arguments on the idea that homosexuality is unAfrican, un-Godly, immoral and unnatural. This dissertation examines the longstanding assumption that samesex relations were a Western import, alien to the traditional culture of Africans, by providing an insight into practices which prove otherwise. Through detailed analysis of postcolonialism and religion, specifically Christianity, I identify that Uganda’s political discourse on homosexuality has strong links with its power dynamic with the West. Cultural influences from Europe altered Uganda’s representations of sexual morality and homosexuality. Upon these findings, I argue that Uganda’s contemporary political behaviour is a reflection of its colonial past. Subsequently, this paper calls for African nations like Uganda to reconsider the laws that affect their LGBT communities so as to not perpetuate a narrative they, in fact, did not create.

Contents Section I: List of Abbreviations ..................................................................................................... Section II: Introduction .............................................................................................................. Section III: Contextual Background ............................................................................................... 1. Uganda's history with Christianity and homosexuality 2. Sexuality in Africa.............................................................................................................. Section III: Literature review ....................................................................................................... Section IV: Hypothetis – The White Man’s disease ............................................................................. Section V: Theoretical framework ................................................................................................. Section VI: Discussion ............................................................................................................... 1. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2. Colonialism, the Church and homosexuality .............................................................................. 3. Limitations: Conflicting perceptions of homosexuality…………………………………………………. Section VII: Conclusion.............................................................................................................. References .............................................................................................................................


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List of Abbreviations IGLA – The International Gay, Lesbian Association LGBT – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual AHB – Anti-Homosexuality Bill CMS – The Church Missionary Society CAL – Coalition of African Lesbians SMUG – Sexual Minorities Uganda PVO – Private Voluntary Organisations FBO – Faith Based Organisations Introduction “As a citizen of a modern Western democracy it is easy to assume that homosexuality is a civil liberty similarly debated throughout the world. However, while gay rights remain contentious even in the most liberal forums, their popular dissemination and subsequent prevalence in today’s democratic discourse is not universal.”1

The impetus for this dissertation comes from two major strands of public discourse, separated by roughly 100 years, concerning homosexuality and African politics. Sexual orientation is usually categorised as such: Heterosexual (having emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to members of the other sex), homosexual (having emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to members of one’s own sex), and bisexual (having emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to both men and women).2 According to a 2007 survey by the International Gay and Lesbian Association (IGLA), 40 of 53 nations in Africa have in some form criminalised same-sex relations,3 despite there being cultural and traditional practices that demonstrate their existence for centuries. 4 In fact, shown by pioneering scholars like Sylvia Tamale and Marc Epprecht, same-sex relationships were proven as widely accepted practices in pre-colonial Africa. However, I argue this lack of consensus on the existence of homosexuality stems from the censuring of Africa’s pre-colonial past, and the subsequent rise of Western imperialism. In short, how can one debate homosexuality as a civil liberty in Africa when its very existence is questioned?

Anderson, B. (2007), “The Politics of Homosexuality in Africa”, Africana, 1, p.123. American Psychological Association (2008), Answers to your questions for a better understanding of sexual orientation and homosexuality, Washington DC. 3 Anderson, B. (2007), “The Politics of Homosexuality in Africa”, Africana, 1, p.126. 4 Murray, S. O. and Roscoe, W. (1998), “Africa and African homosexualities: An Introduction”, in S. O. Murray and W. Roscoe (eds.), (1998), Boy Wives and Female Husbands: Studies of African Homosexualities, New York: St Martin’s Press, pp.1-18. 1 2


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One may argue that Africa ought to follow in the footsteps of modern Western democracies and welcome the idea of legalised same-sex marriages and civil liberties for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community. In my view, colonial rule had such a profound effect on sexuality and gender identity in African countries. On the surface the protest against Uganda’s 2009 AntiHomosexual Bill (AHB) would appear to be a clash between Western liberals and conservative Africans, and indeed both sides present themselves in those terms; however, it is well-recorded that the West were not particularly liberal on this issue till the 21 st century. In reality, some of the most outspoken advocates against homosexuals in Africa today are directly linked to Western Christian missionary activity, so-called sexual reorientation ministries from the USA in particular. Moreover, perpetuating the idea that Africa is barbaric in its treatment of the homosexuals neglects the growing LGBT community who are often subjected to a narrow and stereotypical portrayal of what it means to live as a homosexual by Western media. It is ironic then that former president Mugabe talks of a new type of Western imperialism in the form of “gay governments” when he is feeding into the narrative that Africa is incapable of sophisticated thoughts and emotions.5 This paper’s distinct contribution will be the exploration of this paradox between Uganda’s post-colonial identity and the West’s liberal hypocrisy. Building on prior studies, we will unravel Uganda’s complex history of sexuality and dismantle the myth behind Africa as a “Dark Continent” by regaining agency over its representations.6 This paper will break new ground on the ‘homosexuality is un-African’ debate by investigating the lasting effects of Western colonialism, and how colonial rule is still reflected in Uganda’s politics. In light of Bahati’s attempts to criminalise same-sex relationships, and considering Uganda’s distinctive history with homosexuality dating as far back as the 1800s, this East-African country will be the main focus for this paper. Firstly, I explain Uganda’s history with Christian missionaries and how past representations of homosexuality have influenced current Ugandan leaders. I also explore how sexuality in Africa has been framed as part of the colonial program. Secondly, I provide a review of current literature examining three arguments: 1.

Homosexuality is un-African and therefore not of Ugandan culture.

Epprecht, M. (2004), Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, Montreal and Kingston: McGilleQueen’s University Press, p.4. 6 Jarosz, L. (1992), “Constructing the Dark Continent: Metaphor as Geographic Representation of Africa”, Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 74(2), pp.105-115. 5


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2.

Homophobia in Africa is a remnant of colonialism and missionary activities.

3.

Homosexuality threatens the traditional African family unit.

Of particular focus will be argument 2, that is, homosexuality is illegal in Uganda in part because homophobia is a remnant of colonial rule. I will prove this is the case by presenting a hypothesis and applying a theoretical framework incorporating Sugirtharajah and Bhabha’s ideas on post-colonial theory, and with Bongmba’s debate on hermeneutics I offer an explanation of how and why homophobia exists in Uganda’s political sphere. In doing so, I will reveal how colonial ideals have shaped the political environment in Uganda. After this, a discussion on the findings will elucidate the common themes which arose from sources and how they might affect our understanding of the AHB. Finally, I shall acknowledge the limitations of my arguments and summarise the paper’s discoveries. Contextual Background 1. Uganda’s history with Christianity and homosexuality To produce an analysis of Uganda’s links with homosexuality and understand how sexuality, politics and religion are all deeply laced within the fabric of Uganda’s pre-colonial history, it is first worth re-examining the event behind the Ganda martyrs of 1886: “A group of Anglican and Catholic converts to Christianity in the historical kingdom of Buganda, now part of Uganda, were executed on orders of Mwanga II, the last independent King of Buganda, after refusing to yield to what missionaries called ‘unnatural desires’.”7

Thoonen argues that unlike the Muslims and pagans, Mwanga detested the Christian missionaries because they associated his ‘unnatural desires’ to Sodom and Gomorrah. 8 It is said that The Church Missionary Society (CMS) which was set in Rubaga, Buganda’s capital in 1878, used their deaths to enlist wider public support for the British acquisition of Uganda for the Empire, although the reasons behind their persecution are still heavily debated.9 One explanation claims that given their role as pages to the King, these converts were clearly targeted by the missionaries as important subjects due to their proximity to the throne. 10 As proxies for the prospective colonial administrators, it could be said that the missionaries acted under the guise of religion to influence the kingdom. I argue that the decision to execute the pages was political rather Hoad, N. W. (2007), African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality, and Globalization, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p.7. 8 Thoonen, J.P. (1941), Black Martyrs, London: Sheed & Ward. 9 Apter, D. E. (1961), The Political Kingdom in Uganda: A Study of Bureaucratic Nationalism, Princeton: Princeton University, p.77 10 Hoad, N. W. (2007), African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 7


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than religious because minor chiefs were also executed, some of whom were “the victims of particular grudges by their seniors”.11 Furthermore, it was never revealed what exactly the missionaries considered ‘unnatural’. It has been asserted that “a set of older practices serving ritual, religious, initiatory, or fealty-producing functions” could easily be re-coded by the missionaries under the term ‘unnatural’.12 It is possible, then, that the Christian missionaries manufactured Uganda’s religious understandings of homosexuality to fuel their political agenda. If this is the case, then Mwanga’s decision to seize power was purely reactionary and an effort to gain back political control. Hoad tells us that any refusal of the King’s demands, regardless of whether they were of a sexual nature or not, was a political act, and as such was considered a declaration of allegiance to an external authority.13 Lunyiigo raises an interesting point by questioning why the missionaries did not lead by example and offer to die alongside the martyrs since they wanted to introduce a new religion in this part of the world in the first place.14 Instead, the newly converted were left emboldened by the Christian missionaries to face death for the sake of an imported religion. This is why I argue that the missionaries acted in a way befitting of a coloniser because they effectively misled the converts into thinking their enlightenment into this new religion would protect them. That said, the martyrs’ “heroism” continues to receive much acclaim in Uganda’s Christian community and is commemorated annually on ‘The Martyrs’ Feast Day’. 15 For some, it represents a tale of brave resistance against tyranny or one of unwavering faith and firm belief in God.16 For others, it is a form anti-colonial resistance, as Mwanga attempted to keep religious intervention at bay, that was stamped out by an earlier wave of European imperialism.17 Nevertheless, my main interest lies in how contemporary leaders in Uganda have used this piece of history to denounce “homosexuality as a white man’s disease”.18 According to Guma, different

Iliffe, J. (2005), Honour in African History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.172-173 Hoad, N. W. (2007), African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p.14 13 Ibid. 14 Lunyiigo, S. L. (2011), Mwanga II: Resistance to imposition of British colonial rule in Buganda, 1884-1899, Kampala: Wavah Books. 15 Guma, P. (2016), “Narratives of ‘saints’ and ‘sinners’ in Uganda: Contemporary (re)presentations of the 1886 story of Mwanga and Ganda ‘martyrs’”, in A. S. Van Klinken and E. Chitando (eds.), (2016), Public religion and the politics of homosexuality in Africa, Abingdon, Routledge, p.198. 16 Ward, K. (2002), “Same-Sex Relations in Africa and the Debate on Homosexuality in East African Anglicanism”, Anglican Theological Review, 84(1), pp.81-111. 17 Hoad, N. W. (2007), African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 18 Ibid., p.15. 11 12


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interpretations of the Ganda martyrs have served different desired interests of Ugandan leaders. 19 President Yoweri Museveni was quoted in his 2010 Martyr’s Day address explicitly associating the 1886 incident to ‘sodomy’ which is unusual since speeches before this made no reference to homosexuality at all.20 In fact, a year had not passed since the AHB was pushed into the spotlight by self-identified born-again Christian, David Bahati.21 One could argue that as homophobia was becoming a dominant voice of mainstream politics, Museveni’s 2010 address was not just a coincidence but a reflection of the anti-homosexual rhetoric in Uganda.22 Indeed, across Africa the same sentiment against homosexuality can be found. Former President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, set the tone by infamously describing gays and lesbians as “worse than pigs and dogs” in 1995.23 In September 2000, Namibia’s Minister of Home Affairs urged new police recruits to eliminate gays and lesbians. National and religious leaders from different parts of Africa have increasingly pronounced homosexuality as alien to African culture, tradition and heritage.24 However, I believe that the 1886 incident was the first of its kind that places an African country at the cusp of formal European colonisation experiencing similar pressures to conform and assimilate as it faces today. To explain further, in pre-colonial times there is evidence to suggest that Africa was indifferent to same-sex relations. There is a history of ‘kuchu’, a Swahili word referring to homosexuals, and kuchu-friendly bars, restaurants and service providers that exist in Uganda. 25 In Southern Nigeria, the Igbo culture has long nurtured same-sex couples consisting of ‘woman-husband’ and ‘woman-wife’ which pre-dates Christianity and so-called Western culture.26 Among the Yoruba and the Ovimbundu tribe, a common initiation ritual involved sexual practice between men.27

Guma, P. (2016), “Narratives of ‘saints’ and ‘sinners’ in Uganda Contemporary (re)presentations of the 1886 story of Mwanga and Ganda ‘martyrs’”, in A. S. Van Klinken and E. Chitando (eds.), (2016), Public religion and the politics of homosexuality in Africa, Abingdon: Routledge. 20 Belvins, J. (2012), “When Sodomy Leads to Martyrdom: Sex, Religion, and Politics in Historical and Contemporary Contexts in Uganda and East Africa”, Theology and Sexuality, 17(1), pp.51-74. 21 Bahati, D. (2009), “The Anti-Homosexuality Bill”, Uganda Gazette CII47. 22 Guma, P. (2016), “Narratives of ‘saints’ and ‘sinners’ in Uganda Contemporary (re)presentations of the 1886 story of Mwanga and Ganda ‘martyrs’”, in A. S. Van Klinken and E. Chitando (eds.), (2016), Public religion and the politics of homosexuality in Africa, Abingdon: Routledge. 23 Epprecht, M. (2004), Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, Montreal and Kingston: McGilleQueen’s University Press, p.3. 24 Reddy, V. (2009), “Perverts and Sodomites: Homophobia as Hate Speech in Africa”, Southern African Linguistics Applied Language Studies, 20(3), pp.163-175. 25 Epprecht, M. (2004), Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, Montreal and Kingston: McGilleQueen’s University Press. 26 Cadigan, Jean R. (1998), “Woman-to-woman marriage: Practices and benefits in Sub-Saharan Africa”, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 29(1), pp.89-98. 27 Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books, p.76. 19


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I think that by defending African authenticity, these leaders are inadvertently reproducing an understanding of sexuality which is fundamentally European. Africa’s colonial masters have invented traditions for African societies to adhere to, thereby transforming flexible custom into hard prescription. Ranger agrees that the only model of “modern” behaviour Africans were offered in the advent of colonialism was imported from Europe and provided whites with models of command. 28 2. Sexuality in Africa Building on from the idea that sexuality in Africa is seen through a European lens, I argue that colonialist representations of African sexuality have been manufactured to corroborate racialised assumptions of African people. Tamale concurs that colonialists produced the earliest written records of studies on African sexuality during the 1800s and that those reports were commonly constructed around imperial notions of African culture as primitive and inferior to Western culture.29 For Europeans, whose sexuality was governed by the laws of an omniscient God, Africans’ relative casualness about sexuality was extremely unsettling to observe.30 It is also true that colonialists deemed Africans as highly sexualised and animal-like as reported by Tamale.31 Nevertheless, African men were known to show physical intimacy that in other cultures could be misinterpreted: “African men hug, kiss and hold hands with each other without the implication of romance or sexual attraction”.32 According to his view, physical, sexual or romantic same-sex relationships existed without being deemed as anything other than natural. It is possible that after learning African men were amenable to sex with other males under certain circumstances, Christian missionaries mobilised their efforts to direct propaganda against same-sex sexual practices on a mass scale. Upon reflection, I agree that Christian propaganda and colonialism had a major impact on Africa’s perspective on sexuality. In spite of this, however, it would be wrong to attribute the emergence of explicit homophobia among all Africans today merely to the trickle-down effect of Christian propaganda.33 Like Epprecht, I believe it results from incremental cultural influences arising

Ranger, T. (1983), “The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa”, in E. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger (eds.), (1983), The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.212. 29 Tamale, S. (2011), African Sexualities: A Reader, Oxford: Pambazuka Press, pp.14-15. 30 Epprecht, M. (2004), Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, Montreal and Kingston: McGilleQueen’s University Press. 31 Tamale, S. (2011), African Sexualities: A Reader, Oxford: Pambazuka Press. 32 Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books, p.59. 33 Epprecht, M. (2004), Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, Montreal and Kingston: McGilleQueen’s University Press. 28


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out of European discourses around sexual morality as well as the growing political discourse on the LGBT community.34 Literature Review To my knowledge, few scholars have presented their thoughts on African sexuality, let alone African homosexuality. I suppose this is because the continent is unique in that it provides a full spectrum of attitudes concerning the treatment of homosexuals, ranging from the death penalty in Sudan and Algeria to legal same-sex marriage in South Africa.35 For this reason, I address the full scope of thoughts on the topic by reviewing existing literature. I also think that given the diverse nature of Africa, it would be a mistake to assume nothing less than an equally diverse makeup of beliefs and viewpoints. The primary purpose of this review is to ascertain if there is evidence compelling enough to offer some insight into the following statements: 1.

Homosexuality is un-African and therefore not of Ugandan culture.

2.

Homophobia in Africa is a remnant of colonialism and missionary activities.

3.

Homosexuality threatens the traditional African family unit.

Proponents of the argument that homosexuality is un-African posit numerous reasons, notably the notion that same-sex relationships are a western import, foreign to the African people, un-Godly, and alien to their customs and traditions. Pre-existing literature indicates that a number of African leaders have declared their disfavour of decriminalising homosexuality by framing same-sex practices as an abomination to God.36 For example, in 2008, President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia threatened to behead homosexuals and gave them an ultimatum to leave the country. In addition, former Presidents Arap Moi of Kenya and Chiluba of Zambia publicly broadcasted that homosexuality is un-African and contrary to Christianity.37 Nyanzi critiques these African leaders, saying they have drawn their arguments from “reified traditional African culture, conservative religious interpretations, heteronormative moralities, and pro-natalist assumptions”.38 In a similar vein, Epprecht’s ‘Sexuality and Social Justice in Africa’ pays attention to dispelling the common misperception that homosexuality is “against African traditions” by showing that all three Ibid. Nullis, C. (2006), “Same Sex Marriage Law Takes Effect in S. Africa”, The Washington Post, 30 November. 36 Nyanzi, S. (2013), “Dismantling reified African culture through localised homosexualities in Uganda”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(8), pp.952-967. 37 Nyanzi, S. (2013), “Dismantling reified African culture through localised homosexualities in Uganda”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(8). 38 Ibid., p.956. 34 35


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groups of faiths – traditional, Christianity and Islam – have historically been amenable to accepting sexual difference.39 If I focus on his discussion with Christianity and homosexuality, I learn that debating the theology behind the Bible is not a useful approach to understanding the Church’s position against LGBT. This is because both Christians and African LGBT are able to ignore the selective homophobia and interpret the Bible in an “LGBTI friendly way”. 40 It is more sensible to examine the non-theological factors, namely, the economic and political contexts that make homophobia more or less attractive to African preachers and their audiences.41 That said, Bongmba’s42 use of Bultmann’s43 hermeneutics on the bible invites us to think more critically about arguments involving scripture, of which I will discuss later. What comes across as a common theme within the literature is that sexuality in Africa has been marred with Western stereotypes of African people.4445 Morgan and Wiering test this notion by exploring same-sex practices through the experiences of real-life African couples.46 I believe the strength of their argument lies in their methodology, that is, orchestrating interviews with African women about female-to-female sexuality issues. It was assumed that these relationships were rare, but it is more likely that records were sullied with Western assumptions about female sexuality. Critiquing various 20th century research, they contend that women marriages have been recorded in about 40 African societies.47 This book is an interesting finding, showing first-hand testimonies as part of the African Women’s Life Stories Project. Participants from diverse backgrounds were given control over their own narrative which is a significant development in the scholarship of female-female sexualities in Africa. One of the by-products of this research was the formation of the African Lesbian Alliance now renamed the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) in which 11 countries are represented so far. On the flip side, one has to factor in that the book was conceptualised by two white women who referred to “the respondents in [their] project” as if the African participants were secondary subjects. 48

Ibid., p.67. Ibid., p.79. 41 Ibid., p.82. 42 Bongmba, E. K. (2015), “Hermeneutics and the Debate on Homosexuality in Africa”, Religion and Theology, 21(1-2), pp. 69-90. 43 Bultmann, R. (2007), Theology of the New Testament, Volume 1 & 2, Waco, TX: Baylor University Press. 44 Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books. 45 Nyanzi, S. (2013), “Dismantling reified African culture through localised homosexualities in Uganda”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(8). 46 Morgan, R. and Wieringa, S. (2005), “Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men, and Ancestral Wives: Female Same-sex Practices in Africa”, Culture Health & Sexuality, p.56. 47 Ibid. 48 Ibid., p.324 39 40


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One could argue that in spite of its rewards, the project was effectively crafted by the same dominant Western voices that overshadowed the important non-Western dialogues in the book. Albeit, Morgan is from South Africa, her white privilege makes her exempt from the power structures her non-white counterparts must navigate. The African women who conducted the interviews were given a training workshop by the co-editors, thereby subconsciously biasing their method of questioning. Therefore, however noble their intents, including shedding light on the spread of homophobia from European missionaries to relatively gay-friendly cultures, the problem with the end product was that it took a top-down approach. In contrast, Epprecht’s strength is his ability to guide the reader to a fuller understanding of the debate of homosexuality in Africa.49 He directly addresses people concerned with the “polarizing and stereotyping tendencies of the media and activist language”, but targets those in the West who are unaware of how complex the fight against homophobia and other forms of intolerance is in Africa.50 He champions the advocacy perspective, writing in support of the LGBT community in Africa, whilst simultaneously insisting that Africans themselves must shape their own responses. A viewpoint useful for my research was his analysis of ‘erotic justice’ developed by Elision and Kapur.5152 He pinpoints how erotic injustices “were at the heart of the colonial political economy” because they represented African sexualities as primitive, hence justifying colonial rule. 53 He suggests that erotic justice is a viable solution to address cultures which “over hundreds of years of unequal globalization” perpetuate gender, race and class inequalities.54 Furthermore, his attention to the broader political economy, including conversations around reproductive rights, gender-based violence, trafficking and the socio-political impact of HIV infections, helps put into perspective the global relevance of the topics discussed in this paper. In addition to this, Epprecht has an ongoing engagement with same-sex sexualities in Africa making his wealth of knowledge invaluable. For instance, in ‘Hungochani’ (2004) he reveals the roots of same-sex sexualities in Africa through archival documentation and in ‘Heterosexual Africa?’ (2008)

Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books. Ibid., p.11. 51 Ellision, M. M. (1996), Erotic Justice: A Liberating Ethic of Sexuality, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. 52 Kapur, R. (2005), Erotic Justice: Law and the New Politics of Postcolonialism, London: Glasshouse Press. 53 Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books, p.40. 54 Ibid., p.34. 49 50


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he demonstrates how institutionalised homophobia in Africa originates from colonial law, 5556 aided by science and religion. It is clear then that Epprecht’s thoughts align well with the general discussion of this dissertation. What became apparent in the process of this review was that several authors agree with the assertion that homophobia is an idea introduced by missionaries and colonialists and adopted by postcolonial leaders.575859 Nyanzi focuses her analysis on the homophobic language encoded within the AHB and disagrees with the idea that homosexuality threatens the traditional African family. 60 By unpacking the narrow culturalist arguments hidden with the legislation, she maintained that it was purely paternalistic and based off an illusory African culture characterised by an ambiguous, imagined, traditional heterosexual family. Epprecht coincides with this idea as he feels the arrival of colonial rule brought institutionalised homophobia into contemporary politics.61 Nyanzi believes the way in which the AHB galvanised and strengthened grassroot social movements like the Sexual Minorities Uganda Group (SMUG), created in 2004, was unanticipated.62 What is noble about her article was its ability to present the local level effects of the Ugandan legislation. In her view, defining threats to the ‘traditional African family’ gives currency to claims that homosexuality is a foreign imposition, adopted by poor, gullible and youthful locals. Unlike Morgan and Wieringa, 63 she noticeably does not have the effect of westernising the realities of the LGBT community because as a Ugandan medical anthropologist, feminist and queer rights activist, she is perhaps best placed to discuss African sexuality. Overall, I acknowledge that most literature pertaining to the discourse between homosexuality, religion and Africa is mostly Western scholars speaking largely to each other instead Epprecht, M. (2008), Heterosexual Africa?: The History of an Idea from the Age of Exploration to the Age of AIDS, Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. 56 Epprecht, M. (2004), Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, Montrealand Kingston: McGilleQueen’s University Press. 57 Morgan, R. and Wieringa, S. (2005), “Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men, and Ancestral Wives: Female Same-sex Practices in Africa”, Culture, Health & Sexuality. 58 Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books. 59 Nyanzi, S. (2013), “Dismantling reified African culture through localised homosexualities in Uganda”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(8). 60 Nyanzi, S. (2013), “Dismantling reified African culture through localised homosexualities in Uganda”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(8). 61 Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books. 62 Nyanzi, S. (2013), “Dismantling reified African culture through localised homosexualities in Uganda”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(8). 63 Morgan, R. and Wieringa, S. (2005), “Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men, and Ancestral Wives: Female Same-sex Practices in Africa”, Culture Health & Sexuality. 55


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of the audiences they ought to address. I do not dispute the promise which many of these studies have highlighted thus far, but I believe it is time the narrative was head speared by Africans who do not hold an interest other than to themselves, as Epprecht stated: “The idea that homosexuality is un-African owes a great deal to European and North American authors and propagandists who had their own interests in promoting that sweeping generalization, regardless of what Africans themselves had to say.”64

All things considered, I have found a clear indication of what I would like the discussion to consist of, that is, how the AHB found currency in contemporary Ugandan politics by using religion and the false threat to the nuclear African family structure. I also feel it is best placed within the existing literature, as it will analyse the explicit homophobic rhetoric in Uganda through a postcolonial lens. As I see it, few scholars have grasped the degree of nuance needed to examine such a complex issue, and even fewer have identified a need of doing so. This review addresses the works of most thinkers in this field but constraints and limited access to information meant that some facets were not explored. This does not exclude the possibility of studies taking a more comprehensive approach in the near future as there is still a divergence of opinion about what the future holds for the African LGBT community. Hypothesis – The White Man’s Disease This section is to consolidate my ideas on what I predict will occur once I decipher the ‘coded’ political language within the AHB. Having learnt from the literature review that there is evidence to support the three statements mentioned at the beginning of the previous chapter, my aim is to establish what I should expect to observe in the discussion. Inspired by Nyanzi’s investigation into the language behind the AHB, I wish to unravel Bhahati’s views and those of other African leaders about homosexuality in a descriptive and explanatory manner.65 Africa has the lowest levels of awareness with regards to male-to-male sex and yet enforces the most repressive laws against it, and I expect this is because Africa operates within strict religious frameworks.66

Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books, p.10. 65 Nyanzi, S. (2013), “Dismantling reified African culture through localised homosexualities in Uganda”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(8). 66 Capo-Chichi, V. and Kassegné, S. (2007), “Homosexuality in Africa: Myth or Reality? An Ethnographic Exploration in Togo, West Africa”, Paper presented at the 5th African Population Conference in Arusha, Tanzania. 64


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Understanding sexualities in Africa is not merely of interest for its own sake but I have identified it as a key developmental priority. In my view, development studies tend to understate the importance of sexuality to broaden questions of political and economic change. I disagree with Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai, who claims that: “This is an elitist debate when people have no food, when people have no jobs, when people have so many problems. It is a diversionary attitude, to try and put this issue at the focus of the nation is a real diversionary. There are more important issues to deal with.”67

On the contrary, by understanding the construction and contestation of African sexualities, we explore one way to understand the system of racial capitalism, which not only corrupts scholarship on and about Africa, but also arguably, under globalisation, now threatens the survival of the planet that all people share.68 Once you lift the lid of secrecy around same-sex sexuality in Africa, many striking stories emerge, as Morgan and Wieringa have explored, 69 that shed light upon a wide range of related non-elitist issues, including health and well-being. I imagine that a growing number of nationalist African leaders will support the AHB because of the way they adapted to the increasingly developing world surrounding them, which is, in part, a reaction from the lasting effects of colonial rule. Limakatso Kendall argues that homophobia, not homosexuality, is the real ‘white man’s disease’ and the imported, derogatory language used by these anti-homosexual Africans supports this claim.70 Above all, it seems pertinent to remember that this paper will prove the irony behind nonAfricans demonising Africans who have homophobic views when it could be said that they have learnt this behaviour from their past colonial masters. Theoretical Framework In this chapter I plan on establishing a theoretical framework which will be used to understand the power dynamics between ‘the West’ and Uganda. In keeping with my analysis, I draw from

Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books, p.5. Epprecht, M. (2004), Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, Montreal and Kingston: McGilleQueen’s University Press. 69 Morgan, R. and Wieringa, S. (2005), “Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men, and Ancestral Wives: Female Same-sex Practices in Africa”, Culture Health & Sexuality. 70 Kendall, K. L. (1999), “Women in Lesotho and the Western Construction of Homophobia”, in E. Blackwood and S. Wieringa (eds.), (1999), Same-Sex Relations and Female Desires: Transgender Practices across Cultures, New York: Columbia University Press, pp.157-178. 67 68


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postcolonial theories developed by Sugirtharajah7172 and Bhabha73 with final thoughts on Bongmba’s74 hermeneutics. I will also define the terms addressed in this paper and how they should be applied to this study. This includes ‘postcolonialism’, ‘the West’ and ‘Africa’. To help clarify my use of postcolonialism I turn to Sugirtharajah: “Postcolonialism is not simply a physical expulsion of imperial powers. Nor is it a recounting of the evils of the empire…[It] is a process of cultural and discursive emancipation from all dominant structures whether they be political, linguistic or ideological.”75

The concept involves a level of critique intended to unmask the totalising forms of Eurocentric thinking. In other words, postcolonial examination is an ideological movement which challenges western dominance. To engage in postcolonial discourse is to be confronted with two questions: 1. Should one blame earlier generations and make their present successors feel guilty for the misdeeds of their forebears? 2. What is wrong in regenerating, renovating, and civilising a people who was ‘living in darkness’?76 It is my belief that supporters of the first question are problematic within postcolonial theory. The goal is not to vilify the past but to recognise how one makes use of it and who benefits. Some critics argue that postcolonial theory is westernised and preoccupied with being “overflattering to the West”.77 The problem with homogenising the colonial experience is that it restricts the sheer diversity of colonial encounters that are too complicated to see as a single pattern. Sugirtharajah agrees that it is imperative that we challenge the oppressive nature of colonialism by recognising the potentiality of contact between coloniser and colonised, thereby distancing ourselves from earlier forms of postcolonial theory.78 I concur that postcolonialism’s specific usefulness lies in its capacity to detect

Sugirtharajah, R. S. (2002), Postcolonial Criticism and Biblical Interpretation, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sugirtharajah, R. S. (2003), Postcolonial Reconfigurations: An Alternative Way of Reading the Bible and Doing Theology, London: SCM Press. 73 Bhabha, H. K. (1994), The Location of Culture, London: Routledge. 74 Bongmba, E. K. (2015), “Hermeneutics and the Debate on Homosexuality in Africa”, Religion and Theology, 21(1-2), pp. 69-90. 75 Sugirtharajah, R. S. (2003), Postcolonial Reconfigurations: An Alternative Way of Reading the Bible and Doing Theology, London: SCM Press. 76 Sugirtharajah, R. S. (2002), Postcolonial Criticism and Biblical Interpretation, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 77 Colley, L. (2000), “Britain and Islam: 1600-1800: Different Perspectives on Difference”, Yale Review, 88(4), p.19. 78 Sugirtharajah, R. S. (2003), Postcolonial Reconfigurations: An Alternative Way of Reading the Bible and Doing Theology, London: SCM Press. 71 72


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oppression, expose misrepresentation, and to promote a fairer world rather than in its sophistry, precision, and its erudite qualities as a critical tool.79 The second question is an unusual reflection on the positive effects of colonialism few scholars register with. However, in his quest to unite colonialism with a Godly mission, Warren believed one had to appreciate the concrete examples of benefits colonialism brought to the natives. 80 For example, instead of being a citizen of a tribe that practices witchcraft, ritual murder and tribal warfare, colonial rule offered a chance for Africans to become citizens of the world. This coincides with Said’s thoughts on colonialism being the ‘civilising’ of indigenous people.81 Although Warren’s defence of an empire which brought “love, power and justice [to] some tragic situation” is an uncommon one, I argue that such views ignore the injustice behind imposing ideologies one considers as superior onto the ‘other’. 82 Todorov agrees that any civilisation with features that are superior or inferior “does not justify their being imposed on others”. 83 In all, I use these understandings of postcolonial theory because I know my investigations into the power dynamics between ‘the West’ and Uganda will involve thinking beyond the dichotomy of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and start to forge a different perspective. Next, I must explain the terms ‘the West’ and ‘Africa’. According to Said, ‘the West’ is a collective term which refers to the Western part of the world, namely, Europe and the USA.84 Although limiting in terms of diversity, my use of ‘Africa’ is, in part, incidental. I am aware that critics believe the very idea of Africa as a single entity is Eurocentric and that ‘Africa’ is a geographical accident.8586 Moreover, I understand that ‘Africa’ has been invested with a multitude of significations, diverse imaginary contents and by force of repetition which have ended up being authoritative narratives. Nonetheless, my purpose with this paper is not to explore controversies behind lexicons like ‘Africa’ but to target countries like Uganda who perpetuate the idea that homosexuality is unAfrican.

Colley, L. (2000), “Britain and Islam: 1600-1800: Different Perspectives on Difference”, Yale Review, 88(4), pp.1-20. Throckmorton, W. (2010), “A U.S. church and its 'kill the gays' partner in Uganda”, Salon, 2 July. 81 Said, E. W. (1993), Culture and Imperialism, London: Chatto & Windus, p.8. 82 Throckmorton, W. (2010), “A U.S. church and its 'kill the gays' partner in Uganda”, Salon, 2 July, p.31. 83 Todorov, T. (1992), The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other, New York: Harper Perennial, p.179. 84 Said, E. W. (1993), Culture and Imperialism, London: Chatto & Windus. 85 Mbembe, A. (2001), On the postcolony, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 86 Epprecht, M. (2004), Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, Montreal and Kingston: McGilleQueen’s University Press, p.4. 79 80


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As an important figure in postcolonial studies, Homi Bhabha has formulated key conceptual ideas on the dynamics between ‘the West’ and the colonised.87 Like Sugirtharajah, Bhabha is concerned with the similarities between the colonised and the coloniser. My interest lies in his idea of a ‘colonial identity’, that is, the hybrid strategy taken by the colonised as a way of responding to colonial rule.88 He argues that hybridity is the ‘in-between space’ in which the colonised translate or undo the binaries imposed by the colonial project. 89 A central aspect of the relationship between colonial power and former colonies is what Bhabha calls ‘mimicry’.90 The colonial subject mimics the dominant culture by adopting habits, institutions and values of the dominant culture. The result of the mimicry is never a clear reproduction, but rather an “almost but not quite” copy. 91 For my analysis on Uganda’s ‘colonial identity’ I expect to find links between past colonial laws and religious representations on homosexuality with current legislations like the AHB and homophobic rhetoric. This is because during the process of colonialism, long-standing religious prejudices have ebbed themselves into written laws which in turn have restricted the sexual lives of the Ugandan LGBT community. Epprecht mentions that the history of homophobia was this internalisation of hostility against same-sex relationships.92 Bongmba’s ideas on Christian hermeneutics stemmed from theologian Bultmann who believed didactic texts such as the Bible ought to be read within their historical contexts, completely divorced from the readers’ own existential situation.93 This means the Church should be discussing literature which focuses on socio-political issues of today, like sexual identity. Historical developments have given the Church new information about how human sexuality can be expressed in different ways and that there is nothing strange about samesex relationships.94 However, some dispute that any deviation would fatally corrupt the faith. To

Bhabha, H. K. (1994), The Location of Culture, London: Routledge. Sugirtharajah, R. S. (2003), Postcolonial Reconfigurations: An Alternative Way of Reading the Bible and Doing Theology, London: SCM Press. 89 Bhabha, H. K. (2000), “On Cultural Choice”, in M. Garber and R. L. Walkowitz (eds.), (2000), The Turn to Ethics, New York and London: Routledge, p.139. 90 Childs, P. and Williams, P. (1997), An Introduction to Post-Colonial Theory, Prentice Hall: Harvester Wheatsheaf, p.129. 91 Ibid., p.132 92 Epprecht, M. (2004), Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, Montreal and Kingston: McGilleQueen’s University Press. 93 Bongmba, E. K. (2015), “Hermeneutics and the Debate on Homosexuality in Africa”, Religion and Theology, 21(1-2), pp. 69-90. 94 Epprecht, M. (2009), “Sexuality, Africa, History”, The American Historical Review, 114(5), pp.1258-1272. 87 88


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critics, homosexuality is “the sin whose name should not be mentioned,” but nowadays, a new understanding of the scripture is needed.95 Discussion “It is ironic that an African dictator wearing a three-piece suit, caressing an iPhone, speaking in English and liberally quoting the Bible can dare indict anything for being un-African.” 96

This section will engage with the debate surrounding the so-called ‘White Man’s Disease’ through dissecting Bahati’s Anti-Homosexual Bill. As mentioned previously, this thesis tackles the assumption that homosexuality is un-African by examining Uganda’s unique links between postcolonial politics, sexuality and Christianity. This chapter will reveal the blinkered rhetoric behind homophobic laws like the AHB and uncover the perpetuated narrative that Africa is regressive because of its resistance to change. 1. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill In October 2009, David Bahati, an MP from the ruling party of President Yoweri Museveni, tabled an Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) calling for the death penalty for what he described as “aggravated homosexuality”.97 This is where a HIV-positive man would practice homosexuality with a disabled individual or a minor.98 At the time of the proposal, same-sex relations were already punishable by up to 14 years in prison.99 However, the extension of severity caused an international uproar to which Bahati responded: “The whole intention is to prevent the recruitment of under-age children, which is going on in single-sex schools. We must stop the recruitment and secure the future of our children.”100

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was a powerful magnet for newshounds and sexual rights activists alike. Some argued its justifications laid in myopic imaginings of a homogenous African-ness and African sexualities.101 Others believed the legislation was not really a legal matter, but a political

McNeill, J. (1977), The Church and the Homosexual, London: Darton, Longman & Todd, p.2. Tamale, S. (2014), “Homosexuality is not un-African”, Aljazeera America. 97 Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books, p.2. 98 Bongmba, E. K. (2015), “Hermeneutics and the Debate on Homosexuality in Africa”, Religion and Theology, 21(1-2), pp. 69-90. 99 Lauritsen, E. N. (2016), “Ugandan anti-gay laws have not curbed homosexuality”, Science Nordic, 26 April. 100 McVeigh, T. and Harris, P. (2009), “Anti-gay bigots plunge Africa into new era of hate crimes”, The Guardian, 13 December. 101 Nyanzi, S. (2013), “Dismantling reified African culture through localised homosexualities in Uganda”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(8). 95 96


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one since MPs leapt onto its popularity for their own survival. 102 This section will examine the irony behind the support for a homophobic law using post-colonial theory. According to Bahati, the objective of the AHB was to strengthen the nation’s capacity to deal with emergent threats to the ‘traditional heterosexual family’.103 Prof. Tamale agreed that protecting Ugandan children and youths who were vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation – whether the abuse was hetero- or homosexual – was crucial. However, she opposed the argument that homosexuality threatened the ‘traditional African family’ when there are just too many heterosexuals in the world for that to become a reality. In her opinion, the legislation would instead legalise homophobia by censoring human rights activists, academics and NGOs, and stifle the space of civil society.104 This is true as we have observed how the legislation’s language is encoded with assumptions of a specific African culture, and a seemingly perfect African family. Nyanzi likewise questions what criteria fulfil ‘the one traditional family’ in a country with over 50 ethnic groups, multiple colonial influences, westernisation, increasing globalisation and distinct religions.105 For example, the local Ugandan heterosexual family may include child-brides, forced marriages, sexual and gender-based violence, and marital rape. In short, heterosexual families may not be as unproblematic as one wishes but instead have their own gross violations. The irony behind this argument is that Uganda created this idea of a traditional African family in the first place. One could argue that it was invented traditions – whether invented by Europeans or by Africans themselves – which distorted their representations of families. Much like what Bhabha calls ‘mimicry’, the Ugandan government is reflecting past colonial versions of itself. My issue is that the bill was an attempt to protect the “cherished culture of the people of Uganda” from those who seek to impose their values of sexual promiscuity. 106 Such patronising protectionism is evident in this rhetoric. Akin to erasures of the vast array of traditions in Uganda, the bill hinges on narrow culturalist arguments.107 I believe African elites have invested in taking positions against homosexuality because they feel the debate is foreign to them. Bishop Benjamin Kwashi of

Houttuin, S. (2015), “Gay Ugandans face a new threat from anti-homosexuality law”, The Guardian, 6 January. Bahati, D. (2009), “The Anti-Homosexuality Bill”, Uganda Gazette CII47. 104 Tamale, S. (2009), “A Human Rights Impact Assessment of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009”, The Equal Rights Review, pp.49-57. 105 Nyanzi, S. (2013), “Dismantling reified African culture through localised homosexualities in Uganda”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(8). 106 Bahati, D. (2009), “The Anti-Homosexuality Bill”, Uganda Gazette CII47. 107 Nyanzi, S. (2013), “Dismantling reified African culture through localised homosexualities in Uganda”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(8). 102 103


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Nigeria said that many Africans felt “oppressed with this Western problem”. 108 But I argue antihomosexuality positions in Africa derive these excuses from the legacies of colonialism and a Christian universalism, which was grudgingly imposed on them. 2. Colonialism, the Church and Homosexuality If we believe Ellis’ and Haar’s claim that it is largely through religion that Africans think about the world today, then one could argue that those 19 th century Christian missionaries were akin to Uganda’s future colonial masters.109 The AHB is possibly the first of its kind which uses religion to pass legislation that discriminates against a small section of the political community. 110 This is telling of how significant colonialism was to still have an impact on behaviour of African leaders. The deep revulsion against homosexuality continued to be worded into legislation even after Uganda gained independence, which disputes the claim that colonialism and religion had a hand in Uganda’s homophobia. There was clearly an emphasis on homosexuality as a uniquely horrible and threatening crime in Uganda for other reasons. Not only were male-male sexual assaults indecent, lascivious, and abominable by definition, but they were contrary to the order of nature. The African Ecclesial Review published an issue in which they argued that homosexuality was un-African, antiscriptural, and a taboo subject because it is not a sexual norm and goes against biblical principles. 111 But, as Tamale claimed, this idea of unnatural homosexuals originated from colonialists.112 The otherisation of African sexuality also played a key role in Uganda’s homophobic internalisation. Epprecht insisted that the Europeans needed to assert their dominance and so enforced their sexual ideals, which turned African sexuality into a strict dichotomy: “We (civilised) are not like Them (savage, polygynous) and therefore are more qualitied to rule than They are”. 113 This resulted in a series of postcolonial laws which effectively state-sanctioned homophobia. I concur with Ugandan sexual rights activist, Kalende, who believes the future for Uganda is decriminalisation: “to rid

Hoad, N. W. (2007), African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, p.60. 109 Gerrieter, H. and Ellis, S. (2004), Worlds of Power: Religious Thought and Political Practice in Africa, London: Hurst & Co. 110 Bongmba, E. K. (2015), “Hermeneutics and the Debate on Homosexuality in Africa”, Religion and Theology, 21(1-2), pp. 69-90. 111 Nabushawo, J. C. (2004), “Editorial”, African Ecclesial Review, 46, p.293. 112 Tamale, S. (2009), “A Human Rights Impact Assessment of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009”, The Equal Rights Review, pp.49-57. 113 Epprecht, M. (2004), Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, Montreal and Kingston: McGilleQueen’s University Press. 108


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ourselves of the laws our colonial masters imposed on us”.114 Yet, it is unlikely that the Ugandan government will consider passing a law as long as they see same-sex sexuality as an “imported lifestyle” destroying Ugandan culture.115 Critics of the AHB claimed that anti-homosexuality in Africa was driven by zealous American evangelical missionaries. Among them were American pastor Scott Lively and Rick Warren, who were tied to prominent political and religious leaders in Uganda and were blamed for lobbying politicians prior to the legislative proposal.116117 In their mission to convert Ugandans to share their highly conservative views, these evangelists have pushed Uganda’s AHB. 118 It is said that the economic decline in African countries created a new wave of missions by Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) and Faith Based Organisations (FBOs). Some Ugandan pastors are connected to these networks, admitting that about “99% of their support comes from the US”.119 For example, pastor Ssempa reportedly received US $60,000 from a church in Columbia, Maryland to buy land and build his church in Kampala.120 This leads me to think that a new dangerous form of neo-colonialism is at work between religious ministries in the US and Uganda. Since the majority of churches in the West hold anti-homosexual views, African pastors are pressured into doing the same or risk losing their benefactors. The secretary general of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Renato Sabbadini agrees, saying: “What we’re seeing is that this surge of homophobia is being encouraged by an active influence of foreign sources…These evangelists are finding that homophobia is a sort of visiting card which will aid in getting more people to convert to their own version of Christianity.”121

Despite this, several Christian African leaders have stood up to defend victims of homophobic hatred. Former Anglican Bishop Christopher Ssenyonja was against the proposed AHB and critical of American missionaries’ homophobic interpretations of the Bible, specifically those framing their

Mpubani, R. and Croom, P. (2011), “Beyond the International Outcry: Is Uganda as Homophobic as They Say?”, Daily Monitor. 115 Morgan, R. and Nagadya, M. (2005), “Some Say I am a Hermaphrodite Just Because I Put on Trousers: Lesbians and Tommy Boys in Kampala, Uganda”, in R. Morgan and S. Wieringa (eds.), (2005), Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men, and Ancestral Wives: Female Same-sex Practices in Africa, Johannesburg: Jacana Media, p.65. 116 Blake, M. (2014), “Meet the American Pastor Behind Uganda's Anti-Gay Crackdown”, Mother Jones, 10 March. 117 Bongmba, E. K. (2015), “Hermeneutics and the Debate on Homosexuality in Africa”, Religion and Theology, 21(1-2), pp. 69-90. 118 Blake, M. (2014), “Meet the American Pastor Behind Uganda's Anti-Gay Crackdown”, Mother Jones, 10 March. 119 Rice, A. (2004), “Enemy's Enemy”, New Republic. 120 Bongmba, E. K. (2015), “Hermeneutics and the Debate on Homosexuality in Africa”, Religion and Theology, 21(1-2), pp. 69-90. 121 Ayandunmi, L. (2012), “Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill on hold but gay campaigners fear the worst”, Metro, 19 December. 114


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argument on the ‘sin of Sodom and Gomorrah’. Reverend Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican minister from Zambia, is another important leader who has written eloquently on the threat posed to Africans by the American Christian right.122 Evidently, Christianity has a major influence on the Ugandan population. According to a 2002 census, 85.2 percent of the Ugandan population adheres to various Christian denominations. 123 The huge growth of churches means they have become a prominent feature of Uganda’s religious landscape. Most Pentecostal churches condemn homosexuality and often base their arguments on moral principles regarding sexuality and religious ethics. However, if we consider Christian norms and values as Western imports, authentic African tradition is, in fact, imagined rather than real. 124 3. Limitations: Conflicting perceptions of homosexuality So far, the general discussion on the discourse between homosexuality and African politics has not addressed the conflicting perceptions of homosexuality in Uganda, notably that homosexuality is a ‘gay disease’ spreading illnesses. This interesting idea was raised by Bongmba who described Africa’s fear of a “gay agenda”,125 where homosexuality is being encouraged among heterosexuals, subsequently causing the spread of HIV/AIDS. In 2008, pastor Martin Ssempa of Kampala opposed attempts to include LGBT members into the country’s HIV/AIDS program. He stated categorically: “Homosexuals should absolutely not be included in Uganda’s HIV/AIDS framework. It is a crime, and when you are trying to stamp out a crime you don’t include it in your programmes”.126 This is despite research finding no inherent association between sexual orientations, psychopathology and sexual health. There is no conclusive study, other than speculation, which suggests homosexuality causes diseases such as AIDS. What is true, however, is the overwhelming evidence of predominantly heterosexual transmission in subSaharan Africa. Conclusion

Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books. Pew Research Forum (2013), The Global Divide on Homosexuality: Greater acceptance in More Secular and Affluent Countries. 124 Hoad, N. W. (2007), African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 125 Bongmba, E. K. (2015), “Hermeneutics and the Debate on Homosexuality in Africa”, Religion and Theology, 21(1-2), pp. 69-90. 126 Throckmorton, W. (2010), “A U.S. church and its 'kill the gays' partner in Uganda”, Salon, 2 July. 122 123


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“The scramble for Africa may be over, but the struggle for her history, her art, her literature and her children rages on unabated.”127

In this thesis, I have analysed the proliferation of homophobic rhetoric in Uganda through a post-colonial lens. I maintain that Christian missionary activities and colonialism have had a strong influence on Uganda’s perceptions of same-sex relations and ultimately led to the Anti-Homosexual Bill. In my findings, there were clear links between dominant discriminatory discourses, conservative interpretations of religion and a forged homogenised African culture within the legislation. In examining the most recent form of colonialism, I have come across American evangelists who promote the same homophobic language in hopes to recruit members into their version of Christianity. I also uncovered why homosexuality was considered un-African and a threat to traditional families, and proven that a number of Ugandan leaders support homophobia largely out of religious reasons imported from the West. Sexuality in Uganda continues to be a difficult topic to discuss and this bill has only heightened a culture of extreme, violent homophobia. The death of prominent gay activist David Kato was not the beginning of the country’s issues with homosexuality but is certainly a result of state-sanctioned homophobia.128 On the occasion that Africa has the agency to discuss its post-colonial identity, Western academia has overshadowed what could potentially be a reconciliation between the past and present. The problem is that the West fails to understand the context under which these African nations operate.129 As such, I am in agreement with scholars who assert that in order for African nations to develop, they must revisit their respective ‘colonial identities’. Oloka-Onyango suggests that: “...Ugandan societies were and are basically pluralist and polyetheist. It is those qualities that we need to harness, revisit and reintroduce into the contemporary structures of the forces governing sexual politics in the country, and into our strategies for addressing homophobia and heterosexism.”130

Finally, there are a number of limitations to these discussions which future researchers should aim to resolve. Due to lack of access to information on archival data regarding missionary activities in Uganda, this paper’s findings are incomplete. One aspect I neglected to examine was the role of globalisation in Uganda’s political discourse with homosexuality. Further research regarding the

Nozipo, M. J. (1996), Zenzele: A Letter for my Daughter, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, p.79. Gettleman, J. (2011), “Ugandan Who Spoke Up for Gays Is Beaten to Death”, New York Times, 28 January. 129 Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books. 130 Oloka-Onyango, J. (2012), We are More than Just Our Bodies: HIV/AIDS and the Human Rights Complexities Affecting Young Women who have sex with women in Uganda, HURIPEC Working Paper, Kampala: Human Rights and Peace Centre, p.109. 127 128


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dynamics of aid would also be relevant, particularly withholding aid as an economic sanction. This is not to say this dissertation was not useful, but word limits and time constraints mean I was only able to analyse a fraction of what potentially could be studied in a variety of ways. References Anderson, B. (2007), “The Politics of Homosexuality in Africa”, Africana, 1, pp.123-126. American Psychological Association (2008), “Answers to your questions for a better understanding of sexual orientation and homosexuality”, Washington DC. Available at: www.apa.org/topics/sorientation.pdf, (Accessed: 28 March 2019). Apter, D. (1961), The Political Kingdom in Uganda: A Study of Bureaucratic Nationalism, Princeton: Princeton University. Ayandunmi, L. (2012), “Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill on hold but gay campaigners fear the worst”, Metro, 29 December. Available at: http://metro.co.uk/2012/12/19/ugandasantihomosexuality-bill-on-hold-but-gay-campaigners-fear-the-worst-3321844, (Accessed: 20 March 2019). Bahati, D. (2009), “The Anti-Homosexuality Bill”, Uganda Gazette CII47. Belvins, J. (2012), “When Sodomy Leads to Martyrdom: Sex, Religion, and Politics in Historical and Contemporary Contexts in Uganda and East Africa”, Theology and Sexuality, 17(1), pp.51-74. Bhabha, H.K. (1994), The Location of Culture, London: Routledge. Bhabha, H.K. (2000), “On Cultural Choice”, in M. Garber and R. L. Walkowitz (eds.), (2000), The Turn to Ethics, New York and London: Routledge Blake, M. (2014), “Meet the American Pastor Behind Uganda's Anti-Gay Crackdown”, Mother Jones, 10 March. Available at: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/scott-lively-anti-gay-lawuganda, (Accessed: 20 March 2019). Bongmba, E. K. (2015), “Hermeneutics and the Debate on Homosexuality in Africa”, Religion and Theology, 21(1-2), pp. 69-90. Bultmann, R. (2007), Theology of the New Testament, Volume 1 & 2. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press. Warren, M. C. A. (1955), “Caesar: The Beloved Enemy: Three Studies in the Relation of Church and State”, The Reinecker Lectures at the Virginia Thelogical Seminary, London: SCM Press Ltd. Cadigan, J. R. (1998), “Woman-to-woman marriage: Practices and benefits in Sub-Saharan Africa”, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 29(1), pp. 89-98. Available at: https://media.smith.edu/media/assistivetech/atlibrary/cardigan_woman.pdf, (Accessed: 18 March 2019). Capo-Chichi, V. and Kassegné, S. (2007), “Homosexuality in Africa: Myth or Reality? An Ethnographic Exploration in Togo, West Africa”, Paper presented at the 5th African Population Conference in Arusha, Tanzania. Available at: https://uaps2007.princeton.edu/papers/70562, (Accessed: 18 March 2019).


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Childs, P. and Williams, P. (1997), An Introduction to Post-Colonial Theory, Prentice Hall: Harvester Wheatsheaf. Colley, L. (2000), “Britain and Islam: 1600-1800: Different Perspectives on Difference”, Yale Review, 88(4), pp.1-20. Ellision, M. M. (1996), Erotic Justice: A Liberating Ethic of Sexuality, Louisville, KY: Westminister John Knox Press. Epprecht, M. (2004), Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa, Montreal & Kingston: McGille-Queen’s University Press. Epprecht, M. (2008), Heterosexual Africa: The history of an idea from the age of exploration to the age of AIDS, Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. Epprecht, M. (2009), “Sexuality, Africa, History”, The American Historical Review, 114(5), pp.1258-1272. Epprecht, M. (2013), Sexuality & Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia & Forging Resistance, London: Zed Books. Gettleman, J. (2011), “Ugandan Who Spoke Up for Gays Is Beaten to Death”, New York Times, 28 January. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/world/africa/28uganda.html, (Accessed: 19 March 2019). Guma, P. (2016), “Narratives of ‘saints’ and ‘sinners’ in Uganda: Contemporary (re)presentations of the 1886 story of Mwanga and Ganda ‘martyrs’”, Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa. Haar, G. and Ellis, S. (2004), Worlds of Power: Religious Thought and Political Practice in Africa, London: Hurst & Co. Hoad, N. W. (2007), African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality and Globalization, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Houttuin, S. (2015), “Gay Ugandans face a new threat from anti-homosexuality law”, The Guardian, 6 January. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/06/-sp-gay-ugandansface-new-threat-from-anti-homosexuality-law, (Accessed: 20 March 2019). Jarosz, L. (1992), “Constructing the Dark Continent: Metaphor as Geographic Representation of Africa”, Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 74(2), pp.105-111. Kapur, R. (2005), Erotic Justice: Law and the New Politics of Postcolonialism, London: Glasshouse Press. Kendall, L. K. (1999), “Women in Lesotho and the Western Construction of Homophobia”, in E. Blackwood and S. Wieringa (eds.), Same-Sex Relations and Female Desires: Transgender Practices across Cultures, New York: Columbia University Press, pp.157-178. Klinken, V.A. (2018), “Beyond African religious homophobia: How Christianity is a source of African LGBT activism”, LSE Religion and Global Society. Available at: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionglobalsociety/2018/07/beyond-african-religious-homophobiahow-christianity-is-a-source-of-african-lgbt-activism/, (Accessed: 19 March 2019).


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Lauritsen, N. E. (2016), “Ugandan anti-gay laws have not curbed homosexuality”, Science Nordic, 26 April. Available at: http://sciencenordic.com/ugandan-anti-gay-laws-have-not-curbedhomosexuality, (Accessed: 19 March 2019). Lliffe, J. (2005), Honour in African History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lwanga-Lunyiigo, S. (2011), Mwanga II: Resistance to imposition of British colonial rule in Buganda, 18841899, Kampala: Wavah Books. Nozipo, M. J. (1996), Zenzele: A Letter for my Daughter, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Mbembe, A. (2001), On the postcolony, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. McNeill, J. (1977), The Church and the Homosexual, London: Darton, Longman & Todd. McVeigh, T. and Harris, P. (2009), “Anti-gay bigots plunge Africa into new era of hate crimes”, The Guardian, 13 December. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/dec/13/death-penalty-uganda-homosexuals, (Accessed: 19 March 2019). Morgan, R. and Nagadya, M. (2005), “Some Say I am a Hermaphrodite Just Because I Put on Trousers: Lesbians and Tommy Boys in Kampala, Uganda”, in R. Morgan and S. Wieringa (eds.), Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men, and Ancestral Wives: Female Same-sex Practices in Africa, Johannesburg: Jacana Media, pp.65-75. Morgan, R. and Wieringa, S. (2005), “Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men, and Ancestral Wives: Female Samesex Practices in Africa”, Culture Health & Sexuality, p.56. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/4005456.pdf?refreqid=search%3Adc429575e6b891db7dcfe 1b563bb6a37, (Accessed: 19 March 2019). Mpubani, R. and Croom, P. (2011), “Beyond the International Outcry: Is Uganda as Homophobic as They Say?”, Daily Monitor. Available at: https://www.monitor.co.ug/artsculture/Reviews/691232-1279912-12j45y5z/index.html, (Accessed: 19 March 2019). Murray, S. O. and Roscoe, W. (1998), “Africa and African homosexualities: An Introduction”, in S. O. Murray and W. Roscoe (eds.), (1998), Boy Wives and Female Husbands: Studies of African Homosexualities, New York: St Martin’s Press, pp.1-18. Nabushawo, J. C. (2004), “Editorial”, African Ecclesial Review, 46, p.293. Nullis, C. (2006), “Same Sex Marriage Law Takes Effect in S. Africa”, The Washington Post, 30 November. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2006/11/30/AR2006113001370.html??noredirect=on, (Accessed: 20 March 2019). Nyanzi, S. (2013), “Dismantling reified African culture through localised homosexualities in Uganda”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 15(8), pp.952-967. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13691058.2013.798684?needAccess=true, (Accessed: 19 March 2019).


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Oloka-Onyango, J. (2012), We are More than Just Our Bodies: HIV/AIDS and the Human Rights Complexities Affecting Young Women who have sex with women in Uganda, HURIPEC Working Paper, Kampala, Uganda: Human Rights and Peace Centre, p.109. Pew Research Forum (2013), The Global Divide on Homosexuality: Greater acceptance in More Secular and Affluent Countries, Available at: http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/06/04/the-global-divide-onhomosexuality/#fn-27120-1, (Accessed: 18 March 2019). Ranger, T. (1983), “The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa”, in E. Hobshawn and T. Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.211-262. Reddy, V. (2009), “Perverts and Sodomites: Homophobia as Hate Speech in Africa”, Southern African Linguistics Applied Langage Studies, 20(3), pp.163-175. Rice, A. (2004), “Enemy’s Enemy”, New Republic. Available at: https://newrepublic.com/article/62165/enemys-enemy, (Accessed: 19 March 2019). Said, E. W. (1993), Culture and Imperialism, London: Chatto & Windus. Sugirtharajah, R. S. (2002), Postcolonial Criticism and Biblical Interpretation, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sugirtharajah, R. S. (2003), Postcolonial Reconfigurations: An Alternative Way of Reading the Bible and Doing Theology, London: SCM Press. Tamale, S. (2009), “A Human Rights Impact Assessment of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009”, The Equal Rights Review, pp.49-57. Available at: https://constitutionallyspeaking.co.za/prof-sylvia-tamale-a-human-rights-assessment-of-the-antihomosexuality-bill-in-uganda, (Accessed: 19 March 2019). Tamale, S. (2011), African Sexualities: A Reader, Oxford: Pambazuka Press. Tamale, S. (2014), “Homosexuality is not un-African”, Aljazeera America. Available at: http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/4/homosexualityafricamuseveniugandanigeriaethiopia.html, (Accessed: 19 March 2019). Thoonen, J. P. (1941), Black Martyrs, London: Sheed & Ward. Throckmorton, W. (2010), “A U.S. church and its 'kill the gays' partner in Uganda”, Salon, 2 July. Available at: https://www.salon.com/2010/07/02/church_uganda_gays_bill, (Accessed: 19 March 2019). Todorov, T. (1992), The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other, New York: Harper Perennial. Ward, K. (2002), “Same-Sex Relations in Africa and the Debate on Homosexuality in East African Anglicanism”, Angelican Theological Review, 84(1), pp.81-111.


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An analysis of the influence of inclusion and austerity in SEND policy in England since 2010

Daniel Ramsell, 3rd Year Essay BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy and Economics

Abstract: This dissertation looks at the influence of inclusion and austerity in policy for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in England since 2010. It is found that since 2010, the government has promoted a policy of inclusion for children with the most severe and complex SEND. This has resulted in an increase in the number of children with Education, Health and Social Care plans placed into special education institutions. The dissertation also finds that there is a funding crisis in the SEND system in England, with an expected £1.2 to £1.6 billion deficit in high needs spending by 2021. 1 It is also found that the overall experience of education for children with SEND in England is comparatively poor in relation to those without SEND. This is concluded with reference to the Ofsted annual report for 2017/18.

Contents Section I: Introduction ............................................................................................................... Section II: Literature Review ....................................................................................................... 1. Inclusion ......................................................................................................................... 2. Austerity......................................................................................................................... Section III: Analysis................................................................................................................... 1. Current SEND policy in England ............................................................................................ 2. Inclusion ......................................................................................................................... 3. Statistics ......................................................................................................................... 4. SEND Funding.................................................................................................................. 5. Funding crisis ................................................................................................................... 6. Impact on SEND policy ....................................................................................................... Section IV: Conclusion .............................................................................................................. References .............................................................................................................................

Parish, N. et al. (2018), “Have we reached a ‘tipping point’? Trends in spending for children and young people with SEND in England”, Local Government Association. 1


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Section I: Introduction The research question of this dissertation will be: To what extent have inclusion and austerity influenced policy for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in England since 2010? The resulting analysis, therefore, will consider SEND policy under the Conservative-led governments since 2010. I have chosen to restrict my analysis to the education system in England rather than the whole of the UK. This is because education is a devolved matter for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and there are significant differences between the respective education systems.2 Focusing on England will therefore avoid any potential difficulties in comparison that could arise from different schooling structures and legislation. Specifically, I have focused on two key policy approaches in depth: austerity and inclusion. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the UK government has been committed to a policy of ‘austerity’ aimed at reducing the deficit of a government’s budget, in order to reduce its level of debt.3 This contrasts with the attitudes towards public spending of the Labour governments from 1997 to 2010. The literature suggests the Labour governments of this period had a more liberal attitude towards public spending. I will therefore be investigating whether decreased public spending has had any influence on SEND policy in England. Inclusion has been the dominant attitude behind SEND policy in England up to 2010. The definition of ‘inclusion’ for educational purposes is contested but can generally be separated into two distinct definitions, explored in Section II. Significantly, the 2010 Conservative Party manifesto stated a commitment to “end the bias towards inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream education”.4 This dissertation, therefore, will also determine the extent to which this commitment was realised and its effects. Section II: Literature Review 1. Inclusion There is an extensive literature focusing on the theme of ‘inclusion’ in education policy for children and young people with SEND. This was the dominant theme in education policy for students with SEND, prior to 2010. Arduin argues that “inclusion has been the concept à la mode in the BBC News (2017), “Election 2017: A short guide to devolution in the UK”, 19 May. Burton, M. (2016), The Politics of Austerity: A Recent History, London: Palgrave Macmillan, p.84. 4 Conservative Party (2010), Invitation to join the government of Britain, p.309. 2 3


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international community and, in particular, within Western societies (since the 1990s)”. 5 Farrell describes the significance of the Salamanca Agreement6 as “arguably the most significant international document that has ever appeared in the field of special education”.7 Conner explains that this report, issued by the United Nations, stressed that “all children with SEND should be able to access mainstream schooling and that it was the responsibility of schools to adjust to meet their needs”.8 Likewise, English scholars cite the importance of the 1997 Special Educational Needs Green Paper, which according to Norwich introduced “the term ‘inclusive education’[...] into Government policy (for the first time)”.9 In relation to the research question, the above discussion suggests inclusion is a significant factor to consider for our analysis of SEND education policy. A key issue within the literature focuses on the definition of inclusion. This issue is evident in the House of Commons Education and Skills Committee’s third report on SEN, which found that “there is considerable confusion over the term inclusion with a wide range of meanings applied to the term”.10 Farrell explores this problem in greater detail and argues for two separate definitions. The first of these focuses on “the placement of children with special needs in mainstream schools”, 11 as opposed to their placement in special schools. The second definition focuses on the “quality of education offered to pupils with SEN”.12 Arduin suggests “the question of ‘where’ the child should be educated seems to have taken priority over ‘how’ [they] should be educated in England”. 13 Farrell supports this, arguing that: “the idea that there has been a bias towards inclusion [...] is evident in Labour government documents (1997-2010) [...] which instructed local authorities to place all children with SEN in mainstream schools, provided certain conditions were met”. 14 This has important Arduin, S. (2015), “A review of the values that underpin the structure of an education system and its approach to disability and inclusion”, Oxford Review of Education, 41(1), p.115. 6 Unesco (1994), The Salamanca Statement and Framework for action on special needs education: adopted by the World Conference on Special Needs Education, p.17. 7 Farrell, P. (2012), “Inclusive education for children with special educational needs: current uncertainties and future directions”, in D. Armstrong and G. Squires (eds.), (2012), Contemporary Issues in Special Educational Needs: Considering The Whole Child, London: McGraw-Hill Education, p.35. 8 Conner, L. (2016), “Reflections on inclusion: how far have we come since Warnock and Salamanca?”, Research in Teacher Education, 6(1), p.20. 9 Norwich, B. (2014), “Changing policy and legislation and its effects on inclusive and special education: a perspective from England”, British Journal of Special Education, 41(4), pp.412-413. 10 House of Commons Education and Skills Committee (2006), “Special Educational Needs: Third Report of Session 2005-06”, London: The Stationery Office Limited, p.22. 11 Farrell, P. (2012), “Inclusive education for children with special educational needs: current uncertainties and future directions”, in D. Armstrong and G. Squires (eds.), (2012), Contemporary Issues in Special Educational Needs: Considering The Whole Child, London: McGraw-Hill Education, p.41. 12 Ibid. 13 Arduin, S. (2015), “A review of the values that underpin the structure of an education system and its approach to disability and inclusion”, Oxford Review of Education, 41(1), p.115. 14 Farrell, P. (2012), “Inclusive education for children with special educational needs: current uncertainties and future directions”, in D. Armstrong and G. Squires (eds.), (2012), Contemporary Issues in Special Educational Needs: Considering The Whole Child, London: McGraw-Hill Education, p.41. 5


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implications for our research question, as we can investigate whether this remains the case for key policy documents since 2010. Hodkinson takes issue with this first definition because it focuses primarily on “locational inclusion”.15 This links to the Warnock Report, which recognised that inclusion could be differentiated between physical, social and functional ‘integration’. ‘Social’ integration relates to how a child with SEN interacts with their peers in a school environment whilst ‘functional’ integration occurs when the achievement of both physical and social integration leads to “joint participation in educational programmes”.16 The literature focuses more on the second definition that Farrell outlines. 17 This is most evident in a key piece of literature written by Mary Warnock, chair of the 1978 report, in 2010, which argues that the ideal of inclusion should be reconsidered: “instead of the simplistic ideal of including all children ‘under the same roof’ we should consider the ideal of including all children [...] wherever they learn best”.18 This is because the needs of some SEND children are “more effectively met in separate institutions [...] [because] children are known well by their teachers and are not as vulnerable to bullying as they [...] are in mainstream schools”. 19 This latter point is important, as Cappadocia et al. found that victimisation rates for children diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) are twice as high as in the general population.20 Hence, there is recognition within the literature that mainstream education is not optimal for all children with SEND. This links to the findings of Baker, who finds that special schools have a distinct role in the English education system, in educating children with the most severe special educational needs.21 This discussion has important implications for our research question, as we can analyse the influence of this second definition of inclusion in key policy documents.

Hodkinson, A. (2011), “Inclusion: a defining definition?”, Power and Education, 3(2), p.180. Warnock, M. (1978), “Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People”, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, p.101. 17 Farrell, P. (2012), “Inclusive education for children with special educational needs: current uncertainties and future directions”, in D. Armstrong and G. Squires (eds.), (2012), Contemporary Issues in Special Educational Needs: Considering The Whole Child, London: McGraw-Hill Education, p.41. 18 Warnock, M. (2010), “Special Educational Needs: A New Look”, in L. Terzi, B. Norwich and M. Warnock, (eds.), (2010), Special Educational Needs: A New Look, 2nd edition, London: Continuum International Publishing Group, pp.13-14. 19 Ibid. 20 Cappadocia, C. et al. (2012), “Bullying Experiences Among Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders”, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(2), p.274. 21 Baker, J. (2007), “The British Government’s strategy for SEN: implications for the role and future development of special schools”, In Support for Learning, 22(2), p.74. 15 16


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Labour governments from 1997 to 2010 were committed to a policy of ‘inclusion’ for SEND pupils.22 However, there are also other factors limiting Labour’s inclusion policy. For instance, Labour’s ‘standard agenda’, via initiatives such as the National Literacy Strategy, took precedence over their policy of inclusion.23 Further, Bhopal and Myers highlight that some parents have removed their children from schools because schools lack the resources to meet their children’s needs.24 Likewise, others argue that the competitive nature of schools is incompatible with SEND education, suggesting that labelling a child with SEND can be “viewed as a euphemism for failure”.25 This discussion has important implications for our research question because it highlights the interplay between inclusion and other factors within the education system such as funding. Finally, the 2010 Conservative Party Manifesto stated an aim to “call a moratorium on the ideologically-driven closure of special schools [...] [and] end the bias towards the inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream schools”.26 However, this slogan “came to be dropped when subjected to political, professional and voluntary sector scrutiny”.27 Despite this, the Coalition government (2010/2015) introduced the Children and Families Act in 2014, which Norwich and Eaton describe as “the first significant change to [...] SEN [...] legislation in England for over a decade”.28 Yet, the scarce literature that does exist on this new legislation focuses on the changes the new legislation introduced. For instance, it has been argued that “much of what was proposed was not ‘radically new’, but involved extending, integrating and tightening up existing principles and practices”.29 The focus on the importance of inclusion in the implementation of this policy, however, is under-developed within the literature. The relevant statistics for SEND are relatively accessible.

Farrell, P. (2012), “Inclusive education for children with special educational needs: current uncertainties and future directions”, in D. Armstrong and G. Squires (eds.), (2012), Contemporary Issues in Special Educational Needs: Considering The Whole Child, London: McGraw-Hill Education, p.41. 23 Squires, G. (2012), “Historical and socio-political agendas around defining and including children with special educational needs”, in D. Armstrong and G. Squires (eds.), (2012), Contemporary Issues in Special Educational Needs: Considering The Whole Child, London: McGraw-Hill Education, p.20. 24 Bhopal, K. and Myers, M. (2018), “Special educational needs and disability: ‘most schools don’t want and have never wanted our children’”, Home Schooling and Home Education: Race, Class and Inequality, London: Routledge, p.99. 25 Barton, L. and Slee, R. (1999), “Competition, selection and inclusive education: some observations”, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 3(1), p.7. 26 Conservative Party (2010), Invitation to join the government of Britain, p.309. 27 Norwich, B. (2014), “Changing policy and legislation and its effects on inclusive and special education: a perspective from England”, British Journal of Special Education, 41(4), p.415. 28 Norwich, B. and Eaton, A. (2015), “The new special educational needs (SEN) legislation in England and implications for services for children and young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties”, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 20(2), p.117. 29 Ibid., p.119. 22


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Our analysis of inclusion will therefore derive from the latest statistical releases by the Department for Education (2018) and a working paper by Gillooly and Riddell.30 2. Austerity There is a rich literature on the policy of austerity pursued by the UK government since 2010. This policy aimed to reduce the structural deficit of the government’s budget and its high levels of debt.31 A structural deficit refers to the amount of over-spend that would exist if the economy was operating at its full potential.32 Some suggest that the government aimed to achieve this reduction in the structural deficit via “a programme of public spending cuts and tax increases”.33 Moreover, others explain that “UK austerity policy focused on across-the-board budget cuts to almost all government departments”.34 This suggests that, in relation to our research question, we might expect a decline in spending for SEND policy since 2010. The literature predominantly focuses on the implications of these cuts in public spending; considerations on the impact of austerity on SEND policy in England are relatively under-developed. Austerity represented a step change from pre-2010 attitudes towards public spending. Prior to 2010, Labour governments were committed to high levels of public spending, in particular in relation to health and education.353637 Some suggest that spending cuts have hit some government departments harder than others, revealing that “the largest cuts between 2010 and 2015 fell upon [...] local government [...] which lost over half its funding”.38 This highlights that the burden has not been shared evenly: “more deprived areas tend to correlate with bigger cuts in service spending. This pattern is clearest in England”. 39 This has important implications for our research question, because local authorities have a duty to provide special educational provision for children with Education, Health and Social Care (EHC) plans. 40 On Gillooly, A. and Riddell, S. (2019), “Autonomy, Rights and Children with Special Needs: A New Paradigm? An overview of statistics on SEN in England and ASN in Scotland”, Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity. 31 Burton, M. (2016), The Politics of Austerity: A Recent History, London: Palgrave Macmillan, p.84. 32 Radice, H. (2014), “Enforcing Austerity in Europe: The Structural Deficit as a Policy Target”, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 22(3), p.19. 33 Taylor-Gooby, P. and Stoker, G. (2011), “The Coalition Programme: A New Vision for Britain or Politics as Usual? “, The Political Quarterly, 82(1), p.14. 34 Gray, M. and Barford, A. (2018), “The depths of the cuts: the uneven geography of local government austerity”, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 11(3), p.542. 35 Chote, R. et al. (2010), “Public Spending under Labour”, Institute for Fiscal Studies. 36 Cobham, D. et al. (2013), “The economic record of the 1997-2010 Labour government: an assessment”, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 29(1), pp.1-24. 37 Lupton, R. et al. (2013), “Labour’s social policy record: policy, spending and outcomes 1997-2010”, Social Policy in a Cold Climate. 38 Gray, M. and Barford, A. (2018), “The depths of the cuts: the uneven geography of local government austerity”, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 11(3), p.542. 39 Ibid. 40 Department for Education and Department of Health (2015), SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years, p.186. 30


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this point, the think-tank Centre for Cities reports that “cuts have been achieved mainly through services that councils aren’t legally obliged to deliver”.41 However, recent media reports highlight a funding crisis for children with SEND.42434445 In terms of education spending itself, a recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that “total school spending per child fell by 8 per cent in real terms between 2010/11 and 2017/18”.46 This is supported by several media reports referencing a funding crisis in the education system itself, with teachers and parents forced to provide resources.47484950 An investigation providing increased clarity on this issue is hence warranted. Another key theme within the literature is the disproportionate impact austerity measures have had on individuals with a disability. The UN Inquiry into the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the UK (2016) raised several concerns found across the literature. For instance, it was found that “persons with disabilities have been regularly portrayed negatively”. 51 This is supported by Briant et al. who found that newspaper coverage in 2010/11 was less sympathetic towards disabled individuals in comparison to 2004/05.52 Likewise, the inquiry found that “various reforms on welfare schemes [...] have disproportionately affected persons with disabilities”.53 This is supported by others who focus on the negative impact of Working Capability Assessments (WCA) on persons with disabilities.5455 The issue of WCAs has been widely reported within the media, too, highlighting that people were dying soon after having their Employment and Support (ESA) allowance revoked as a result of being declared fit for work in their WCA.56575859

Centre for Cities (2019), Cities Outlook 2019, p.16. The Guardian (2018a), “Special needs pupils being failed by system ‘on verge of crisis’”, 22 October. 43 The Guardian (2018b), “Young people with special needs 'being failed in 44% of areas in England'”, 24 October. 44 The Guardian (2018c), “‘Devastating’ cuts hit special educational needs”, 10 November. 45 The Independent (2019a), “Children with special needs forced out of school for years as funding fails to meet demand”, 15 April. 46 Belfield, C. et al. (2018), “2018 Annual Report on Education Spending in England”, Institute for Fiscal Studies, p.7. 47 BBC News (2018), “Parents asked to pay for books and to attend events”, 1 November. 48 The Telegraph (2018), “Cash strapped schools are asking parents for money”, 31 March. 49 The Independent (2019b), “Nearly half of teachers spent own cash on basic necessities for pupils last year”, 18 April. 50 The Times (2019), “Parents asked to pay for teachers’ salaries and school repairs”, 5 March. 51 United Nations (2016), Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention: Report of the Committee, p.15. 52 Briant, E. et al. (2013), “Reporting Disability in the Age of Austerity: The Changing Face of Media Representation of Disability and Disabled People in the United Kingdom and the Creation of New ‘Folk Devils’”, Disability & Society, 28(6), p.879. 53 United Nations (2016), Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention: Report of the Committee, p.17. 54 O’Hara, M. (2015), Austerity bites: A journey to the sharp end of cuts in the UK, Bristol: Policy Press. 55 Cross, M. (2013), “Demonised, impoverished and now forced into isolation: the fate of disabled people under austerity”, Disability & Society, 28(5). 56 The Times (2013), “Heart and lung transplant patient denied benefits dies”, 29 May. 57 The Guardian (2017), “‘Cruel and humiliating': why fit-for-work tests are failing people with disabilities”, 22 May. 58 The Independent (2017), “Man with cancer dies before he could appeal DWP ruling he was ‘fit to work’”, 8 December. 59 ITV News (2019), “Six-stone man deemed fit to work by DWP dies”, 21 April. 41 42


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The inquiry also found that welfare reforms had “reinforced the dependency of persons with disabilities on informal and/or family care”;60 quality of care had diminished, and support was established on the basis of what is considered to be affordable rather than needed.61 Lastly, it was found that the eligibility for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) had been tightened, “with the result [being] that many claimants with moderate or lower levels of support have been excluded from the benefit”.62 Malli et al. found similar findings to the above. 63 This was also the consensus reached by Stalker et al. in their investigation into the impact of cutbacks in services to disabled children and young people in Scotland.64 This discussion is important for our research question as it reflects the government’s attitude towards individuals with a disability since 2010. It will therefore be interesting to determine whether there are any parallels in the implementation of SEND policy in England. Although limited, there is some literature focusing on funding for children and young people with SEND in England. It suggests that, as mentioned above, there is a funding crisis in the SEND system in England. For instance, a recent report published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR North) highlights that “many children and young people are not getting the support they are entitled to”.65 Likewise, a report by the Local Government Association is significant for our analysis as it investigates the SEND funding crisis in great detail. Moreover, a policy of inclusion generally requires sufficient funding.66676869 For instance, Tomlinson argues that policies of inclusion have led to a larger and more expensive SEN ‘industry’.70 Similarly, others cite that “pressure on the high needs budget is growing over time” due to an increase in the number of special school placements and “the overall squeeze on local authority budgets”.71 There is therefore scope to suggest that a lack of funding

Cross, M. (2013), “Demonised, impoverished and now forced into isolation: the fate of disabled people under austerity”, Disability & Society, 28(5), p.719. 61 Ibid. 62 Ibid., p.722. 63 Malli, A. M. et al. (2018), “Austerity and the lives of people with learning disabilities - A thematic synthesis of current literature”, Disability & Society, 33(9), p.1412. 64 Stalker, K. et al. (2015), “We Could Kid on That This is Going to Benefit the Kids But no, This is About Funding: Cutbacks in Services to Disabled Children and Young People in Scotland”, Child Care in Practice, 21(1), p.6. 65Hunter, J. (2019), “Plans that work: Employment outcomes for people with learning disabilities”, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR North), p.14. 66 MacBeath, J. et al. (2006), The costs of inclusion: A study of inclusion policy and practice in English primary, secondary and special schools, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Faculty of Education. 67 Farrell, P. (2012), “Inclusive education for children with special educational needs: current uncertainties and future directions”, in D. Armstrong and G. Squires (eds.), (2012), Contemporary Issues in Special Educational Needs: Considering The Whole Child, London: McGraw-Hill Education, pp.35-47. 68 Van Pijl, S. (2013), “How Special Needs Funding Can Support Inclusive Education”, in L. Florian (ed.), (2013), The SAGE Handbook of Special Education: Volume 1, 2nd edition, London: SAGE Publications Ltd, pp.251-262. 69 Norwich, B. (2014), “Changing policy and legislation and its effects on inclusive and special education: a perspective from England”, British Journal of Special Education, 41(4), pp.403-425. 70 Tomlinson, S. (2012), “The irresistible rise of the SEN industry”, Oxford Review of Education, 38(3), p.283. 71 Kelly, E. et al. (2018), “Public Spending on Children in England: 2000 to 2020”, Institute for Fiscal Studies, p.5. 60


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will limit the effectiveness of SEND policy. Further, we can assess whether this is the case by looking at the most recent Ofsted report for the English education system, 72 which provides insight into the current state of the SEND system in England and is therefore significant for our analysis. Section III: Analysis 1. Current SEND policy in England The SEND Code of Practice outlines the relevant statutory guidance for children and young people with SEND in England.73 This is based on Part 3 of the Children and Families Act (2014) which represents the most recent changes in legislation for this group. It introduced changes to the existing system: for example, the previous system of identifying children and young people with SEND was replaced, the existing categories School Action and School Action Plus were merged into a single category named SEN Support and statements of SEN were replaced with Education, Health and Social Care (EHC) plans.74 Other notable changes introduced included: i.

legislation was extended to cover children and young people up to the age of 25; 75

ii.

local authorities were now required to publish a ‘local offer’ of the special education provision available in their area.76 The Code of Practice states that: “A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning

difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her”. 77 A learning difficulty or disability is defined as when a child or young person “has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools”.78 SEN support is defined as any additional help that is provided to a child or young person that is different or extra to that provided as part of the school’s curriculum. 79 Moreover, EHC plans “are for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through SEN support”.80 A request for a local authority to undertake an assessment of a

Ofsted (2018), The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2017/18. Department for Education and Department of Health (2015), SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years. 74 Ibid., p.14. 75 Ibid. 76 Ibid. 77 Ibid., p.15. 78 Ibid., p.16. 79 Department for Education (2018), Special Educational Needs in England: January 2018, p.4. 80 Long, R. and Roberts, N. (2019), “Special Educational Needs: support in England”, House of Commons, p.5. 72 73


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child’s eligibility for an EHC plan can be carried out by the child’s parents, or relevant stakeholders such as a doctor, health visitor, or teacher.81 EHC plans carry statutory responsibilities for local authorities. As outlined by the Code of Practice, local authorities must give their decision in response to a request within six weeks of when this was received, and the whole process from assessment to final plan must take no longer than twenty weeks.82 The local authority also has a responsibility to secure the special educational provision specified within an EHC plan. Finally, young people and parents of children with an EHC plan are entitled to a ‘personal budget’; these are optional, but a local authority has a duty to prepare a budget when requested and is defined as “an amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver provision set out in an EHC plan where the parent or young person is involved in securing that provision”.83 2. Inclusion As mentioned in Section II, the 2010 Conservative Party manifesto pledged to end the bias towards inclusion. The motivation for this was based on the findings of the second report of the party’s Commission on Special Needs in Education in 2007,84 which concluded that “inclusion has [...] failed a generation of special needs children”.85 The report also suggested there was an over-identification of children with SEND in England,86 a view echoed by the Ofsted review of the English SEND system in 2010.87 The commitment to end the bias towards inclusion was reiterated in the 2011 Green Paper ‘Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability – consultation’.88 This commitment, however, does not appear in the 2014 legislation nor the 2015 Code of Practice. Instead, the section “A focus on inclusive practice” in the Code of Practice implies that inclusion should apply primarily for children without an EHC plan. For instance, it explains that: “Where a child or young person has SEN but does not have an EHC plan they must be educated in a mainstream setting except in specific circumstances”.89

Ibid. Department for Education and Department of Health (2015), SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years, p.152. 83 Long, R. and Roberts, N. (2019), “Special Educational Needs: support in England”, House of Commons, p.7. 84 Norwich, B. (2014), “Changing policy and legislation and its effects on inclusive and special education: a perspective from England”, British Journal of Special Education, 41(4), p.414. 85 Conservative Party (2007), Commission on Special Needs in Education: The Second Report, p.17. 86 Ibid., pp.7-8. 87 Ofsted (2010), The special educational needs and disability review, p. 9. 88 Department for Education (2011), Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability – consultation, pp.5-51. 89 Department for Education and Department of Health (2015), SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years, p.25. 81 82


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Later in this section, the merits of special education for children with an EHC plan are emphasised. There is also an explicit recognition of Warnock’s assertion that inclusion should advocate for a child to be educated “wherever they learn best”.90 For instance: “Children and young people with SEN have different needs and can be educated effectively in a range of mainstream or special settings. Alongside the general presumption of mainstream education, parents of children with an EHC plan and young people with (an EHC) plan have the right to seek a place at a special school, special post-16 institution or specialist college”.91

This represents a step change in government thinking towards inclusion, since the previous Code of Practice stated that: “There is a clear expectation [...] that pupils with statements of special educational needs will be included in mainstream schools. A parent’s wish to have their child with a statement educated in the mainstream should only be refused in the small minority of cases where the child’s inclusion would be incompatible with the efficient education of other children”.92

I argue that, with the passing of Part 3 of the Children and Families Act of 2014, the government was successful in removing the ‘bias’ towards inclusion in policy rhetoric. However, I further argue that, in contrast to the statement outlined in their manifesto, the new position reflects a bias towards the placement of children with the most complex and severe SEND in special education. There has been no radical change to the expectation that most children with SEND must be included in mainstream education. Although there is a recognition of the second definition, as outlined with reference to Warnock’s definition,93 the superiority of special education for children with an EHC is highlighted by the change from ‘expectation’ to ‘presumption’ in the policy rhetoric. What is implicit throughout this discussion, however, is that the government understands inclusion as a placement issue. That is, that inclusion refers to where a child is educated rather than how. The government, therefore, favours the first definition of inclusion outlined in Section II. I will now investigate whether there has been any significant change in the statistics concerning children and young people with SEND.

Warnock, M. (2010), “Special Educational Needs: A New Look”, in L. Terzi, B. Norwich and M. Warnock, (eds.), (2010), Special Educational Needs: A New Look, 2nd edition, London: Continuum International Publishing Group, pp.13-14. 91 Department for Education and Department of Health (2015), SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years, p.28. 92 Department for Education and Skills (2001), Special Educational Needs Code of Practice, p.14. 93 Warnock, M. (2010), “Special Educational Needs: A New Look”, in L. Terzi, B. Norwich and M. Warnock, (eds.), (2010), Special Educational Needs: A New Look, 2nd edition, London: Continuum International Publishing Group, pp.13-14. 90


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3. Statistics There are currently 1,276,215 pupils identified as having SEN in England. This represents a decline of 6.5 per cent in the percentage of SEN students as a proportion of the school population since 2010, from 21.1 per cent in 2010 to 14.6 per cent in 2018.94 This arguably reflects the concerns expressed above that SEND students were over-identified pre-2010. However, a more sceptical view would highlight that a decline in the number of SEND students identified in the education system reduces the financial pressures to provide for these students. Despite this decline, the percentage of pupils with an EHC plan, as a proportion of the school population, has remained stable since 2010, leading to an increase in the proportion of SEND students with an EHC plan as a proportion of the population of SEND students.95 This suggests that since 2010, the government has been more focused on children with the most severe and complex SEND. 96 An important finding for our analysis of inclusion, however, is that the percentage of pupils with an EHC plan attending special schools has increased since 2010. For state-funded special schools, there has been an increase from 38.2 per cent in 2010 to 44.2 per cent in 2018. Likewise, for independent special schools, there has been an increase from 4.2 per cent to 6.3 per cent.97 Over half of children with an EHC plan, therefore, now attend a special school – an increase of over 10 per cent since 2010. This hence reflects the government’s intention to encourage the placement of children with an EHC plan in special schools rather than the mainstream system. This is supported by the fact that 97.9 per cent of children in special schools have an EHC plan.98 In terms of special schools themselves, there has actually been a decline from 1054 schools99 to 1033 between 2010 and 2018.100 In terms of special school places, however, there has been an increase of over 25,000 places.101 Some other trends are also worth highlighting for our analysis: SEN pupils are more likely to be in receipt of free school meals (FSM) – 25.8 per cent of all SEN pupils compared to 11.5 per cent of non-SEN. This is particularly the case for students categorised as having social, emotional and

Gillooly, A. and Riddell, S. (2019), “Autonomy, Rights and Children with Special Needs: A New Paradigm? An overview of statistics on SEN in England and ASN in Scotland”, Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity, p.6. 95 Ibid., p.7. 96 Norwich, B. (2014), “Changing policy and legislation and its effects on inclusive and special education: a perspective from England”, British Journal of Special Education, 41(4), p.422. 97 Department for Education (2018), Special Educational Needs in England: January 2018, p.6. 98 Gillooly, A. and Riddell, S. (2019), “Autonomy, Rights and Children with Special Needs: A New Paradigm? An overview of statistics on SEN in England and ASN in Scotland”, Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity, p.1. 99 Department for Education (2018), Special Educational Needs in England: January 2018, Table 13. 100 Ibid., p.9 101 Ibid., Table 1. 94


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mental health (SEMH) difficulties.102 The statistics also show an increase in pupils with SEND attending an independent institution from 4 per cent to 7.1 per cent since 2010 for those without an EHC plan, and from 4.2 per cent to 6.3 per cent for those with an EHC plan.103 One could argue this is because of the failure of state-funded schools to provide sufficient resources for SEND children. As mentioned in Section II, this has been a factor in some families choosing to home-school their child. What is troubling, however, is that both home-schooling and private schools are a privilege that some families cannot afford. Others have shown that overall rates of SEND are higher as social deprivation increases.104 This is significant given that areas with higher social deprivation, particularly cities in the North of England, have seen the biggest cuts in local government spending. 105 This is reinforced by findings which highlight that rates of appeal in the North of England are half that of the national average,106 which could suggest rates of appeal are negatively correlated with higher social deprivation. Additionally, Table 1 shows how there has been an increase in the appeals since the introduction of the 2014 legislation, with the decision significantly favouring the appellant. As argued in The Guardian, this increase raises “concerns that some local authorities are making poor decisions, delaying vulnerable children’s access to education”.107

Table 1: SEND Tribunals – Statistics (2014/2015 to 2017/2018). Source: TheyWorkForYou.com, Special Educational Needs: Tribunals (2018). Available at: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2018-11-21.194228.h (Accessed: 28 April 2019).

Gillooly, A. and Riddell, S. (2019), “Autonomy, Rights and Children with Special Needs: A New Paradigm? An overview of statistics on SEN in England and ASN in Scotland”, Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity, pp.19-20. 103 Department for Education (2018), Special Educational Needs in England: January 2018, pp.6-7. 104 Gillooly, A. and Riddell, S. (2019), “Autonomy, Rights and Children with Special Needs: A New Paradigm? An overview of statistics on SEN in England and ASN in Scotland”, Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity, p.23. 105 Gray, M. and Barford, A. (2018), “The depths of the cuts: the uneven geography of local government austerity”, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 11(3), p.550. 106 Ibid., p.38. 107 The Guardian (2018a), “Special needs pupils being failed by system ‘on verge of crisis’”, 22 October. 102


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4. SEND Funding As previously mentioned, local authorities have a statutory duty to provide the special educational provision specified in a child or young person’s EHC plan. The funding to fulfil this duty comes from the high needs block, as part of a local authority’s Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). 108 The total budget for high needs as of 2018/19 was £5.99 billion.109 Currently, for those with an EHC plan who attend a mainstream school, the first £6,000 of additional costs is supplied to the school’s budget. This is on top of the per-pupil funding formula a school receives. Any costs over this are given as a ‘top-up’ from the high needs budget of the child’s local authority. For those with an EHC plan attending a special school, the high needs budget provides an initial £10,000 per place. Any additional funding is then provided dependent on the needs and outcomes of the pupil’s EHC plan. The high needs budget also provides a £10,000 funding allocation for children who require alternative provision, either because they have been permanently excluded from a mainstream or special school, or they are unable to attend school due to medical reasons.110 A local authority is permitted to move 0.5 per cent of its DSG funding allocation into its high needs block with the approval of their schools’ forum. It must apply to Secretary of State, however, if it wishes to move more than 0.5 per cent. 111 A new ‘national funding formula’ for high needs was introduced for 2018/19, which, it is argued, “will direct high needs funding towards the areas where it’s most needed”.112 This formula, illustrated by Figure 1, was introduced to move away from deciding funding levels based on historic spending by local authorities. This still applies for 50 per cent of the allocation, but ‘proxy factors’ have been added to improve allocation.113 Funding for those identified as SEN support is not ring-fenced, and it is assumed the needs of these children will be met by the mainstream school’s budget. 114 Finally, the high needs block was introduced in 2013/14.115 Before this, SEND funding existed under several different headings, hence the ensuing analysis will be focused from 2013/14 to 2018/19. The government announced in December 2018 that there would be an injection of £125 million to the high needs budget for 2018/19 and a further £125 million for 2019/20.116

Education & Skills Funding Agency (2018), High needs funding 2018 to 2019: Operational guide, p.20. Parish, N. et al. (2018), “Have we reached a ‘tipping point’? Trends in spending for children and young people with SEND in England”, Local Government Association, p.7. 110 Education & Skills Funding Agency (2018), High needs funding 2018 to 2019: Operational guide, pp.23-25. 111 Ibid., p.8. 112 Education & Skills Funding Agency (2018), High needs funding 2018 to 2019: Operational guide, p.21. 113 Education & Skills Funding Agency (2017), High needs funding 2017 to 2018: Operational guide, pp.32-33. 114 Hunter, J. (2019), “Plans that work: Employment outcomes for people with learning disabilities”, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR North), p.11. 115 Kelly, E. et al. (2018), “Public Spending on Children in England: 2000 to 2020”, Institute for Fiscal Studies, p.29. 116 GOV.UK (2018), New funding to support children with special educational needs. 108 109


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Figure 1. The National Funding Formula for schools and high needs. Source: Education and Skills Funding Agency (2017). Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/648533/national_funding_formul a_for_schools_and_high_needs-Exec_summary.pdf (Accessed: 28 April 2019).

5. Funding crisis As highlighted in Section II, media reports have indicated a crisis in SEND funding and the education system in England. Recent research reveals that, although the total high needs budget has increased by 11 per cent since 2014/15, there has been an increase of 35 per cent in the number of children with EHC plans during the same period, resulting in a decline in the amount of funding per person of just under 20 per cent in the last four years.117 This is illustrated by Figure 2.

Figure 2: Funding allocated through high needs block per EHC plan. Source: IPPR North (2019). Available at: https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/plans-that-work (Accessed: 28 April 2019).

Hunter, J. (2019), “Plans that work: Employment outcomes for people with learning disabilities�, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR North), p.13. 117


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This funding crisis was examined in greater detail by the Local Government Association in 2018, which highlighted that, as well as the increased number of children issued with EHC plans, the number of children and young people permanently excluded increased by 67 per cent from 2014 to 2018.118 This puts further pressure on the high needs budget because local authorities must fund alternative provision for these individuals. It was also estimated that local authorities had transferred £450 million of schools’ block money and £240 million of DSG reserves between 2015/16 and 2018/19; this was based on the assumption that the findings of the 93 local authorities surveyed were representative of all local authorities in England.119 Despite this, however, most councils also ran a deficit on their high needs budgets from 2015/16, and resultingly, they approximate that “the national deficit on high needs block spending by the end of 2018/19 could be £472 million”.120 This funding problem is aggravated by the fact that SEND provision is becoming more expensive because of an increased number of children and young people with EHC plans being educated in special schools. The average cost of provision for a child or young person in a maintained special school is £23,000 per year, compared to just £6,000 for those in mainstream education.121 The ‘cost-effectiveness’ of inclusive education for children with SEND was highlighted in the influential Salamanca Agreement.122 It is confusing, therefore, that a government committed to reducing its structural deficit has decided to pursue a policy that will cost it more money. Moreover, some local authorities are forced to place children in independent special schools due to a lack of available space in maintained special schools in their area and it is estimated that the cost of this is even greater, at £40,000 per pupil.123 Consequently, the government’s move away from inclusive education “has cost an estimated £277 million over four years”,124 and it is expected that the funding crisis will worsen, with 97 per cent of the local authorities surveyed believing high needs spending would continue to increase in the future. Based on the above, therefore, “there could be a national deficit on high needs spending between £1.2 billion and £1.6 billion by 2021”.125 What is significant here is that the government’s injection of £250 million for 2018/19 and 2019/20 does not come close to solving the

Parish, N. et al. (2018), “Have we reached a ‘tipping point’? Trends in spending for children and young people with SEND in England”, Local Government Association, p.21. 119 Ibid., p.12. 120 Ibid., p.14. 121 Ibid., p.21. 122 Unesco (1994), The Salamanca Statement and Framework for action on special needs education: adopted by the World Conference on Special Needs Education, p.17. 123 Parish, N. et al. (2018), “Have we reached a ‘tipping point’? Trends in spending for children and young people with SEND in England”, Local Government Association, p.22. 124 Ibid., p.23. 125 Ibid., pp.5-6. 118


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funding crisis in SEND support. The verdict on the result of a new funding formula for the high needs budget, however, remains to be seen, as this was only introduced in September 2018. 6. Impact on SEND policy The Ofsted annual report for 2017/18 is a damning indictment of the current state of the SEND system in England, highlighting that “the gap in performance and outcomes for children with SEND is widening between the best and worst local areas”.126 Further, it states that of the 68 local areas inspected in the past two years, nearly half “were required to provide a written statement of action [...], an indication of serious failings”.127 Particularly, concerns were raised that “children and young people who have autism [were] waiting up to two years to be diagnosed; some were not being educated at all during this time”.128 Moreover, the report found that the quality of EHC plans is “far too variable within some local areas and across the country”,129 arguing that “identification of SEND is weak and those who do not meet the threshold for an EHC plan have poor outcomes”. 130 This creates a greater incentive for parents to request an EHC plan assessment for their child; 131 there has been an increase of over 50 per cent in demand for assessments since 2015. 132 There are also significant implications for inclusion, specifically because SEND children were being ‘off-rolled’. Off-rolling is defined as “the practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without a formal [...] exclusion or by encouraging a parent to remove their child from the school [...] when the removal is primarily in the interests of the school”.133 In this respect, the report highlights 19,000 children who did not progress from Year 10 to 11 in the same state-funded secondary school; 30 per cent of them were SEND.134 Finally, concerns were also raised because “pupils with SEN support are five times more likely to have a permanent exclusion than pupils with no SEND”.135 The Ofsted report therefore indicates an education system that is failing some of its most vulnerable individuals; individuals who are entitled to a high-quality education regardless of the obstacles they face. The report aligns with the government’s attitude towards disability, for instance, with the poor quality of EHC plans across some local areas and the weak identification of SEND.

Ofsted (2018), The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2017/18, p.8. Ibid., p.53. 128 Ibid., p.12. 129 Ibid., p.13. 130 Ibid. 131 Ibid. 132 Ibid., p.53. 133 Ibid., p.50. 134 Ibid. 135 Ibid., p.53. 126 127


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There are also clear failings regarding the achievement of an inclusive education, typified by the evidence of off-rolling, the number of children with no educational provision, and the high exclusion rates of SEND children. These failings, together with the wider funding crisis, represent an education system which is struggling to provide the education SEND children deserve. Section IV: Conclusion The investigation for the research question of this dissertation began with a review of the relevant literature surrounding inclusion and austerity. Several important themes were identified, notably that there exists considerable debate over the meaning of inclusive education as a concept. It was highlighted that two meanings are significant for our understanding and analysis of inclusion: inclusion can be understood as a placement/location issue or as stressing the importance of the quality of education a child receives. Section III found that the new Code of Practice, as compared to the previous one, represents a bias towards the inclusion of children with the most complex SEND in special education, thus representing a clear step change in government policy for these children and young people. The government’s policy towards children with less severe SEND, however, has not changed at all: there remains an expectation that these children should, and must, be educated within mainstream education. In relation to the government’s pledge to remove the bias towards inclusion for children in mainstream education, therefore, this has only been partially achieved. The government’s strategy for inclusion was evidenced within the discussion on statistics for children and young people with SEND since 2010. There has been a significant increase in the number of children with EHC plans being educated in special education institutions. One may suggest that there is also cause for concern over the increase in independent provision for SEND children, because this has been instigated by a failure of the state-funded system to provide sufficient resources. This is exacerbated by the fact that placement in an independent institution, when this is forced upon a local authority due to lack of space, is over six times more expensive than mainstream provision. The increase in tribunals, of which nearly nine in ten are decided in favour of the appellant, further suggests the system failure in providing sufficient resources. It was also revealed that the key characteristic of the policy of ‘austerity’ has been a series of cuts to departmental spending, several of which have hit some departments, particularly local government, harder than others. Further, issues raised in relation to media reports indicated a crisis in SEND funding and the wider education system, demonstrating that austerity measures since 2010 have had a disproportionate impact on persons with disabilities. The analysis of the influence of


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austerity made some troubling observations. For instance, evidence suggests that funding for those with SEND has not kept pace with demand, resulting in a significant funding crisis within the English SEND system. Nevertheless, this heightened demand has been exacerbated by the government’s inclusion strategy because provision in special education institutions is far more expensive. Further, it remains to be seen whether the new national funding formula will remedy some of the problems that the Ofsted report highlights. I argue that it is unlikely there will be any significant change on this issue unless the present government discards its current commitment to reducing the structural deficit. This dissertation has hence shown that the factors of austerity and inclusion have had a significant influence on SEND policy in England since 2010, and that there is considerable interplay between these factors. References Arduin, S. (2015), “A review of the values that underpin the structure of an education system and its approach to disability and inclusion”, Oxford Review of Education, 41(1), pp.105-121. Baker, J. (2007), “The British Government’s strategy for SEN: implications for the role and future development of special schools”, In Support for Learning, 22(2), pp.72-77. Barton, L and Slee, R. (1999), “Competition, selection and inclusive education: some observations”, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 3(1), pp.3-12. BBC News (2017), “Election 2017: A short guide to devolution in the UK”, 19 May. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-39967475, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). BBC News (2018), “Parents asked to pay for books and to attend events”, 1 November. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-46047654, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). Belfield, C., Farquharson, C. and Sibieta, L. (2018), “2018 Annual Report on Education Spending in England”, Institute for Fiscal Studies. Available at: https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/13306, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). Bhopal, K. and Myers, M. (2018), “Special educational needs and disability: ‘most schools don’t want and have never wanted our children’”, Home Schooling and Home Education: Race, Class and Inequality, London: Routledge, pp.83-101. Briant, E., Watson, N. and Philo, G. (2013), “Reporting Disability in the Age of Austerity: The Changing Face of Media Representation of Disability and Disabled People in the United Kingdom and the Creation of New ‘Folk Devils’”, Disability & Society, 28(6), pp.874-889. Burton, M. (2016), The Politics of Austerity: A Recent History, London: Palgrave Macmillan. Cappadocia, C., Weiss, J. A. and Pepler, D. (2012), “Bullying Experiences Among Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders”, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(2), pp.266277. Centre for Cities (2019), Cities Outlook 2019. Available at: https://www.centreforcities.org/wpcontent/uploads/2019/01/19-01-28-Cities-Outlook2019-Full.pdf, (Accessed: 28 April 2019).


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Gillooly, A. and Riddell, S. (2019), “Autonomy, Rights and Children with Special Needs: A New Paradigm? An overview of statistics on SEN in England and ASN in Scotland”, Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity. Available at: http://www.docs.hss.ed.ac.uk/education/creid/Projects/39_ii_ESRC_SENChildren_WP_1_ Update.pdf, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). GOV.UK (2018), New funding to support children with special educational needs. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-funding-to-support-children-with-specialeducational-needs, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). Gray, M. and Barford, A. (2018), “The depths of the cuts: the uneven geography of local government austerity”, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 11(3), pp.541-563. Hodkinson, A. (2011), “Inclusion: a defining definition?”, Power and Education, 3(2), pp.179-185. House of Commons Education and Skills Committee (2006), “Special Educational Needs: Third Report of Session 2005-06”, London: The Stationery Office Limited. Hunter, J. (2019), “Plans that work: Employment outcomes for people with learning disabilities”, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR North). Available at: https://www.ippr.org/research/publications/plans-that-work, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). ITV News (2019), “Six-stone man deemed fit to work by DWP dies”, 21 April. Available at: https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2019-04-21/six-stone-man-deemed-fit-to-work-by-dwpdies/, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). Kelly, E., Lee, T., Sibieta, L. and Waters, T. (2018), “Public Spending on Children in England: 2000 to 2020”, Institute for Fiscal Studies. Available at: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2018/06/Public-Spendingon-Children-in-England-CCO-JUNE-2018.pdf, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). Long, R. and Roberts, N. (2019), “Special Educational Needs: support in England”, House of Commons. Available at: https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/32907/1/SN07020.pdf, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). Lupton, R., Hills, J., Stewart, K. and Vizard, P. (2013), “Labour’s social policy record: policy, spending and outcomes 1997-2010”, Social Policy in a Cold Climate. Available at: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/spcc/rr01.pdf, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). MacBeath, J., Galton, M., Steward, S., MacBeath, A. and Page, C. (2006), The costs of inclusion: A study of inclusion policy and practice in English primary, secondary and special schools, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Faculty of Education. Malli, A.M., Sams, L., Forrester-Jones, R., Murphy, G. and Henwood, M. (2018), “Austerity and the lives of people with learning disabilities - A thematic synthesis of current literature”, Disability & Society, 33(9), pp.1412-1435. Norwich, B. (2014), “Changing policy and legislation and its effects on inclusive and special education: a perspective from England”, British Journal of Special Education, 41(4), pp.403-425. Norwich, B. and Eaton, A. (2015), “The new special educational needs (SEN) legislation in England and implications for services for children and young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties”, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 20(2), pp.117-132. O’Hara, M. (2015), Austerity bites: A journey to the sharp end of cuts in the UK, Bristol: Policy Press. Ofsted (2010), The special educational needs and disability review. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_dat a/file/413814/Special_education_needs_and_disability_review.pdf, (Accessed: 28 April 2019).


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Ofsted (2018), The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2017/18. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_dat a/file/761606/29523_Ofsted_Annual_Report_2017-18_041218.pdf, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). Parish, N., Bryant, B. and Swords, B. (2018), “Have we reached a ‘tipping point’? Trends in spending for children and young people with SEND in England”, Local Government Association. Available at: http://www.isospartnership.com/uploads/files/LGA%20HN%20report%20published%2012.1 2.18.pdf, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). Radice, H. (2014), “Enforcing Austerity in Europe: The Structural Deficit as a Policy Target”, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 22(3), pp.318-328. Roulstone, A. and Prideaux, S. (2008), “More policies, greater inclusion? Exploring the contradictions of New Labour inclusive education policy”, International Studies in Sociology of Education, 18(1), pp.15-29. Squires, G. (2012), “Historical and socio-political agendas around defining and including children with special educational needs” in D. Armstrong and G. Squires (eds.), (2012), Contemporary Issues in Special Educational Needs: Considering The Whole Child, London: McGraw-Hill Education, pp.9-24. Stalker, K., MacDonald, C., King, C., McFaul, F., Young, C. and Hawthorn, M. (2015), “We Could Kid on That This is Going to Benefit the Kids But no, This is About Funding: Cutbacks in Services to Disabled Children and Young People in Scotland”, Child Care in Practice, 21(1), pp.6-21. Taylor-Gooby, P. and Stoker, G. (2011), “The Coalition Programme: A New Vision for Britain or Politics as Usual? “, The Political Quarterly, 82(1), pp.4-15. The Guardian (2017), “‘Cruel and humiliating': why fit-for-work tests are failing people with disabilities”, 22 May. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2017/may/22/cruel-andhumiliating-why-fit-for-work-tests-are-failing-people-with-disabilities, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). The Guardian (2018a), “Special needs pupils being failed by system ‘on verge of crisis’”, 22 October. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/22/special-needs-pupilsbeing-failed-by-system-on-verge-crisis, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). The Guardian (2018b), “Young people with special needs 'being failed in 44% of areas in England'”, 24 October. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/oct/24/young-peoplewith-special-needs-being-failed-in-44-of-areas-in-england, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). The Guardian (2018c), “‘Devastating’ cuts hit special educational needs”, 10 November. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/nov/10/councils-face-crisis-special-needseducation-funding, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). The Independent (2017), “Man with cancer dies before he could appeal DWP ruling he was 'fit to work'”, 8 December. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/dwpbenefits-mancancer-dies-before-appeal-ruling-fit-to-work-government-phillip-balderson-lakea8098871.html, (Accessed: 28 April 2019). The Independent (2019a), “Children with special needs forced out of school for years as funding fails to meet demand”, 15 April. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/special-educational-needssenschool-funding-children-parents-a8867581.html, (Accessed: 28 April 2019).


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