Issue 17: 2 November 2021

Page 1















Victory for SOAS Cleaners: “¡La Lucha Continúa!”

Members of the SOAS Cleaning Team, holding a banner reflecting some of the key tenets of the campaign. (Credit: Justice 4 Workers)

Hala Haidar, BA Global Development On Wednesday 20 October, after a year of back-and-forth discussions with SOAS management, the cleaning team celebrated getting their proposed rota approved. In a public statement, the SOAS cleaning team contend that their rota is ‘the most functional and equitable when compared with SOAS’s proposals.’ After SOAS established their ‘Transformation and Change’ policy in 2020 to deal with SOAS’ financial instability, the cleaning staff were heavily impacted. With one-third of cleaners being made redundant and the remaining cleaners

working for 4 days and having the next 4 days off. According to the cleaning team, with this previous rota, they worked 26.26 hours per week rather than their 37.5 contracted hours per week as well as working 4 weekends per month. In their statement they assert, ‘The cleaning team are human beings, we have lives, families, and we are the essential workers that faced the pandemic, exposing ourselves on public transport to come to work, cleaning the university to ensure the safety of the SOAS community.’ Led by the cleaning staff at SOAS, the Justice 4 Workers (J4W) campaign began in 2006 after many cleaners reported not being compensated for three months of work by the outsourced company SOAS employed.

The original campaign was named ‘Justice for Cleaners,’ which then grew to include all workers outsourced by SOAS. According to J4W, ‘Alongside UNISON the initial demands included recognition of the union, fair wage, and to be brought in house.’ The J4W campaign was largely successful, achieving a London living wage for all cleaners along with sick pay, holiday pay, pensions, and most recently an end to outsourcing in 2018. Consuelo Moreno, a member of the cleaning staff at SOAS who has led the campaign since its conception fifteen years ago, contended, ‘That day 8 years ago SOAS took so much from us that they took our fear, our fear to fight.’ Continued on page 3


Letter from the Editor

Contents News

Students Left Frustrated at Minimal In-Person Classes for 2021


UK Anti-Vaxxers Irked by Vaccination of Children


What Has Changed?: Women in


Opinion An Open Letter to the Government


Resilience is Coming


Features Victim or Terrorist? A Decade of Silence Islamaphobia: the Phobia that Terrorises Others More Than the Supposed 'Terrorists'

Artemis’ Amman

p11 p13 p12

Dear Spirit readers, I am so pleased to present our first issue of the year to you all. Whilst this is the first issue of the academic year and my first as Editor-In-Chief, it is certainly not the first in a long legacy of the Spirit. With a presence on campus since 1936, we now find ourselves on the second page of the 17th issue since the Spirit’s revival in 2017. When looking back on the 16 issues before this one, we see a lot of similar stories being published. The front cover article of Issue 1 celebrated the end of outsourcing workers on campus. Today, our front cover reminds readers that the Justice 4 Workers Campaign is far from over. Just as former Managing Editor, Ali Mitib, wrote in his first Letter from the Editor in Issue 1, the Spirit works to hold those in positions of power accountable for their actions whilst also providing entertaining and thought provoking content. No section quite holds those in power at SOAS accountable like SOAS News where under the new leadership of Lara Holly Gibbs we find ourselves delving into various communities at SOAS to amplify campaigns, decipher policy changes and to hold those in power at SOAS accountable. When we zoom out on a larger scale we have National News and International News where under our new editors Rishika Singh and Clayton Barrington-Russell

Frances Howe Editor-in-Chief of the SOAS Spirit

Your SOAS Spirit Team

Frances Howe • Editor-in-Chief • Artemis Sianni-Wedderburn • Co-Deputy Editor • Naaz Hussein • Co-Deputy Editor •

Culture The Influx of Black Horror Films and Their Duality


The Parallels of Squid Game and Modern Society


Lara Holly Gibbs • SOAS News Editor • Rishika Singh • National News Editor • Clayton Barrington-Rusell • International News Editor • Leehoo Pansky • Opinion Editor • Zaynab Mufti • Features Editor • Mat Hick • Culture Editor • Mahek Arora • Sport & Societies Editor • Artemis Sianni-Wedderburn • Co-Deputy Editor

Sports & Societies Welcome to the ‘Easiest Part of Your Week’

we strive to provide our readers with articles that are thought provoking and informative of the UK and the rest of the world. In this issue we examine the impacts of the release of the Pandora Papers, on the continued threats to women’s rights in Afghanistan and at how spoons have become a symbol in the Palestinian fight for resistance. Our Opinions Section may look slightly different to our readers this year under the direction of Leehoo Pansky who is highlighting the contrasting ideas of the SOAS student body. By featuring multiple articles under a single umbrella topic, the Opinions Section traverses between opinions showing both contrast and unity in often polarising topics. We start off strong in this issue by looking at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in both its futility and as a beacon of hope for change. Zaynab Mufti leads our Features Section this year bringing together a vast pool of articles for our readers to engage with. On page 11, we look at the story of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, sentenced to 86 years in prison for a crime with no evidence and on page 13 we delve into a powerful and personal article on islamophobia by Anisah Islam. This issue also features the first article in a new column created by our own Deputy Editor, Artemis Sianni-Wedderburn, as she shares her experiences of her year abroad in Amman. Our Culture Section has come a long way since issue 6 when former Managing Editor, Khadija Kothia, declared the ‘new and improved’ section no longer restricted to reviews but now also a ‘hotbed for discussion.’ We find this discussion in our articles on the rise of Black horror films, on the impacts of the #MeToo movement on James Bond, on privilege in Opera and on the resemblance of the popular Netflix show, Squid Game, to real life South Korea. Finally, our issue comes to a close with Sports and Societies led by Mahek Arora. With so much more to come for this section this year we shed light on the various communities at SOAS amplifying their stories and connecting readers with more of their kinds of people. This issue we focus on the netball society and their commitment to creating an inclusive place for members. So with the weight of an 85 year legacy of the SOAS Spirit on our shoulders, here is issue 17.

Anneka Shah • Senior Sub-Editor • Phoebe Parsons • Sub-Editor • Maryam Abdul-Mujib • Sub-Editor • Arthie Sivanantharajah • Sub-Editor • Yi-Chun Huang • Layout Editor • Anneka Shah • Layout Editor •

Jacynthe Roesch • Senior Online Editor • Anna Fenton-Jones • Online Editor • Millie Weighton Glaister • Online Editor • Clarissa Mondeh • Social Media Co-ordinator • Aisha Fatima • Social Media Co-ordinator •


Naaz Hussein • Co-Deputy Editor



2 NOVEMBER 2021 News Editors: Lara Holly Gibbs, Rishika Singh, Clayton Barrington-



Continued from page 1

The day she is referring to is 12 June 2009 when an immigration raid on campus under the guise of an urgent meeting at six in the morning, resulted in the deportation of nine cleaners. As reported by J4W, upon the cleaning staff ’s arrival on campus, there were 40 immigration officers in riot gear in hidden locations waiting to arrest undocumented workers. They assert that due to the concealment of the event by SOAS, the cleaners were unable to have neither legal representation nor union support from UNISON. Despite SOAS students opposing these deportations by protesting in front of the director’s office, which pressured the administration into requesting ‘leave to remain’ statuses for the staff, they were still deported. The J4W campaign remembers the day each year by hosting

events such as a rally on campus and a documentary screening of ‘Limpiadores’ by Fernando González Mitjáns. SOAS responded in a statement, saying ‘​​The opportunity to look at the delivery of our cleaning services arose as part of the Transformation and Change process last year. After engaging in positive discussions with members of our campus services teams, we are pleased to have reached an agreement on the new rota system which will be implemented soon. The new rota system ensures improved team arrangements with supervisors on hand. It will also help to ensure a better balance and distribution of cleaning services on campus. SOAS brought a range of estates staff, including cleaners, in-house in August 2018. It means all staff in our campus services teams are directly employed by the university, with the

full workforce put on equal terms and conditions. Our support staff at SOAS are an important part of the community and we could not deliver on our teaching and research agenda or offer an excellent student experience without them.’ The campaign has evolved to focus on ensuring that SOAS follows through on the commitments they have made to their staff, in particular the cleaning staff. Most recently, they celebrated the approval of their rota by SOAS management. However, they maintain that the fight is far from over. They conclude their statement by affirming, ‘we have shown over the years, that we are united and continue to break down barriers bringing us closer to the respect and dignity that we deserve.’

Students Left Frustrated at Minimal In-Person Classes for 2021

Email sent to East Asia Department in response to their announcement Credit: Lara Holly Gibbs

Ruby Punt, Comparative Literature MA On 28 September, the East Asia department announced via email their decision to keep all language classes online in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and ensure all students have access to their classes. In the department’s original email, it was stated that ‘there will be language surgeries on campus.’ This email was only sent to students in the East Asia department, students outside of this department were not informed of this decision until they attended their first class. When speaking to first-year BA Chinese student, Gunda Pavilonyte, about the department’s decision to keep classes online, she expressed how disappointed she was by online classes. She had specifically chosen to study languages at SOAS and had travelled

from Lithuania under the assumption that classes would be in-person. Gunda explains how she felt ‘slightly tricked,’ as to the amount of in-person teaching that would be offered. Gunda went on to explain how vital in-person teaching is for language learners, stating: ‘If anything I think it’s crucial for language majors, especially those learning the language for the first time, to have lessons in-person as listening is key in language learning which could be easily disturbed by any technical issues on either end.’ Numerous students have responded to the department asking them to reconsider. Among these students is Sophie Chapman, a third-year BA Japanese student, who reached out to the department on 30 September to make a formal complaint. Her email set out


numerous reasons as to why she believed the decision should be reversed, citing other London universities - such as Queen Mary University of London, King’s College London and University College London. She went on to discuss how damaging online classes are for student’s mental health. She outlined that it is not fair to the students who can attend in-person classes for them to be denied the level of education they are paying for. Declaring that ‘I would go as far as to say this decision has done the exact opposite of creating equality between students’ learning, as all other students at SOAS will be receiving high quality, inperson teaching, whilst those of us in the East Asian department will be receiving a far lower standard of teaching through the online medium, for exactly the same fees, solely because no suitable alternative has been created.’ Sophie highlights that most of SOAS’s other classes, including other classes from the East Asia department, utilise a higher degree of blended teaching, and suggests this should be possible for language classes too. Sophie goes on to say that she had been told that in-person ‘language learning cannot happen when wearing masks due to the need for lipreading,’ while she notes that in previous years during online classes some teachers themselves have turned off their cameras and encouraged students to do the same for security reasons. She writes: ‘That whole time, despite not seeing anyone’s faces, we were told by SOAS that our online education was perfectly sufficient. So is it possible to learn a language without seeing mouths? Or is it the case that our online education actually wasn’t and will continue to not be sufficient due to not seeing people’s mouths?’ Since her first correspondence, Sophie has contacted the Office for the Minister for Higher Education and plans to continue campaigning for increased blended teaching.

“this decision has done the exact opposite of creating equality between students’ learning” The department responded to these complaints on 7 October in a mass email stating that ‘Plans for language-based activities are being discussed and will be finalised once all students are enrolled and tutorial groups are allocated.’ In a statement to the SOAS Spirit, SOAS has said: ‘SOAS designed teaching for 2021/22, like most of our neighbours in London, with a focus on in-person smallgroup teaching under strict safety guidelines. One key guideline was to ventilate classrooms and wear masks in class. EALC was the first department to respond proactively to these guidelines, committing to teaching disciplinary modules in person and offering in-person weekly language surgeries to make up for any language teaching that had to be moved online because of mask requirements. Some language teaching has to run online as long as a mask mandate is in place, and we are grateful to EALC that they have gone above and beyond in creating bespoke activities on campus so that students can still have an on-campus experience.’


National News


National News

Tory Ministers Face Questions Over Pandora Papers

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng exits 10 Downing street. (Credit: The Daily Telegraph)

Toby Oliver-Clarke, BA History, The fallout from the release of the Pandora Papers has continued to raise questions over the conduct of some of the world’s most wealthy and influential people. More importantly, thirty-four Tory Ministers and MPs now face questions over donations given by a Russian oligarch, Viktor Fedotov. Fedotov was previously linked to alleged corruption scandals and organised crime. Fedotov (74) is a billionaire with properties in the UK and Russia and has been embroiled in corruption scandals since 2003. Fedotov stands accused of making £72 million from a series of offshore financial accounts and embezzling money from the Russian firm Aquind. Documents, published by a consortium of journalists led by The Guardian and BBC revealed that along with receiving generous donations by Fedotov, Tory ministers lobbied on behalf of Aquind, a firm co-owned by Fedotov. This was an

apparent attempt at securing a lucrative undersea electricity project between Portsmouth and Normandy in France. The Papers revealed correspondence since October 2019 in which a £1.1 million donation was made to The Conservative Party. It was presumably given to ensure that the Conservative government lobbied the European Commission, reiterating support for a number of Aquind projects. Additionally, Conservative MP, David Morries, was recently found to have broken parliamentary rules when he delivered a speech in the House of Commons in which he spoke favourably of Aquind. The speech was delivered only weeks after Morries had received a £10,000 donation from the company. Following the release of this correspondence, Veteran journalist Peter Oborne questioned ‘why Aquind feels it needs to go to such elaborate efforts and spend so much money, and so much time to get access to the Conservative party?’ In response a spokesman for The Conservative Party insisted that ‘fundraising is a legitimate part of the

democratic process. Government policy is in no way influenced by the donations the party receives.’ The controversy surrounding The Conservative Party is made all the more serious by Fedotov’s alleged links to embezzlement and corruption. Vniist - another one of Fedotov’s businesses - acted as a contractor on Transneft’s enormous Eastern Siberia- Pacific Ocean pipeline project. The allegations of corruption were first made public by Russian opposition activist and politician Alexei Navalny. Navalny is a Russian anti-corruption activist; he alleged that an embezzlement scheme worth $4bn was being conducted by the contractors of Transneft, one of the contractors being Vniist. To substantiate these claims, Navalny released a report in which executives of Transneft (the firm which had contracted Vniist) discussed how a ‘scheme was artificially created’ to benefit the scheme’s contractors. The foremost contractor named in the report was Vniist, which the report alleges stole upwards of 3.8 billion roubles (£80m). The Pandora Papers allege that the profits gained from this embezzlement were siphoned off through a series of financial arrangements and secret offshore accounts. Documents from the Pandora Papers details how in June 2003, three businessmen including Fedotov established three offshore trusts in New Zealand naming themselves and their family members as sole beneficiaries. After just two years, the trusts came to control a complex financial system which spanned various tax havens including the British Virgin Islands Malta and Luxembourg. Prominent lawyers hired by The Guardian newspaper claimed that the complex system of tax and financial structures was purposely created to conceal any links between the trusts and their owners. In light of the claims published in the Pandora Papers, Mr. Fedotov denied any allegation of wrongdoing and insisted that he had ‘never had an interest in British politics, and has operated in an open and transparent manner throughout the course of his career.’ Despite the alleged lobbying by Aquind, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy has yet to come to a decision on whether the company will be granted the contract to lay cables between Portsmouth and Normandy. An official spokesman added that the decision will be made ‘solely’ by Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng.

UK Anti-Vaxxers Irked by Vaccination of Children Maria Gilani, BA Global Development and International Relations

From September 2021, the UK’s school-based Covid-19 vaccination programme began offering the first dose of the vaccine to 12–15-year-olds with parental consent. The programme was widely acknowledged and appreciated by pupils and parents nationwide due to the role of the vaccine in providing immunity against the virus, making schools safer and decreasing the likelihood of another lockdown. However, the vaccination programme was met with opposition by the UK’s anti-vaxxer population who objected to the government’s latest rollout. This is due to children’s inability to give consent for themselves and that the vaccine is dangerous and experimental. Across the UK, anti-vaxxers are being reported for targeting and intimidating school-aged children trying to receive the vaccine. According to the BBC in an article published on


9 October, Grace Baker-Earle (15) and her mother Angela Baker-Earle (44) from Cardiff were victims of verbal abuse from anti-vaxxers when entering Cardiff ’s Bayside vaccination centre. The protestors singled out Angela accusing her of using her daughter as a ‘lab rat’ and calling the pair’s decision to get vaccinated ‘ridiculous.’ The BBC also reported that Ms Barker-Earle described the incident as ‘incredibly unpleasant’ and ‘intimidating,’ as protestors even surrounded her car as she tried to leave the centre with her daughter. Southern Wales Police were called to the area in response to keep anti-vaxxers from harassing other members of the public. Similarly, as reported in the Evening Standard on 24 September, police were called in to a school in Nottingham where anti-vax campaigners became increasingly threatening. Chilwell School’s Headmaster, David Phillips, reported protestors setting up in the school car park and leafleting the school’s pupils in an effort to stop them from accepting the vaccination jab. The Evening Standard published that

teachers at the school also received threatening emails and voice messages in regard to the vaccination of children in the school. A campaigner even entered the school reception and served a mock cease and desist letter as an expression of protest. The parliamentary under-secretary of the Department for Education’s (DfE) Alex Burghart responded to recent events calling the protestors’ behaviour ‘abhorrent’ and urging targeted schools to contact the DfE so that such issues could be ‘followed up.’ Maggie Throup, vaccine minister, also responded saying school’s shouldn’t ‘be afraid to speak to the police if they face intimidation.’ Health ministers continue to urge the public to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Vaccine hesitant individuals can find more information about immunisation on the NHS website and at GOV.UK.


National News


Exeter Students Protest Against Society Which Held ‘Prayer Vigils’ Outside of Abortion Clinic

Exeter University students with protest signs at the sit-in on 13 October 2021 (Credit: Max Brownridge)

Frances Howe, LLB Content warning: abortion, ‘pro-life’ perspectives and sexual assault On 13 October 2021, hundreds of students at the University of Exeter gathered to protest against the University of Exeter’s Students’ Guild’s support for the Exeter Students for Life society (ESFL). The sit-in was organised by Sit Down N Shut Up, a movement created this March to raise awareness on the rising sexual assault cases occurring at the university. ESFL states that they ‘promote and encourage a culture of life among the students on our university campus at Exeter. We advocate against abortion, promoting the dignity of human life and striving for its protection.’ The society, which costs five pounds to join, is affiliated with the Exeter University Students’ Guild. The Guild has said that the society has never received any funding from them. Via social media on 27 July 2021, the student president of ESFL stated that they are ‘pro-life and anti-abortion because I want to end the murders happening every day and because I want to see people saved.’ They also stated that ‘abortion is part of the rebellion against God’ and equated participating in abortion as a sin. The society does not identify with any religious affiliation. Instead, it identifies as secular. Despite this, the society this year had organised ‘prayer vigils’ outside of abortion centres. In a private Facebook group titled Pro-Life Exeter, a post on 26 June advertised the ‘40 days for life campaign’ stating: ‘There will be prayer vigils outside of an abortion centre to publicly pray, witnessing and visual displays. This will be done peacefully and will act as a way to educate others


(mothers, people passing by, pro-choice people etc.)’ The University of Exter’s Students’ Guild published a statement on 4 October 2021 in defence of its affiliation with the society: ‘As your Students’ Guild, we support freedom of speech. We want to foster an environment where our members can participate fully, feel able to question and challenge, express new ideas, discuss controversial and or unpopular opinions within the law - all without fear of intolerance or discrimination.’ Sit Down N Shut Up has published two open letters directed to the University of Exeter and to the Students’ Guild. In the letter dated 4 October 2021, the organisation stated: ‘By allowing this society to push an anti-choice narrative on campus, not only does it trigger and shame anyone that has had an abortion, but it may prevent people from making the right decisions for themselves should they ever be in such a position.’ This letter had gained 2441 student signatures by 20 October 2021. In the open letter dated 12 October 2021, Sit Down N Shut Up responded to statements made by the Guild. The group demanded ‘the immediate disaffiliation of the ‘Exeter Students for Life’ society,’ an apology from the Guild to the student body, and increased transparency in how societies can gain affiliation with the Guild including any safeguards to ensure that societies ‘do not threaten the welfare of students.’ As of 19 October 2021, an online petition calling for the disaffiliation of the society by the Guild had gained over 9,000 signatures. According to the Tab, Oxford and Exeter are accompanied by a further 15 out of 24 Russell Group universities to have ‘pro-life’ societies. On 7 October 2021, students at the University of Oxford removed parts of the Oxford Students for Life freshers fair stall. According to an article published in The Telegraph on 7 October, several students placed

pamphlets displayed at the stall into a bin on the second day of the fair. Oxford Students for Life published a statement on Twitter in response to The Telegraph article and stated ‘We were sorry that a small minority of students thought such intimidation tactics were ok, or would be effective.’ The society has since disabled the ability to leave comments on their Instagram page.

“...not only does it trigger and shame anyone that has had an abortion, but it may prevent people from making the right decisions for themselves should they ever be in such a position.” In speaking with the SOAS Spirit on 15 October 2021, a spokesperson for the Oxford University Students’ Union stated: ‘Unlike most student unions, Oxford SU has no control over which student societies can exist, the rules they have to follow or the materials that they choose to publish or promote. Societies are registered by our Proctors’ Office, which is a central university body - so student societies (including OSFl) receive no funding from us, and we have no say in whether they are formally recognised or not.’ The statement also included: ‘All registered societies are allowed to have a stall at the Fair so long as they apply for a spot on time, and we cannot turn away any registered society on the grounds of their beliefs, in accordance with our university’s rules on free speech.’


National News

Running Out of Fuel:


Brexit and Covid-19 wreak havoc as the UK faces an unnerving fuel crisis

Esso Petroleum service station (Credit: slimmer_jimmer via Creative Commons)

Devashree Juvekar, MA Global Media and Communications Fuel prices in the UK reached the highest level since 2013 as the average price of a litre of unleaded reached 135-13p in August this year. In the first week of September 2021, the average petrol price at UK forecourts was 136.1p a litre. The price of diesel rose to 139.2p. The hike in price is attributed to the rise in global demand for fuel as economies emerge out of lockdowns. In the United Kingdom, however, the situation was particularly dire and forced the government to deploy the army to combat the crisis of fuel shortage. Gas stations across the UK witnessed long queues of people anxiously waiting to fill up their cars. As many as twothirds of the Petrol Retailers Association’s and nearly 5,500 independent retail outlets ran out of fuel in the last week of September 2021, with the rest following soon. However, what has been tagged as a shortage of fuel is in reality a ‘shortage of labour.’ The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said that as of September, there was a shortage of more than 100,000 lorry drivers from a pre-covid total of approximately 600,000. The shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers has disrupted supply chains of fuel and food industries, causing ripple effects in gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. This shortage in lorry drivers came about due to a number of reasons. Given the lockdowns because of the pandemic, travel became increasingly restricted last year as large parts of the


economy shut down. Many European drivers went home and haulage companies say very few have returned. The pandemic also generated a large backlog in HGV driver tests making it difficult to get enough new drivers up and running. Making things worse is Brexit. Many European drivers who went back home or decided to work elsewhere are unable to return due to new immigration rules. When the UK was part of the single European market, they were able to come and go as they pleased. New bureaucracy and the decline in the value of the pound against the euro since the Brexit vote has made it less attractive for EU nationals to work in the UK. Since Brexit, Britain has imposed checks on goods coming from the EU, delaying transportation. As many drivers are paid by the mile rather than by the hour, these new policies create delays that cost them money. Making this worse are the tax changes that have made it more expensive for drivers from elsewhere in Europe to work or be employed in the UK. Haulier companies said that the average age of HGV drivers in the UK is 55 and many of them are now retiring. They also expressed the need for better facilities for long-distance drivers to use and recognition that they are a vital part of the economy. To combat this issue, the Boris Johnson government introduced a temporary visa scheme, whereby 5,000 visas will be issued for foreign drivers making it easier for them to work in the UK. The scheme is set to run for three months, ending on Christmas eve. The government has also suspended the competition law. This will allow oil firms to target fuel deliveries at petrol stations following recent panic buying.

It will allow companies to share information and prioritise parts of the country most in need, working together to minimise disruption. The government has also confirmed plans to speed up the process of obtaining an HGV driver licence. The government will make up to 50,000 more HGV driving tests available each year, shortening the application and testing process. The most drastic step of all was the deployment of around 200 military personnel as part of Operation Escaline to help ease fuel supply constraints. Almost 200 servicemen and women - 100 of them drivers - provided ‘temporary’ support. However, the industry is sceptical if the measures taken by the government will actually help the fuel crisis. Brian Madderson, the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, said that the use of the military ‘isn’t going to be the major panacea. It’s a large help but in terms of the volume, they are not going to be able to carry that much. Expect anything from 1, 2 or even 3p a litre increases at the pump. This is not profiteering. This is genuine wholesale price increases caused by global factors.’ Paul Jackson, MD of temperature-controlled logistics firm Chiltern Distribution told the BBC, ‘We don’t put newlyqualified drivers straight behind the wheel on their own. We buddy them up with experienced drivers for the first eight to 10 weeks. The insurance costs for new drivers are also much higher.’ He added, ‘We desperately need to put HGV drivers on the list of skilled workers we can bring in from abroad.’



International News

International News

What has Changed?: Women in Afghanistan Chris Hoellriegl, MSc. Development Studies When international troops left Afghanistan on 30 August and the Taliban took over the last bits of the capital Kabul, the rest of the world seemed paralyzed with shock. After two decades of war and peace building efforts, many feared that the notoriously brutal Taliban regime between 1996 and 2001 would reinstate itself and cancel out achievements up until then. The conservative perception regarding the role of women supported by the Taliban presented reasons for concern during the G20 summit on the future role of development assistance for Afghanistan. While all summit members agreed to entrust the UN with the coordination of further help, there was no daylight between the participants regarding the fact that the Taliban have to recognize women’s rights – especially access to education. Many however question whether this is realistic as the situation of women has already changed since the takeover. The Taliban’s position regarding women’s education is not as radical as in the 1990s when limited education was

permitted. However, universities are no longer allowed to facilitate courses for male and female students together. Minister for higher education, Abdul Baghi Hakkani states that ‘co-education contradicts the principles of Islam as well as national values, customs and traditions.’

“Since September, girls are only allowed to attend primary schools and are excluded from secondary education.” If gender segregation is impossible, universities have to ensure that separate study timetables guarantee no crossgender education. The separation also includes teaching. Female students are supposed to predominantly be taught by female professors. Men may only teach in alignment with the Sharia rules. The Taliban´s plans on female education are not limited

to tertiary education. Since September, girls are only allowed to attend primary schools and are excluded from secondary education. According to a recent UNESCO report, female literacy in Afghanistan nearly doubled under US occupation to 30% in 2018. The number of girls attending classes rose from close to zero in 2001 to 2.5 million in 2018, representing nearly 50% of all primary students. The newly established Taliban government only constitutes men. The same applies for the fact that former female judges went underground, fearing vengeance of newly released prisoners. Female journalists like Beheshta Arghand felt pressured to leave the country. In an interview with Reuters, she claimed that ‘when a group of people don’t accept you as a human, they have some picture in their mind of you, it’s very difficult.’ Monika Hauser, founder of the Afghan women’s rights organization ‘Medica Mondale’ has a more hopeful outlook on the situation for women in Afghanistan. Arguing that, the social consciousness amongst men and women has been shaped over the past two decades by female lawyers, doctors and students.

Former Chinese Officer Reveals Uyghur Treatment

Chinese President Xi Jinping (Credit: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

Gunda Pavilonytė, BA Chinese Content warning: racial violence A Chinese whistleblower exposes guards and police officers tactics used in President Xinjiang’s re-education camps. For years, stories of arbitrary arrest, unspeakable cruelty, and mass internment camps have been surfacing surrounding Xinjiang. The province is in the far western region of China and mainly inhabited by Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority. There have been numerous testimonies of ex-detainees describing the experiences in the detention camps. However, for the first time a former Chinese police officer has come forward with a story. The defector, who asked to be identified as Jiang in order


to protect his family members who remain in China, has spoken about his involvement in the detention camps in extracting confessions. According to him, officials treated Xinjiang like a war zone, with police officers saying that Uyghurs were enemies of the state. Jiang said that if he had resisted the process he would have been arrested too. When recalling the routine overnight operations, he explained that they would be given lists with names of people to arrest and were instructed to meet official quotas on the numbers of Uyghurs to detain. If civilians resisted the arrest, the police officers would ‘hold the gun against (their) head. If you move, you will be killed.’ He also described how teams of police officers would search people’s houses and download the data from their computers and phones. Another tactic was to use the area’s neighborhood committee to call the local population together for a meeting with the village chief before detaining them en masse. ‘It’s all

planned,’ Jiang said. ‘Everyone needs to hit a target.’ He has also revealed how detainees that had travelled to other parts of China were transported back to Xinjiang in their hundreds in packed freight trains: ‘We gather them together, put hoods on their head, two people handcuffed together, to prevent them from escaping,’ he told Sky News. ‘During the train transportation we do not give them food,’ Jiang recalled. ‘They are only allowed bottle caps to drink water - to moisten their lips. To keep order, we don’t let them go to the toilet.’ In the detention centre prisoners including women and even children as young as 14 years old were being hung from the ceiling and tortured during the interrogation process. Jiang described how during his duty he was ordered to beat, sexually assault and electrocute detainees. Waterboarding was also used as a way to force confessions of terrorist acts. Shockingly, one ‘very common measure’ of torture and dehumanization was for guards to order prisoners to rape and abuse the new male inmates. ‘Everyone uses different methods. Some even use a wrecking bar, or iron chains with locks,’ Jiang said. ‘Police would step on the suspect’s face and tell him to confess.’ These suspects were accused of terror offenses, but he believes that ‘none’ of the hundreds of prisoners he was involved in arresting had committed a crime: ‘They are ordinary people.’ When asked what he would do if faced any of his former victims, Jiang replied that he would be ‘scared’ and would ‘leave immediately.’ He continued, ‘even if you’re just a soldier, you’re still responsible for what happened. You need to execute orders, but so many people did this thing together. We’re responsible for this.’ China repietedly denies reports of any human rights abuses, stating that ‘the so-called genocide in Xinjiang is nothing but a rumor backed by ulterior motives and outright lies,’ as said by Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman. They assure that the camps are vocational, seeking to combat separatism and terrorism in the country. It is estimated that up to 2 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been detained in Xinjiang’s internment camps since 2017.


International News


How Spoons Became A Symbol of Palestinian Resistance

An artist in Gaza City finishes a mural celebrating the escape of six Palestinian detainees featuring a spoon being clutched by a raised fist. (Credit: Mahmud Hams)

Viandito Pasaribu, BA Politics and International Relations Following the escape of six Palestinian inmates from an Israeli prison on 6 September, protests in solidarity with the escapees took place where spoons were seen waved alongside Palestinian flags. The kitchen utensil has become a potent emblem of resistance against the violence committed by the Israeli state against Palestinians. A spoon was reportedly used by the prisoners to break out of the Gilboa maximum security prison located six miles from the West Bank. According to the lawyer of one of the detainees, Mahmoud Abdallah Ardah, spoons, plates, and kettle handles were used to dig a tunnel out of the cell where he and his accomplices were kept. The most senior member of the group, Zakaria Zubeidi, had been a commander of the alAqsa Martyr’s Brigades in the West Bank town of Jenin prior to his arrest. Zubeidi filed a request to be transferred to the cell where the five other escapees were staying the day before, which was accepted by the prison authority. An investigation into the incident by the Israeli intelligence service Shin Bet has determined that the tunnel was dug in secret beginning in December of last year. Images which were circulated on social media indicate that a gap in the wall behind a sink had allowed the inmates to access the prison’s drainage system. Artists from Palestine and throughout the Arab world have been inspired by the role of ‘the miraculous spoon’ in


the escape to create works portraying it as a token of defiance against the Israeli security apparatus. Mohammed Sabaaneh, a cartoonist, has claimed that the prison break has ‘exposed the Israeli security system to ridicule,’ and has made several caricatures with the spoon taking center stage. The Kuwaiti artist Maitham Abdal has sculpted a hand in a pose reminiscent of the Black Power fist clutching a ‘spoon of freedom,’ which has become a common name for the icon in activist circles. The Internet virality of the escape has also led to the symbol of the spoon gaining popularity among everyday Palestinians throughout not only the Palestinian territories, but in Israel as well.

“Artists from Palestine and throughout the Arab world have been inspired by the role of ‘the miraculous spoon’ in the escape to create works portraying it as a token of defiance against the Israeli security apparatus.” Photos taken by AFP photographers show the spoon being brandished by protestors in northern Israel rallying against retributive punishment carried out by the Israeli

Prison Service against Palestinians in the aftermath of the escape. Additionally, gatherings in front of the Dome of the Rock and in the city of Khan Yunis in Gaza also feature the icon. A nationwide manhunt went underway in Israel to recapture the six escapees after the incident. Four of the detainees were recaptured on September 11th and the remaining two were found on 19 September by Israeli authorities. The group had to walk seven miles to reach a town where they thought they could get help in returning to the West Bank and were reported several times to the police in the vicinity of Gilboa prison. This dispelled previous speculation that the escape was thoroughly planned in coordination with armed Palestinian groups, wrote the Times of Israel. Renowned human rights lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, is representing Zakaria Zubeidi, and claims that the Israeli police beat him upon learning his identity in an interview with the Associated Press. He also claimed that Zubeidi had to be taken to hospital and given painkillers for fractures in his jaw and two of his ribs. Zubeidi was sent back to custody on 11 September. Since the escape of the six inmates, spoons have been used to signify ‘determine, vigilance, and cunning,’ as writes Sarah Orabi, by the pro-Palestinian movement across the world. The most notable occurrence was in the United States on 20 September, when demonstrators occupied the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.


2 NOVEMBER 2021 Opinion editor: Leehoo Pansky

The SOAS Spirit Takes On COP26:


White Voices in Green Movements

Climate protesters in London (Credit: Gabriel Rahman)

Clarissa Mondeh, Anthropology and World Philosophies Environmental movements live in a continuous contradiction. Those most affected by climate change in the world are People of Colour (POCs). Yet, almost all of the green movements that have gained traction in recent years are predominantly white. This lack of representation intensifies sentiments regarding the nature of decision making in green politics and movements whereby solutions are being done ‘to’ people rather than ‘by’ people. The common rhetoric of changing to a sustainable diet is a prime example of this, whereby an unrealistic onus is put on individual action whilst neglecting deeper issues such as the redistribution of land ownership. Yet, the issue should also not be seen solely as a lack of representation. It is ultimately concerned with outward appearance, allowing the impression that POCs are being ‘heard.’ That being said, are we being listened to? The solutions propounded by green movements fail to convince us of this. As exemplified above, there appears to be a lack of focus on the systemic nature of the problem, that would ultimately expose the intersections between environmental degradation, race, and class. Green movements seemingly lack awareness of the interconnectedness between various social issues and the environment. This leads to the ostracization of POCs; by caring about the environment, we realise that a story of climate change which omits a deep recognition of the history of colonialism is only a story half told. It is for this reason that groups such as LION - Land In Our Names, a London based initiative - attempt to heal both


the earth from past and ongoing damage caused by colonial extractive practices as well as the individual trauma faced by POCs due to land dispossession. This two-fold scarring endured both by persons and the environment echoes through the hollowness of common rhetoric within climate movements surrounding our ‘future generations.’ Ultimately, there will be no safe future until the past has been healed. The mobilisation of alternative spaces of resistance that centre POC voices makes me question whether participation in mainstream green politics and movements is even desirable? When one’s own history is nowhere to be found within a movement, it is also hard to find oneself within that group. A shift in focus is required.

“Until the green movement acknowledges that history takes on a mirage of colours relentlessly seeping into today, it will remain a space of whiteness.” Instead of seeing the climate crises’ time frame as the present and future, we must realise that the environmental damage evidenced today is part of a larger history. This is related to colonialism and subjugation. Until the green movement acknowledges that history takes on a mirage of colours relentlessly seeping into today, it will remain a space of whiteness. In Britain, the form of resistance used by Extinction

Rebellion (XR) remains exclusive to predominantly white participants. This is because of the continual threat of racist institutions such as the police, serving as an unsettling reminder of the privilege that the justice system affords to white individuals. The disruptive tactics are given as a reason, both by white and POC activists, for the one sided representation within environmental groups. Nonetheless, we should not end the story here. A paradox arises when one realises that the ‘radical’ actions employed by XR find their origin within indigenous environmental movements such as the Indigenous Environmental Network. The methods of mobilisation used by XR are in fact inherited by POCs. The same methods are an alienation tool within a British context. The main issue I see lies not in the usage of tactics that have been proven successful by other environmental activists, but rather the complete lack of acknowledgement of the ancestral and cultural legacy from which these practices originate. Fuel is added to a burning fire of ignorance when strategies employed by green movements - for example disrupting public transport - disproportionately target POCs and working class livelihoods. The radicality of the action is questionable. With Britain as a backdrop, the arrests and railings against the government seem radical enough. Situate that in a global perspective and nothing changes; POCs remain at the bottom of a century old food chain. Green movements and politics make it clear that the environment affects us all. As of yet, any hope of connection to it and to a clearer future is still only the privilege of some.




The SOAS Spirit Takes On COP26:

An Open Letter to The Government

Jacob John Herbert, MA International Studies and Diplomacy Dear HM Government,

I am writing ahead of COP26 which will be held in Glasgow from the 31st of October. This event has been much anticipated around the world, but anticipation does not always equate to action as we have seen in the woeful failures of COP25. The 2021 IPCC report states that ‘it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.’ If your rhetoric is to be believed you understand this well, however this has not yet been translated into action. There still seems to be a sense that science will come along as a knight in shining armour to solve the issue of global warming (for example in Prince William’s recent statement suggesting that resources used for space exploration should be redirected into climate science), but in many ways the scientists have already done their job. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology can be used to reduce the CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels by 90%, and was first introduced 25 years ago. No national rollout of CCS technology has ever happened. The cost of solar panels fell by 82% between 2010 and 2019, and yet in recent years the growth of this method of energy production has slowed in the UK . What is missing is the political momentum to bring about a transition away from fossil fuels. Boris Johnson claimed this year that Britain’s success

in COVID vaccinations was thanks to the almighty free market economy. The veracity of this claim aside, in the case of global warming the market cannot be trusted to find a solution to a problem that it has exacerbated. Oil and gas companies continue to invest billions of dollars each year in developing new fossil fuel reserves, while running marketing campaigns advertising their work on renewable energy technology. ‘Greenwashing’ is commonplace today, with companies hijacking public support for climate action for profit. The market is very effective at driving profits, and to do so only needs to address companies’ public images rather than promote profound changes in practice. There is a common phrase when talking about our reliance on fossil fuels that ‘the stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.’ Intervention is essential in order to change behaviours in a way that will begin to address the climate emergency. The number of potential policies to implement is enormous, and debates around these are hard fought, however there are a number of clear issues that must be addressed. The first of these is the amount of subsidies paid by the taxpayer to fossil fuel companies. The IMF recently found that globally this amounts to $11million every minute; a staggering sum. In a country where public services are chronically underfunded, few would agree that this is an acceptable use of public funds. Secondly, Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement (2015) sets out the goal of establishing a global carbon market. Measures such as these have been shown to be effective in the

EU (through their Emissions Trading Scheme) and the US (the Clean Air Act Amendments reducing SO2 emissions). A key aim of COP26 must be to establish a clear plan for implementing this commitment. Thirdly, the recent global energy crisis has pushed countries all around the world further into the embrace of the fossil fuel industry, with some states such as China even expanding their coal consumption despite the well known climate and public health risks of this fuel. However, this crisis also underlines the fragility of the worldwide fossil fuel industry. In this way, a transition towards domestic renewable energy sources would also bolster the UK’s energy security in the future. The government’s hypocrisy on climate change must be addressed as an urgent priority. On the one hand we see Johnson telling world leaders at the UN to ‘grow up’ and face their responsibilities regarding the climate, and on the other, the government approves the expansion of oil fields in the North Sea. Rather than promoting ‘Global Britain’ through military alliances or trade agreements, we have an opportunity to be a strong voice of leadership in response to the climate emergency. If only the political will to do so can be found. I hope we will not be disappointed.

Sincerely, Jacob John Herbert.

Resilience Is Coming Leehoo Benaya Pansky, LLB The environmental arena is filled to the brim with frameworks - not targets. Instead, structures exist meant to facilitate fictitious targets. I’ve always found that at the root of these is the overarching framework of discourse. Language is a powerful tool and invoking certain phrases within environmental debate signifies direction, concepts and structures meant to solve the very looming fate of environmental degradation. Take for example environmental principles, sprinkle them into legislation, and suddenly it begins to shape policy, and cultural attitudes. Or ‘sustainability’ - a phrase we have come to hear countless times either by itself or with its neoliberal best friend: development. Does this language ever amount to something? Discussion regarding this will inevitably digress into a heated debate. Nonetheless, I have come to fear a different phrase, one which I see as more than a hollow promise, requiring precautions designed to self-defend. Resilience. Webster’s dictionary defines resilience as…… no, I think we are all aware of the definition of resilience. Enduring through difficult times might be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, within the realm of environmental discourse resilience signifies something a little different, or perhaps precisely not.The discussion of resilience is in no way a new


one, neither is the criticism I’m about to part-take in yet I find this discussion essential for two major reasons. Firstly, while resilience has long been around, the use of it in discourse has begun to increase. The first example that comes to mind is its use in the Draft Environmental Principle Policy Statement, which accompanies the Environmental Bill. Secondly, because I see the significance of resilience as much more pertinent today than earlier discussions of the concept which made it a simile for false optimism. In comparison to today, where the sinking realisation that global ‘efforts’ to address environmental degradation have failed. This is because the aforementioned frameworks have not functioned with the level of ‘efficiency’ initially predicted.

“It fails to propose remedy or mitigation of our current reality, it avoids radical change of a pessimistic reality, something only the privileged can afford.” I find that there are two broad definitions

which resilience has within environmental discourse. It can either be a reference to a social-ecological system’s ability to continuously change while remaining within the tipping point - threshold. Or, the idea of surviving but not thriving. Both may seem similar yet they open doors for two fatal difficulties. The former accepts the status quo. It maintains that if we accept A poster from a protest in London (Credit: Gabriel Rahman) it, we can stay. It fails to propose remedy or mitigation of our curCOP26 is here and with it resilience. I do rent reality and avoids radical change of not purport to be some kind of expert, I’m a pessimistic reality - something only the just an over-caffeinated university student. privileged can afford. Importantly, even Yet, it seems inconceivable to me that resilacceptance of such pessimism is futile as it ience will not be a key word in COP26. Put rests on the assumptions that the ecosystems differently what’s more likely: world leaders around us can be predictable in some sense. come together in a blaze of glory to radically The latter is equally damaging, entering reform the international arena and take capipolicy and culture into a stay of life-boat talism from within the state apparatus which ethics. This makes people, *cough cough* the supports it, entering the world into a new age global south, the financially disadvantaged of harmony and equity, sort of like the series and non-white people expandable. finale of ATLA. Resilience is unacceptable, not because Orr…. that they will adopt discourse I’m some big time optimist who believes which not only legitimises the status quo but that we can get out of this mess on the back further justifies future oppressive policies. of some misconstrued framework of susAgain, I’m no expert so I’ll leave that questainability, but because the alternative is tion for all of you to mull over. Until then, I unacceptable. Yet, this term has crept into just wanted to get on this horse, ring a bell, legislation and policy in all areas. Perhaps and scream resilience is coming, resilience is more importantly, it is about to make a grand coming. appearance at a certain conference.





Victim or Terrorist? A Decade of Silence.

‘Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is an innocent Pakistani citizen facing physical and mental torture in America’, Mike Gravel - former US Senator. (Credit: Creative Commons, Muhammed Siddiqui)

Amelia Casey-Rerhaye, BA Arabic 86 years for a crime with no evidence. That was effectively the sentence given to Aafia Siddiqui in September 2010. It has been 18 years since her older sister, Fouzia, started campaigning for her innocence. In a twitter storm earlier this month, the Aafia Foundation, headed by Fouzia Siddiqui and supporters, demanded that the silence surrounding Dr. Siddiqui’s story be broken. The hashtag #IAmAafia trended on the social media platform in a rush of impassioned solidarity with Siddiqui, aiming to put pressure on American officials to release her. Along with the twitter storm were announcements of five protests to ‘raise awareness of a great miscarriage of justice, and the innocence and plight of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’. Two have already taken place in Houston and Fort Worth, Texas, and most recent being on Wednesday 20 October in New York City followed by two more in Boston and Washington DC. In a press conference in 2004, the US Attorney General John Ashcroft declared Dr Siddiqui as among the ‘seven most wanted’ figures of Al-Qaeda. This came after the FBI declared globally that they wanted Aafia Siddiqui in for questioning, a

statement quickly followed by her disappearance. Ashcroft’s declaration also came as poll numbers for the Bush administration plummeted and, along with a Newsweek statement calling Siddiqui ‘the most threatening suspect of the group [Al-Qaeda],’ successfully pushed headlines of the failings of the invasion of Iraq off the news front pages. The reasoning behind these statements are clear. Following 9/11, US authorities were on high alert for suspicious activity - and it is no secret that they especially targeted the muslim community. Dr. Siddiqui was an impassioned muslim woman, educated and living in the US with her husband, Amjad Kahn, and two children. In early 2002, the couple were questioned by the FBI regarding ‘suspicious’ online purchases. These were supplies for a camping trip which included hunting gear, a bullet proof vest and survival guides. Later that year they moved back to Pakistan and divorced while Dr. Aafia was pregnant with their third child. Were the claims made in 2004 valid? According to Amjad Khan in an interview with the Guardian in 2009 his ex-wife was ‘so pumped up about the jihad’, one cause that led to their divorce. He outrightly contradicted Siddiqui’s family and accused them of lying about her whereabouts during her disappearance between 2003 and 2008, saying she was actually ‘on the run’. Conversely, Fouzia repeated over the

‘Is this a triumphant story from the West’s ‘War on Terror’ as the US claims, or is it another biased conviction drenched in islamophobia and gaslighting?’ years that her sister had been abducted, raped, and tortured while held in the Bagram detention centre in Afghanistan by US agents. The contradiction of storylines is enough to give anyone whiplash. The US denies ever having Dr. Siddiqui in their custody before the events of 2008, yet prisoners from Bagram described a haunting female prisoner, widely believed to be Dr. Aafia, who was around for roughly two years. Further investigation by British journalist Yvonne Ridley revealed a figure dubbed ‘the Grey lady of Bagram’ keeping prisoners awake with ‘haunting sobs and piercing screams’. In 2005 a group of male prisoners went on hunger strike for six days allegedly in protest against her treatment. The clashing accounts make coming to a conclusion near impossible. On one hand she’s a terrorist hiding from authorities and helping Osama bin Laden. On the other she’s

an innocent victim of America’s islamophobic obsession with the ‘War on Terror.’ Even less clear is her ‘reappearance’ in 2008 outside a government compound with her son in Ghazni. Found in possession of documents handwritten by her in both English and Urdu that describe details of a terrorist plot on New York City - these were later claimed ot have been written under threat of torture and harm to her children - Dr. Siddiqui was taken into custody by Afghan police. US officials were called in to question her, and then either one of the two following accounts took place. According to the prosecution, Siddiqui grabbed an M-4 rifle from the ground by the soldiers, attempted to shoot them - missed - and was finally shot in the abdomen. However, Siddiqui’s side of the story goes slightly differently: she peeked around the curtain concealing her, then attempted to run for fear of being captured and tortured again by US agencies. A soldier then cried ‘she’s free!’ before shooting, hitting her in the abdomen. The evidence upholding the prosecution was extremely lacking, witnesses couldn’t agree on the number of people in the room nor the amount of shots fired. There was also no forensic evidence of the M-4 rifle having been fired, only evidence of the soldier’s handgun. There is no denying that Dr. Siddiqui may very well be an extremist. She referred to herself as a martyr in court rather than a prisoner, and she repeatedly cried out antisemitic statements and labelled Jewish people as ‘backstabbing.’ So why was she not tried as the terrorist that, five years previously, had been such a threat? As Bruce Hoffman, professor of Security Studies at Georgetown University, succinctly put it: ‘There’s no intelligence data that needs to be introduced, no sources and methods that need to be risked. It’s a good old-fashioned crime; it’s the equivalent of a 1920s gangster with a tommy gun.’ The fact that Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years incarceration on flimsy evidence for an ‘attempted’ crime to, in comparison to, for example, the wealthy white American man Jeffrey Epstein who in his first trial pleaded guilty to one of two counts of procuring girls under 18 for prostitution and was sentenced to 18 months incarceration, says more about how justice can be met out in the USA than can be concluded about Dr. Siddiqui. Is this a triumphant story from the West’s ‘War on Terror’ as the US claims or is it another biased conviction drenched in islamophobia and gaslighting? And considering the attitudes surrounding Muslims and Islam as a religion, could the judge and jury possibly have been unbiased? As the former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark put it: ‘the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is the worst case of individual injustice I have ever witnessed.’

A banner showing an image of Aafia Siddiqui demanding her freedom (Credit: Fellowship of Reconiliation)




Artemis’ Amman

Marhaba and welcome to Artemis’ Amman. In this column, I aim to bring to light questions relating to heritage, legacy and history. Over this year, we will look at how they interconnect in Amman, Jordan where I am doing my Arabic year abroad. I hope to use the medium of storytelling to look at political and social issues through a personal and therefore, focused, lens.

An Evening in Amman: Habibi Funk

Fadoul on the cover of a Habibi Funk release (Credit: Habibi Funk Records)

Artemis Sianni-Wedderburn, BA Hons Politics and Arabic Ahlan wa Sahlan - welcome to Artemis’ Amman. In this column, I bring stories from Amman to London through the platform of The Spirit. I hope to share with you a sliver of the ‘City of Stairs’ and what I am doing there on my Year Abroad. I was asked in my Arabic speaking class to describe my first week in Jordan - my (lack of) vocabulary and I didn’t get much further than ‘El3ab Yalla’ (Yalla, lets go). I thought I would share it with you instead. In October, I interviewed Berlin-based DJ and music producer Jannis Stürtz, better known as ‘Habibi Funk’. I was very lucky to get a ticket to his sold out gig - an evening of Libyan reggae, Sudanese jazz, and Tunisian disco followed at ‘Cellar’ in Amman. Two days later, I met Jannis. Over an almond cappuccino at ‘Rumi Cafe,’ we started talking about what he does and why anybody should care. The role of a music producer seems simple - facilitate the release of music in a way that suits the artist and label, pleasing, motivating, and inspiring others. This is the base for Habibi Funk, yet the music is not in any way written or modified by the label. Habibi Funk aims to release in the original format, usually first heard as a disc. The vinyl nature of the records ties into the crucial aspect of making this music digitally available. I have yet to meet someone who walks around London with a record player. You might not think that Libyan reggae would be a clubbing soundtrack - and you would be wrong. The tracks ‘don’t need the boost’ of a remix, instead their timeless nature brings an afternoon in Benghazi to a club in Amman - and


Ahmed Ben Ali on the cover of a Habibi Funk release (Credit: Habibi Funk Records)

makes you dance. Habibi Funk - like mint tea - has its origins in Morocco, specifically Casablanca. The chance birth came in the form of a record by Fadoul - an artist with a passion for funk ‘sung with a punk attitude.’ His song ‘Sid Redad’ draws from James Brown’s ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’ - with Arabic lyrics and Moroccan pride. Two years of searching for Fadoul followed, not made any easier by the issue of transcribing Arabic (Fadoul had four different spellings). Ultimately, the search ended as it had started, with music and soul in Casablanca.

“It is an artists right for their music to be properly distributed” Unfortunately, Fadoul was already deceased. However, his family approved the release of the music in partnership with Habibi Funk. Jannis tells me that the profits from releases are split 50/50 between the label (to cover costs) and the artists or their families. He highlights that he does not ‘discover’ any of the music, rather provides a stage for it to be amplified. It is an artists right for their music to be properly distributed. The tagline - how the label advertises the artists - that the music is released under is reflective of this. It is a matter of balancing between creating an understandable headline whilst remaining accurate and respectful. The complexity needs to be reflected without feeding into stereotypes in terms of the language and origin. Contextualisation is important as it may help the listener understand why it is so remarkable and unique. Habibi Funk releases are eclectic and no sound identical - yet what they all have in common is that they did not exist

on an international stage beforehand. This may be due to circumstances beyond their control. For instance, Lebanese artist Issam Hajali created and released during the Lebanese civil war. The music is exceptionally personal - as all the best things are. Jannis and his team ‘find music we like, and we think more people than us might like it, and we try to amplify it.’ The eclectic blend is reflective of this, as well as the fact that sales are not expected to have massive turnovers. It is a niche interest. As with anything, there is criticism. Comments online croak that there are undertones of cultural appropriation. However, it is important to remember the role of artistic inspiration. For example, the first song by Fadoul that the label heard was inspired by the Western artist James Brown. Yet, Fadoul made it into his own - and did a fantastic job doing so. Libyan reggae artist Ahmed Ben Ali faces something similar. When asked in an interview whether his reggae was Libya’s take on reggae, he answered that it was simply reggae. Sung in Arabic, in Libya. Ben Ali’s song ‘Subhana’ has 1,150,287 streams on Spotify at the time of writing. The very fact that it is the artist’s profile that has these streams encapsulates the relationship with Habibi Funk. The wonderful thing about music is that it unites people. It does not matter what you do or what you look like - you can listen to the same song as anybody else. There is the feeling that there is a presence in your life that is by your side always. At least to me, this is what music is. You can experience this for yourself at Habibi Funk’s upcoming gig in London (10/12/21 at Jazz Cafe), where you will most definitely see me enjoying another fantastic evening with eclectic music from all over the Arab world.




A crisp packet on a park bench in Regent’s Park, London (Credit: David Martyn Hunt)

Islamophobia: The Phobia That Terrorises Others More Than The Supposed ‘Terrorists’ Anisah Islam, BA Global Liberal Arts When we think of phobias, we often think of a person who has a debilitating fear of an object or situation. It is very rare for people to have a ‘phobia’ for human beings; a xenophobe is simply a racist. There are no medical reasons behind it. When a person shows hostility towards Jewish people they are called antisemitic, as there are no chemical imbalances in your brain that makes you a bigot. But people who are islamophobic claim there is an actual reason behind their hatred. According to the Oxford dictionary ‘Islamophobia is the fear of, hatred of, or prejudice against the religion of Islam or Muslims in general.’ So when far-right activist Tommy Robinson declares that he’s ‘not talking about Muslims, he’s talking about Islam’, it’s very hard to believe him when a quick search on Youtube will clearly show him attacking Muslim people. It is argued that islamophobia truly emerged after 9/11 when the name Islam meaning the ‘religion of Peace’ was suddenly associated with terrorism. But when did it become acceptable to terrorise innocent Muslims because they ‘might be a terrorist.’ I, as a young hijabi girl, had my fair share of islamophobia when I was just seven years old. The first incident was at a park when I was with my half-white, half-Bengali cousins, and a Caucasian mum shouted ‘The ball better not hit my pram you “P’s!”’ I had never heard that word before and thought it was targeted at my cousin’s uncles who were


actually playing with the ball. I initially thought it couldn’t have been as they look the same as her. I was the only one wearing a black pull-on hijab. At that moment, I hesitantly reached up and slowly pulled off my hijab as I was scared she might scold me again. It was the first time I felt ashamed of being a Muslim. The second incident was in Wales when I was nine and a 13 year old girl called me the ‘P’ word once again. ‘There’s that word again! But why is she shouting bloody packets? I’m not a packet, I’m a human.’

‘I’m not a packet, I’m a human’ It seems funny to me now that I mistook the derogatory term for something else. But it also underlined my innocence and at how early of an age my intense fear for practicing my religion began. I grew up in East London, a predominantly Bengali community, so I never faced discriminantion on a regular basis. It was when we traveled outside my little bubble that I experienced the harsh reality of the real world. During my younger days, I would be petrified of train stations as I was worried someone might attack me. Going on a trip to Butlins made me weary of what might occur, when any other child would be thinking of what rides they might go on. I even altered my speech to not bring any attention to myself- I hated travelling with my nan as I didn’t want to communicate in Bengali, and I even called my mother ‘mum’ instead of the Bengali word ‘amma’ when we were out.

However, I didn’t know that it would get worse until I went on a school trip to France and Belgium. This truly demonstrated to me how the islamophobia I experienced in the UK was minuscule to what I faced alongside my classmates in both those countries. I experienced my first disgusted stares from French people as we walked through the market, and my first denial of access to an ice-cream shop by a Belgian customer - not even the staff. Once again my classmates and I made jokes about the situation and reminded ourselves to ‘never visit again.’ But why should people fear traveling to other countries because of how they look? Why should people avoid talking in their mother-tongue to appease people that can only speak one language? And why should a child ever feel the need to question their identity? Islamophobia is not about the fear of Islam. It’s fearing anyone who looks like they can be associated with Islam. Hence why Sikh’s are also a victim of islamophobia despite practicing another religion. Islamophobes should understand that there are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world and if we were all terrorists then why are the people, who are not letting Muslim teenagers into an icecream shop, still alive? In all seriousness, l believe all those incidents defined who I am as a Muslim today, as I did not allow myself to succumb to their bigotry. I now speak Bengali in public with confidence, I call my mother by the term I used my entire life, and I wear my hijab and surname with pride.


2 NOVEMBER 2021 Culture Editor: Mat Hick



Review: Little Simz ‘Sometimes I Might be Introvert’ Sanna Hamid, BA History and International Relations

With a refreshing sense of inner-confidence, Little Simz released her 4th studio album this year. Many people are shocked to be discovering her work only now, with the comment ‘flat out embarrassed it took me this long to discover her,’ getting almost nine thousand ‘likes’ under a music video. ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’ takes a deep dive inside Simbi’s mind (her nickname which is an acronym for the album title) as she reflects on her surroundings, reminisces on conversations with loved ones and invites the listener to see their experiences through her own. As of recent, everyone has probably felt themselves edge towards introversion at some point - this album is a ‘coruscating journey into the heart of what it means to be alive in these tumultuous times.’ The album consists of 19 tracks where, through the lens of introversion, Little Simz reflects profoundly on an impressive number of topics, such as systemic racism, social justice, black (+female) empowerment, self-belief, societal expectations, morality, love, and relationships to a backdrop of glorious instrumentals. There is also a strong afrobeats presence throughout, with Obongjayar featuring on ‘Point and Kill.’ On the masterful opener ‘Introvert’ we are given creative camera work and choreography on the music video, to compliment the hefty subjects being tackled in the song. How a pop star could be an introvert is the sort of topic that could fill a book - or an album. ‘Simz the artist or Simbi the person?’ It slips out a couple of minutes in. She dives into deep-rooted issues such as gentrification, ‘knocking down communities to re-up on properties. I’m directly affected. It does more than just bother me’. This alludes to the seemingly ever-increasing property prices in the capital, being sped up by developers who give little thought to the effects on existing communities in the areas they seek to regenerate. Through her writing, Little Simz explores her thoughts (‘I bottle up and then spill it in verses’ goes ‘Introvert’), but how does she deal with the fact that, the bigger she gets, the more people

will be let into those inner tussles? It seems it is a welcome change as she insists, ‘I think I need a standing ovation / 10 years in the game, I been patient.’

“ As of recent, everyone has probably felt themselves edge towards introversion at some point - this album is a ‘coruscrating journey into the heart of what it means to be alive in these tumultuous times.” This links to the theme of achieving your dreams, goals, and ambitions, which we see a lot of. On the track ‘How did we get here?’ Little Simz says, ‘I sit and read my own lyric books, like, damn it must’ve been destined’ or ‘I’ve come too far for me to be consumed by my fears.’ A self-proclaimed wordsmith, she entertains with rhyme and wordplay in the last song ‘Miss Understood,’ inviting the listener to ponder with her, ‘Was it all a waste of handshakes and how are yous and what you been up tos?’ Simz touches on all sorts of interpersonal relationships from her parental rifts in ‘I love you, I hate you’, to lovers and the everyday conversational friendship that we all crave. Lengthy interludes sprinkled between tracks are narrated by the posh voice of fellow Netflix star Emma Corrins, who plays Princess Diana in The Crown, which provides a breathing space between beats that mirror the messages Simz raps about, ‘your introversion led you here, intuition which protects you along the way… the top of the mountain is nothing without the climb.’ They offer mostly cliche phrases on self-belief that seem to fit well overall. This album offers a certain realness that we hardly see from her male counterparts in the hip hop/ rap scene who, for lack of better words, sometimes do put cap in their rap. Being a female rapper is tough - this is Little Simz’s first

Sometimes I might be Introvert (Credit:

album that has debuted at number four on the UK albums chart, becoming her highest charting album and first top forty. This is unlike her male peers in the industry, who have witnessed plenty of charting successes. It seems she has embarked on the ‘the journey of what it takes to be a woman.’

No Time for Misogyny Lara Holly Gibbs, MA Gender Studies The much awaited ‘No Time To Die’ finally graced cinema screens this month. Bond may not have time to die, yet the question remains, does he have time for sexism and misogyny? Historically speaking, yes. We have seen Bond’s countless instances of disrespect and questionable ideas of consent, only to cast aside one Bond girl for the next. No Time To Die begins with Bond on his retirement, with Madeleine Swann as the first Bond girl to return as his continued love interest. But when forced back into action, we encounter undeniably strong female characters. We are continuously fed badass female action throughout, portrayed as the authors of their own story and multifaceted

characters. We go on to see Madeleine Swann as a fiercely protective mother, as we delve further into her story. Lashana Lynch is cast as the first female and person of colour to play 007. More than a match for Craig’s persona, her sharp wit and, with what Lynch herself describes as ‘skilful, swift and suave,’ surely captures our attention. Another character, Paloma, makes a short yet striking appearance. Far from the image of a damsel in distress, which has been relayed to us tirelessly, Paloma kicks ass whilst wearing stilettos. The earlier days of Bond were nothing short of highly sexist. Sean Connery’s portrayal seemingly disregards all consent, while Bond is still perceived as the hero who saves the day. At that time, consent was not


exactly a hot topic, and the lack thereof was accepted as the norm. In fact, that familiar misogyny we relate to James Bond existed until quite recently. A compilation of Bond’s most misogynistic moments went viral in 2018, largely featuring Sean Connery, yet Daniel Craig is not innocent either. The last moments of the viral video featured Craig in Skyfall and his relationship to the character Sévérine, a former sex slave. Many criticised Bond’s coming onto Sévérine as more emblematic of the franchise’s objectification of women. However, to my surprise, No Time to Die seems to have a different air about it. Perhaps this is down to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s witty and apt writing intervention. Since the release of the last Bond movie, Spectre, we

have seen the #MeToo movement bring society to a reckoning with sexism. The franchise has been forced to realise its misogynistic tropes will no longer be accepted. The future of the franchise is unclear. With Bond killed at the end of No Time to Die, how will it be continued? Perhaps Lashana Lynch will take a more permanent role as 007? While Ian Fleming’s character remains a fantasy, with feminist writers like Phoebe Waller-Bridge on board, we can only hope Bond’s character continues to breakout of its long existing misogynistic narratives.




The Influx of New Black Horror Films and Their Duality

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Candyman 2021 (Credit: Parrish Lewis/Universal Pictures and MGM Pictures)

Anisah Mahamoud, BA International


Within the last decade, it is clear to see a resurgence of Black horror films. These are not limited to solely portraying Black characters, but they tell Black stories and are in many cases written by Black people. In previous media, the trope of the ‘Black hero’ was extremely popular where the token Black character dies to save the protagonist, who is usually white. This cliché found new ways to stay relevant, as the protagonist in horror films may have a token black friend who is killed off. However with this new influx of Black writers and directors creating horror films, the entire genre is getting reshaped. Candyman (2021) is the first horror film directed by a Black woman, Nia DaCosta, to be released by a major studio. The new film changes the Candyman label into a generational curse that affects Black men who have faced trauma, under a social system that favours white people. The social commentary doesn’t stop there as DaCosta focuses on the issue of the gentrification of the ‘hood’ and how that is the real horror facing the Black community. Helen Lyle, a white protagonist, ventured into the disadvantaged urban neighbourhood of Cabrini Green to study an urban legend in 1992’s Candyman. Helen’s whiteness hinders and shapes her understanding of Cabrini Green and what the Candyman himself stood for in the original, as it is told from an outsider’s perspective. Her choice to stay outside rather than inside the housing project mirrors real-life, as Black or impoverished


communities are ignored whilst their living conditions deteriorate. As a result, DaCosta’s Candyman tells this famous story through the eyes of African-Americans. She does not limit this to a commentary but focuses on the struggles that Black communities in America have faced, as they have been forced to flee their homes as a result of gentrification.

“The new film changes the Candyman label into a generational curse that affects Black men who have faced trauma in their life under a social system that favours white people.” The protagonist of 2021’s Candyman Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is a troubled artist who looks into the history of Cabrini-Green for inspiration, after hearing his girlfriend’s brother Troy tell them about the Candyman ghost story. This leads to a meeting with local laundromat owner William Burke (Colman Domingo), who claims to have been visited by Candyman as a child and recounts the true origins of the folklore. When Anthony integrates the Candyman tale into a piece named ‘Say My Name,’ he accidentally reintroduces the violent spirit into the world. Anthony’s unexpected connection to Candyman begins to take over his life as he becomes

fascinated with the folklore and the mystery behind it. Ironically, the new Candyman does not leave much room for anything else, in its attempt to illustrate the issue of gentrification. In a film about the gentrification of Black areas, there are not many scenes depicting that community. Candyman’s message, while vital and necessary, unfortunately adds to the problems that many people have with media depictions of Black trauma. The African-American experience is more than just adversity and their culture should not be portrayed in the media with such constant negative connotations. Writers like Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele are able to create accurate portrayals of the hardships that the Black community face, whilst also producing content that is pleasantly digestible. Their social commentary on issues like gentrification, poverty (as implied in ‘Us’ by Jordan Peele) and racism, produces a space where people are able to see first-hand how these issues affect those outside of their community, directly through the scope of the ones affected. Although it is extremely important to comment on these issues, it may be time to focus on more positive attributes found within Black culture. If directors maintain the Black trauma approach, Black people will constantly be reminded of their problems. It would be healthy to see positive stories surrounding the Black community.




‘The Magic Flute’: Performance and Privilege at the Royal Opera Mat Hick, MA Music Thursday saw the final performance of the 10th revival of David McVicar’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. It also marked my intrepid first steps inside the Royal Opera House. Stepping into the Royal Opera House, you get a sense of the space immediately, opulence drips down the walls and into the glasses of Moet Chandon, available to those with the money to purchase such a luxury for an interval treat. The orchestra, conducted by Richard Hetherington, introduced the opera with the ‘overture’ during which, a man walked through the upper tier of seating holding a glowing orb. The orb floated above my head for a terrifying moment, as I was briefly implicated in the performance. The glowing orb was a slightly odd interactive addition to the opera, given that it was literally over the heads of the majority of the audience. Nonetheless, the orb was an invocation as we were quickly transported into the spectacular realm of Die Zauberflote. We are introduced to protagonist Tamino, played by Bernard Richter, as he is pursued by a large serpent and is knocked unconscious. The slap-stick comedy of Birdcatcher Papageno, Peter Kellner, balanced the emotional intensity of the play with moments of lightness. His search for his ‘Papagena’, played wonderfully by Alexandra Lowe, saw moments of genuine comedy as he is put to the test by his female counterpart. A highlight of the performance was Aleksandra Olcyk’s rendition of the famous ‘Der Holle Rache’, more

commonly known as the ‘Queen of the Night Aria’. Olcyk captured the rage written into Mozart’s aria, demonstrating astonishing control in the virtuosic writing of the part. Pamina, played by Christina Gansch, was another standout performance throughout the opera, bringing a depth to the character, with beautiful performances including ‘Ah, I feel it, it has vanished.’ Throughout, the staging and costumes were exquisite, creating rich interior and exterior landscapes that included trees, rising and setting suns, and Lion King-style animals. The production was overwhelming at points, but a wonderful introduction to the grandeur of operatic performance. However, the drama of the Royal Opera House extended into the contradictions and privileges witnessed within and outside its walls. As a music scholar, I am wary of Opera and the spaces it is performed in, as a genre marked by uncomfortable legacies of cultural imperialism, as well as misogynistic narratives that subjugate women and either exclude or fetishise Black and Indigenous people. The small amount I did know about Die Zauberflote was that the libretto (text of the opera) included various moments of blatant misogyny that relegated women to the margins of a patriarchal society. These were felt in the multiple parts of the libretto that quipped about the emotional and treacherous nature of women that were met with uncomfortable laughs from around the Opera House. Despite this, the female performers stood above these narratives bringing depth to another set of female characters written into the margins. Pamina,

The Magic Flute, ROH (Credit: Bill Cooper)

Queen of the Night, and the Three Ladies were characters with genuine authority in the performance that went beyond the comedy of bolting Papageno’s mouth closed for lying about saving Tamino. Other contradictions in the space were evident before I stepped foot into the Royal Opera House. Amidst the congregations of excited audience members was a homeless person pleading, ‘You have all this money but won’t help me,’ ignored by the same groups of white faces that twenty minutes later would be captivated by lavish costumes and translated German arias. The Magic Flute was a fantastic

introduction to the drama of opera: fantastic performances, dazzling staging and iconic music accompanied wonderfully. The representation of women was challenged in the complexity brought to the characters by Olcyk and Gansch. However, leaving the Opera House, I couldn’t shake the image of how privilege was performed by the attendees, of which I’m included, and the inequality spaces like the Opera House continue to represent in our society.

The Parallels of Squid Game and Modern Society Anisah Mahamoud, BA International Relations In less than a month, Korean Drama/Thriller Squid Game has become the most talked-about show on all streaming platforms and is set to become Netflix’s most watched show. This accomplishment is enormous, not only due it being foreign, but also because of its commentary on the link between capitalism, poverty and desperation. On the show, 456 people— all of whom are in debt and in dire need of money — participate in children’s games like ‘Red Light, Green Light,' for a chance to win 45.6 billion won (roughly £28.2 million). Its popularity is unprecedented, with the hashtag ‘Squid Game’ on TikTok receiving 22.8 billion views. Squid Game has very violent and disturbing aspects due to its survival nature. Not to mention the creator Hwang Dong-hyuk’s focus on giving the characters a deep, meaningful history as to why they require the cash prize. We follow Seong Gi-Hun through his struggles with his unwell mother and his gambling problem. His addiction to the euphoria of winning is highlighted when he is approached by a man on a train station, who challenges him to a game of ‘ddakji’ complete with a cash prize. He is slapped by this stranger until he wins the game. Despite this, Seong Gi-Hun proceeds to play the game until he is victorious. This hints at the theme of desperation for financial gain and comments on the poverty crisis in South Korea. He then goes


on to play a number of childhood games alongside 455 other participants who are in a similar financial situation to him, with the premise being life or death.

“..set to become Netflix’s most watched show. This accomplishment is enormous, not only due it being a foreign show, but also because of its commentary on the link between capitalism, poverty and desperation.” Squid Game’s popularity is significant in terms of East Asian representation, due to it being a Korean show. The world’s willingness to read subtitles (which is not very difficult) allows a whole new scope of media to be digested. In the words of the director of Academy Award-winning ‘Parasite’ Bong Hoon Jo, ‘Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films’. The show portrays the constant theme of human desperation for wealth and it depicts the sacrifice that people are

willing to make for materialistic gain. If people are prepared to die instead of living in debt and poverty, does this not demonstrate how serious their situation is? Debt in South Korea has risen rapidly within the last few years to over 100% of its GDP, making it the worst rate in Asia. The net worth of the country’s top 20% earners is 166 times that of the poorest 20%, a difference that has risen by half since 2017. Hwang Dong-hyuk’s decision to base the show in modern society rather than in the future (a common theme in this genre) is a clear example of art imitating life. This experience is universal and attributes to the admiration of the show, as viewers are able to personally relate. This ability to even remotely relate to the show, defines Squid Game not only as horror in television, but as horror in society today. This phenomenon was inevitable due to the high quality of Korean media, yet some people allow the barrier of language to restrict them from accessing it. This was seen in 2020, with Parasite’s sweeping number of awards. The themes within the film, link to those in Squid Game, with its clever commentary on capitalism through the parallels of two families and their interactions. The repetition of this theme, which is popular in Korean media, highlights the severity of the poverty issue in South Korea. Now the Western world is exposed to this, the only question left to ask is, how will the horrific consequences of capitalism be repaired?



‘In Love With The World’:


Anicka Yi In the Turbine Hall Amelia Casey-Rerhaye, BA Arabic At long last the annual Hyundai Commission has returned to the Tate Modern’s beloved Turbine Hall, after an empty two years. Anicka Yi’s ‘In Love With The World’ - open to the public from the 12 October 2021 until the 16 January 2022 - does not disappoint. Yi’s biggest and most ambitious project to date features bulbous jellyfish-like machines meandering through the expansive space, seemingly with a mind of their own. The floating objects, coined ‘aerobes,’ come in two shapes: ‘Xenojellies’ have a clear rounded body with coloured tops and agile tentacles, and ‘planulae,’ rounded bubble-like forms with tiny yellow hairs covering their surface, much like a cow’s hide. The mind-boggling aerobes inhabit the echoing hall all-day and can be best observed from the first floor bridge. The immediate sensation as one walks along the ground floor of the hall looking up at the bobbing bodies above, is that of being at the bottom of an ocean or the inside of an immense aquarium. The design of the aerobes was based on ocean life forms and mushrooms, and are the result of trying to merge biology and machinery to break down the barriers between plants, life, and technology. As I lost myself in the gentle movements of the individual tentacles, it was evident that the project had been executed exquisitely. Watching the conscious-like behaviour of the aerobe’s movements prompts the viewer to wonder what the future of technology is. Could machines evolve to be independent from human life? What are the possibilities for artificial intelligence?

“An experience akin to stepping into a rainforest or scuba-diving around a coral reef.” Anicka Yi was born in Seoul in 1971 and now lives in New York City. She is a conceptual artist who likes to explore a range of materials that not only engage the vision, but all five senses in an attempt to push boundaries of comfort and understanding. Yi has been the subject of many solo exhibitions over the past decade. Her exhibition in 2016 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City had two pieces, one of which presented a colony of ants under plexiglass on top of a representation of a server rack. Her work is most often interdisciplinary. Through collaborating with specialists from a range of fields, Yi successfully fuses technology, art, philosophy, and anthropology resulting in thought-provoking and nuanced exhibitions. Integrated into the commission are scentscapes. Changing every week, they expose the audience to the smells that have masked the area that is now bankside over the course of the earth’s history. Yi’s use of air as a material completes the immersive experience. The air around is made tangible by the fluid rhythmic motions of the aerobes through the perfumed space. Its added presence is slightly disconcerting given the current circumstances, however it also prompted me to explore the idea of air as a ‘thing’ rather than ‘nothing’. Through the incorporation of air in the commission, the step


‘The mind-boggling aerobes inhabit the echoing hall all-day’. Anicka Yi, In Love With The World at the Tate Modern. (Credit: Joe Humphrys)

to considering ‘air politics’ is easy in a time when we are all hyper-aware of the air we share. Subjects such as pollution, the climate crisis, the pandemic, what air is and to whom it belongs are all quick to come to mind. The opening week’s scent was Cholera, a darkly ironic link to London’s history that we all noted in the press conference. The commission as a whole is mesmerising. Whether on your way to an exhibition or looking for a peaceful place to take a break from the city, I urge everyone to take a minute to watch the ethereal aerobes, as they explore the space into

which they have been released. Yi and her team have created something truly spectacular, using four dimensions to expose the audience to an experience akin to stepping into a rainforest or scuba-diving around a coral reef. As I stood, lost in the wonders of the artificial ecosystem in front of me, and listened to the sounds of machines fill the hall once again - albeit probably a little softer than those produced by the turbine that once filled the space - it was impossible to ignore the significance and beauty of the art in front of me.



Sports & Societies Sport & Societies Editor: Mahek Arora

Welcome to the ‘Easiest Part of Your Week’

Team Training (Credit: SOAS Netball)

Artemis Sianni-Wedderburn, BA Politics and Arabic Sport; nothing brings more people together in laughter, tears or frustration. SOAS Netball is no different. A staple at SOAS, it has become an institution within the sports community. The ability to interact with people from a variety of backgrounds as well as enjoy an emotional and physical release built around teamwork makes netball the sport to be a part of. In this issue, former Social Secretary Alice Ede joins me on a Jordanian rooftop for a mint lemonade and a discussion about the easiest part of her week. Played by two opposing teams, netball has 14 players on the court at any time. SOAS Netball usually takes 10 members to their games so that they may substitute players. After the whistle blows, players use various passes to try and get as many goals as possible with the hopes of winning. Skill, agility, teamwork and a will for fun are mandatory ingredients for a team win. These are versatile qualities, found in people from various age groups, nationalities, orientations and levels of play. Diversity is what makes SOAS Netball unique and successful. Alice originally got into the sport in primary school. If the team won, they would get ice-cream. While this is as legitimate a reason to play as any, players also learn how to be competitive in a healthy way that sets them up for success later in life. Additionally, it is hard to meet new people in such a massive city as London. The shared appreciation of pushing the limits both physically and emotionally creates a lasting bond that transcends traditional social barriers. Alice tells me that ‘it is like joining a family, and I’m grateful to have done it.’


She met her flatmates and her best friend through netball in her first year.

“built around catering to diverse needs and being inclusive” Joining is easy. SOAS Netball is active on both Instagram (@soasnetball) and Facebook (SOAS Netball), and regularly posts updates about training sessions and socials. Coaches and umpires are organised by the committee; it is the ‘easiest part of your week.’ All levels are encouraged to join as the society is inclusive and open to all. Anyone is welcome to come to their bi-weekly training sessions (Monday and Wednesday at Highbury Fields). In-person training and socials are back and (hopefully) here to stay. Socials include quiz and pub nights that members and non-members can come to. That being said, sports societies often have the reputation of having large drinking cultures. This is not the case for SOAS Netball nor for SOAS sports in general. Socials are built around catering to diverse needs and being inclusive. The appointment of a Pastoral Secretary is reflective of this. If you have any issues with the society - including committee members - you can go to them without fear of exposure. They are there to keep you safe. Last year was tough as government and university guidelines mandated that everyone stay 2 metres apart - this is difficult to do in a sports environment. Additionally, positive cases meant cancelled training sessions. This took away what

Alice considers to be one of the best parts of games - the trip there and back. When the team wins the ride back is euphoric, having burned energy, worked hard and played as a collective. SOAS Netball is also a part of the university varsity league and regularly plays against other London and UK universities, winning the varsity competition in 2019/20. SOAS Netball hosts two games every Monday and one every Wednesday. Whether you are there as a player, a spectator or simply someone who is curious about what SOAS Netball is about, you can rest assured that it is going to be an afternoon to remember.

Game on! (Credit: SOAS Netball)


& Societies 7Sports DECEMBER 2020

Sports & Societies 2 NOVEMBER 2021

Join your student-run newspaper! Interested in journalism, writing, design, or photography? Want to gain valuable experience to pursue a career in the media or publishing? Want to express your opinions? Email to find out about your student-run newspaper! The SOAS Spirit is your independent student-run newspaper; an on campus presence since 1936. We publish monthly throughout the term. We have opportunities to join our team as a writer, photographer, and much more

: @soasspirit WWW.SOASSPIRIT.CO.UK


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