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THE UNDERGRADUATE, WINTER 2016, Vol. 3, No. 1. Published by THE UNDERGRADUATE ACADEMIC JOURNAL. Printed and bound in the UNITED KINGDOM by SHORT RUN PRESS LTD, Exeter, Devon. ISSN 2054-8478

8 Ancient History & Classics 13 Business & Economics 18 English & Film 22 International Relations 27 Law 32 Middle Eastern Studies 36 Modern Languages 41 Social Sciences 47 Theology & Religion 52 Competition Winner 53 Focus Feature: Is It Our Duty to Help Refugees?

Allow us to introduce ourselves! PRESIDENT


















DIRECTOR OF The Undergraduate Live

ASSISTANT OF The Undergraduate Live


























ere presented is, as always, an incredible variety of essays free for your perusal, whether you are searching for a particular essay you’ve heard about, looking for inspiration for a blog post, or simply procrastinating. If your interest is piqued by the role of religion in contemporary British life, or comic book films, or even our winning essay explaining why vision is the tool with which one can change the world, we’ve got something for you.

t has been a little over nine months since I wrote my first foreword for The Undergraduate as its Editor-in-Chief, although it feels like a lot less. But in those nine months the journal has done nothing but grow from strength to strength. With the May issue our readership almost doubled and this only grew more with the publication of our second Fresher’s Guide in September. We were honoured to have Yaron Brook return to speak for us and we welcomed acclaimed astrophysicist Dr Joseph Roche through The Undergraduate Live!. I would like to take this opportunity to thank every member of our committee who has given their time and energy on top of their studies and made all of this possible.

Rosemary and I were interviewed last term for the Education Strategy project at the University of Exeter. They were particularly impressed with how the journal meets the aims of research-inspired and enquiryled learning, multi-disciplinary learning for global challenges, and employment experiences and capabilities. The Undergraduate is an asset not only to our readers, but to all those studying at Exeter, and to the university as a whole. Life does not run according to just one subject; the world of work is not just in theology, or just in classics, but is interdisciplinary, relying on information from allover. The range of essays presented here help readers, like you, to discover a wealth of information from an array of backgrounds.

This issue is the most exciting yet and it has been an honour to bring it together. The essay competition was mentioned to me in its initial form in three years ago when I first became a part of The Undergraduate and to bring it to life has been wonderful. The question of what is the most powerful tool to change the world is a vital question for our generation in these times of turmoil. To see the enthusiasm and creativity with which the students engaged with the question was incredible and I enjoyed reading every one. I fully recommend that you enjoy the winner published here, and also the other shortlisted entries, which will be presented in March.

Having seen the journal grow from an idea discussed on social media to a fully-fledged academic publication, I am so grateful for the all the support we’ve received over the years. Sadly, the Annual Fund cannot keep us going forever; our funding will run out at the end of this academic year. The Undergraduate will always be free, because we know as well as any how hard-up students are. Printing, on the other hand, is not free, so we’re turning to a very modern solution: crowdfunding. If you, or anyone you know, can afford to donate even just one pound to this worthy cause, the resulting sharing of knowledge will be worth many times the monetary contribution. Please see our website for further details.

That isn’t the only exciting thing to happen to the journal this term. We have added a brand new section to our ranks, and I would like to thank Jess Wiemer for helping to make that happen. Despite only being added two weeks before the deadline, Social Sciences had one of the highest number of submissions and I hope that that continues into the future. The Undergraduate has done wonderful things over the last nine months, supported by a fantastic team. I have every hope for the future and what will happen next, including the recruitment of the 2016/17 committee. I would like to thank you for picking up the journal and taking the time to read the insightful essays held within. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have and that you will continue to support the journal by reading, coming to events and possibly even consider donating so that The Undergraduate can keep publishing your brilliant work.

I truly believe that the research undertaken by students as part of their undergraduate degree is worthy of displaying to the world. The essays in your hands, or on your screen, are the culmination of years spent studying (not to mention the sacrificed hours in the pub). I hope that they will continue to inspire others in their quest for knowledge. I hope you’re as proud as we are of this latest edition.










ANCIENT HISTORY AND CLASSICS This very topical piece examines the nationalist connotations of archaeology. Its use of familiar imagery, from the façade of the Guildhall shopping centre to the logo of Starbucks Coffee, confirms the centrality of this issue in our everyday lives. The controversial question of whether a nation should ‘own’ its archaeological heritage is constantly debated by classicists and ancient historians, making this an engaging read. SUBJECT EDITOR Jack West-Sherring

Archaeology as a Tool for Marketing and Nationalism within Modern Britain literature and history of British nationalism and identity which can be usefully correlated with archaeology. Yet, we should consider archaeology as a single means to promote nationalism in Britain, particularly through organisations, museums and sites. British organisations can to some extent prove that archaeology is being used as a tool for nationalism. As emphasised by Champion (1996: 129), in Britain today there is no integrated state archaeological service but separate administrative structures in each of the countries (English Heritage, Historic Scotland, Cadw and Heritage Ireland). Although these organisations are country specific, they all contribute to their own national identity and thus contribute to the wider British national identity. These organisations in particular promote nationalism through a variety of ways, including the sites they protect, the events they run and how they promote their own organisation. For example, the English Heritage Membership homepage promotes British archaeology and history, which is enticingly paired with the membership prices, persuading potential customers to become members. However, other British organisations include those abroad, such as those in partnership with the British Academy (2015: 1). These institutions are engaged in research and fieldwork across a range of disciplines but receive funding from Britain to fund non-British archaeology, for example, the British School at Athens (BSA) is renowned for excavating Knossos. Interestingly, Gill (2011: 8-9) states that one of the reasons for the creation of the BSA may have been the desire to acquire major monuments for display in the British Museum, thus supporting the fact that archaeology is used as a tool for nationalism to some extent, but not a large extent. Nevertheless, the organisations within modern Britain contribute to archaeology being used as a tool for nationalism.

written by Jack Pettitt


rchaeology and the historic past are powerful symbolic tools to promote nationalism within Britain. Amid current scholarship, nationalism has proved to be an important variable in the development of various traditions of archaeological research (Trigger 1984: 356-7), with many works outlining the history behind the national approach to archaeology (e.g. Champion 1996; Dennell 1996). Primarily, for the purpose of this essay it is necessary to identify the term ‘nationalism’, that is, a collective distinctiveness of a body of people united by culture, history, language and often politics, populating a particular territory (Banks 1996: 2-3). One should also highlight that England, Scotland and Wales all have their “own distinctive national identity,” with their archaeology and history offering very different possibilities to construct a national identity (Champion 1996: 119). Yet, for the purpose of this essay, although the individual identities are uniquely complex, they will be treated as a single entity when discussing nationalism, unless otherwise stated. Within Britain, there is an important relationship between the past and present; one is inclined to agree with Kohl and Fawcett (1995: 3), who argue that there is an almost unavoidable or natural relationship between nationalism and archaeology. This essay will firstly explore how archaeology is being used as a tool for nationalism through prominent organisations, museums and sites, before discussing how the past is being used as a marketing tool, consulting particular examples of current commercial companies. Firstly, Britain, like many other countries, associates itself with myths which reference their historic traditions contributing to the national identity; MacDougall (1982: 7-12) provides a worthy summary of the British origin myth including Brutus and King Arthur. Dennell (1996: 22-35) also provides an account which focuses on the

Amongst scholarship, the role of museums in a national framework is problematic (e.g. Champion 8

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1996; Knell 2011). Museums can be seen as a global point of reference; namely, many house artefacts from all over the world, so do not directly promote British nationalism.

tend to be connected to particular sites or events, we must remember the context of the museum, supplementing the site or event. An example is the Bronze Age site of Flag Fen, which has a museum housing all the relevant artefacts. Of course, this is not the case for every museum in Britain, with other major museums showing a global plethora of artefacts.

However, the British Museum for example, although it looks non-British in its image (which will be discussed later), it fundamentally promotes many important artefacts which have been discovered by British archaeologists or archaeologists working under the British Empire. Wilson states that the British Museum collects “beyond the confines of ‘the national heritage,’” and does not have just British antiquities, but collects for the whole world, forming a “heritage which is not chauvinistic” (Wilson 1989: 28). However, it is important to realise that during the publication time, Wilson was the Director of the British Museum (1977-1992). In light of this view, it can be inferred that Wilson is likely to follow an agenda and is thus biased in his opinion of the British Museum. Furthermore, Champion agrees with Wilson, interestingly stating that the British Museum is not a national museum of Britain or England, and “indeed no such archaeological museum has existed” (Champion 1996: 131). Although somewhat correct when realising that the British Museum houses artefacts from all over the world showing a global interconnectedness, perhaps we should consider that many of the artefacts on display in the museum, especially the more prominent ones, were collected by British archaeologists. In this sense, it can be concluded that the British Museum alone promotes the influence of Britain around the world. For example, the Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, Discobolus and Standard of Ur were all a result of British intervention, either by force or purchase, thus showing the influence of Britain through the artefacts on display. Additionally, although local museums

Archaeological sites can also be used as a tool for nationalism within Britain. A survey concluded that Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall were amongst the top 15 landmarks in Britain alongside Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament (Anonymous A 2012: 1), contributing to the British national identity. More recent archaeological sites show, however, that archaeology itself is being used as a direct tool for nationalism. For example, the discovery of Richard III prompted a site investigation, proving to be a prominent national representation. Namely, the site has been preserved in situ, and has been recently converted into a museum with the site as its main attraction. The media coverage of the topic followed the developing story from broadsheets to televised news channels, relating to the importance of our current monarchy. In light of this, one agrees with Fowler (1992: 173), who believes that the media is constantly using the past to appeal to its audience. Interestingly, the media used the discovery of Richard III to promote the idea of the monarchy; they failed however to highlight the events which led to his death, including the deposition of his body. With this, they removed the context of both the history and archaeology surrounding the discovery which is one of the biggest issues with archaeological propaganda. With many articles and documentaries published about the site itself, it can be argued that the public felt part of the archaeological discovery,

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is erroneous, popularised by the adoption of the Caduceus by the US Army Medical Corps in 1902 (Bernice 1929: 207; Garrison 1919: 15). Both professional and commercial organisations that are connected to medicine use either symbol. A particular survey completed by Friedlander (1992: 145-153) found that 62% of professional organisations used the rod of Asclepius, whereas 76% of commercial organisations used the Caduceus symbol. One would be inclined to agree with Friedlander, stating that the difference exists because professional organisations are more likely to understand the difference, while commercial organisations are more likely to be concerned with the visual impact a symbol will have in selling their products (Friedlander 1992: 153). Other images of antiquity are used to create symbolic familiarity with a global target market, but are more commercially driven to create a strong brand and generate profit. In particular, certain British companies use the past as a marketing tool even if they do not have any relevance to archaeology, clearly showing the power of its visual imagery. An example of this is Hastings Direct, which utilises historic iconography from the Battle of Hastings. Moreover, the historic event in 1066 is used to directly promote nationalism; a newspaper article states that the anniversary plans in 2016 are already underway (Anonymous B 2013: 1). However, interestingly there are no companies or organisations in Britain which use the iconic site Stonehenge as a marketing tool, yet, there is an American company called “Stonehenge Telecom” which uses both the name and the site. English Heritage (2010: 1) states that a “commercial photographer… (using) the monument for financial gain… (must) pay a fee and abide by certain conditions” relating to the legislation surrounding the site, perhaps explaining why no companies in Britain use it.

forming part of our national identity, supporting the fact that national identity is constantly being constructed in the present (Hall 1999: 43). This can be corroborated with the discovery of the Mary Rose, the flagship of Queen Elizabeth I’s navy that fought against the Spanish Armada, which also has a museum dedicated solely to the site itself. Through these examples alone, it can be argued that archaeological sites can be used to promote British nationalism to some extent. Blockley (1999: 18) and Horne (1984: 166) state that archaeological reconstructions give people a dramatised sense of being part of the state with a share in its future; this is certainly the case with the latter examples. Broadly speaking then, one is inclined to hypothesise that archaeological organisations and sites are unquestionably being used as a tool for nationalism. Museums however create a different image, with some indirectly promoting nationalism but most displaying artefacts from all over the world.

Different aspects of antiquity are embedded in both local and national identity, often becoming part of everyday life. Hamilakis highlights that in particular, antiquity dominates Greek life, evident in many facets of material culture, relating to the ideological constructions of the past (Hamilakis and Yalouri 1996: 118-119). Yet, in Britain there are also many examples of material culture which relate to the past, not necessarily from British descent. For example, the British Museum has a Greek temple style portico and the Exeter Guildhall Shopping Centre utilises Greek temple style architecture. This is an example of

The past is also being used as a marketing tool: in general, images of antiquity are used to create symbolic familiarity globally. For example, the universal symbols of medical care are the Rod of Asclepius and the Caduceus of Hermes. The latter is often used instead of the former; this usage 10

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the past being used as a marketing tool, using iconic historical monuments as a means for commercial business, creating neo-classical grandeur and being aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, the proposed plans to improve the shopping centre combines classical Greek and modern architecture with a pseudo-mosaic floor, further increasing the classical resemblance. It is almost acceptable for the British Museum to use such symbolic materials because of its academic character, key for the understanding the material inside (Wingfield 2011: 125), yet the Exeter Guildhall Shopping Centre uses the style for commercial gain and eloquence. Another example is from the Pyramids Leisure Centre in Exeter, using the three pyramids of Giza as its logo, again using a wellknown icon of archaeology to create a strong brand.

some extent. It has shown how the past is being used a marketing tool, more often than not referencing global, well-known sites rather than solely British sites and symbols for commercial gain.


Anonymous A 14th March 2012: ‘YouGov Survey Results: Best Landmarks in Britain’, YouGov. ( h t t p : / / c d n . y o u g o v. c o m / c u m u l u s _ u p l o a d s / document/4liunlovi9/Results%20120314%20 British%20landmarks.pdf) Anonymous B 17th October 2013: ‘1066 Anniversary Plans Underway’, Rye and Battle Observer. (http://

In conclusion, archaeology is being used as a tool for nationalism within modern Britain, but only to some extent. Organisations and sites within Britain tend to be focused on and promoted more than others. In my opinion, this is due to the economic gain from tourism, benefiting the country directly and simultaneously contributing to its national identity. Champion (1996: 120) importantly states that archaeology is being used for political ends, corroborating with Blockley (1999: 18) who states that archaeological sites have economic value as venues for cultural tourism. Does not every country promote their own archaeology and history through important sites: Greece, Italy and Egypt being prime examples? Yet museums in Britain are different: with the exception of the British Museum, many are non-nationalistic in nature, making foreign artefacts available to the native community. Certain countries use archaeology as national emblems and symbols, with cultural inheritance being rooted in the past (Renfrew and Bahn 1991: 510). For example, the state of Zimbabwe comes from the eponymous archaeological site and the newly independent Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia uses the ancient ‘Star of Vergina’ as its national symbol. Although Britain does not use such tools in its national emblems or symbols, archaeology is placing British identity on a pedestal for both historical appreciation and economic gain, ultimately promoting nationalism. However, using the past as a marketing tool in Britain tends to reference non-British material culture facets which are often global iconic images to create a stronger brand and identity for commercial gain, appealing to a larger audience. Overall, this essay has consulted organisations, museums and sites concluding that archaeology is being used as a tool for nationalism to

Anonymous C 28th August 2014: ‘Revealed: Guildhall Shopping Centre Plans Will Create New Dining Quarter for Exeter’, Exeter Express and Echo. ( Artstor 2015: Bayeux Tapestry. (http://library.artstor. org/library/iv2.html?parent=true) Banks, I. 1996: ‘Archaeology, Nationalism and Ethnicity’, in J. Atkinson, I. Banks and J. O’Sullivan (eds.) 1996: Nationalism and Archaeology, Glasgow: Cruithne Press, 1-11. Berger, A. 2013: Dictionary of Advertising and Marketing Concepts, California: Left Coast Press Bernice, E. 1929: ‘The Use of Mercury’s Caduceus as a Medical Emblem’, The Classical Journal 25.1, 205-208 Blockley, M. 1999: ‘Archaeological Reconstructions and the Community in the UK’, in P. G. Stone and P. G. Planel (eds.) 1999: The Constructed Past: Experimental Archaeology, Education and the Public, London: Routledge, 15-34 British Academy 2015: Academy-Sponsored Institutes. ( cfm) British Museum 2015a: Discobolus. (http://www. objects/gr/d/discus-thrower_discobolus.aspx) 11

British Museum 2015b: Standard of Ur. (http://www. objects/me/t/the_standard_of_ur.aspx)

Hastings Direct 2015: Multimedia Centre. (http:// html

Centurion Europe 2015: About Us. (http://www.

Horne, D. 1984: The Great Museum: The Representation of History, London: Pluto Press Limited


Champion, T. 1996: ‘Three Nations or One? Britain and the National Use of the Past’, in M. Díaz-Andreu and T. Champion (eds.) 1996: Nationalism and Archaeology in Europe, London: UCL Press, 119145

Knell, S. 2011: ‘National Museums and the National Imagination’, in S. Knell, P. Aronsson, A. B. Amundsen, A. J. Barnes, S. Burch, J. Carter, V. Gosselin, S. A. Hughes and A. Kirwan (eds.) 2011: National Museums: New Studies From Around the World, London: Routledge, 3-28


Dennell, R. 1996: ‘Nationalism and Identity in Britain and Europe’, in J. Atkinson, I. Banks and J. O’Sullivan (eds.) 1996: Nationalism and Archaeology, Glasgow: Cruithne Press, 22-34



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Kohl, P. and Fawcett, C. 1995: ‘Archaeology in the Service of the State: Theoretical Considerations’, in P. Kohl and C. Fawcett (eds.) 1995: Nationalism, Politics and the Practice of Archaeology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3-18

English Heritage 2015: Join English Heritage. (http://

MacDougall, H. A. 1982: Racial Myth in English History: Trojans, Teutons and Anglo-Saxons, London: University Press of New England

English Heritage 2010: Photography and Stonehenge. ( photography-and-stonehenge/)

Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. 1991: Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practices, London: Thames and Hudson

Fifth Colour Magazine 2013: Visual Shorthand. (

Stonehenge Telecom 2015: Corporate Profile. (http://

Fowler, P. 1992: The Past in Contemporary Society: Then, Now, London: Routledge

Trigger, B. 1984: ‘Alternative Archaeologies: Nationalist, Colonialist, Imperialist’, Man 19.3, 355370

Friedlander, W. J. 1992: The Golden Wand of Medicine: A History of the Caduceus Symbol in Medicine, New York: Greenwood Press

Wilson, D. M. 1989: The British Museum: Purpose and Politics, London: British Museum Publications

Garrison, F. H. 1919: ‘The Use of the Caduceus in the Insignia of the Army Medical Officer’, Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 9, 13-16

Wingfield, C. 2011: ‘Placing Britain in the British Museum: Encompassing the Other’, in S. Knell, P. Aronsson, A. B. Amundsen, A. J. Barnes, S. Burch, J. Carter, V. Gosselin, S. A. Hughes and A. Kirwan (eds.) 2011: National Museums: New Studies From Around the World, London: Routledge, 123-137

Gill, D. 2011: Sifting the Soil of Greece: The Early Years of the British School at Athens (1886-1919), London: Short Run Press Hall, S. 1999: ‘Culture, Community and Nation’, in D. Boswell and J. Evans (eds.) 1999: Representing the Nation: A Reader: Histories, Heritage and Museums, London: Routledge, 33-44



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Hamilakis, Y. and Yalouri, E. 1996: ‘Antiquities as Symbolic Capital in Modern Greek Society’, Antiquity 70, 117-129


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BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS This essay was chosen because it reflects The Undergraduate’s ethos by being interdisciplinary and accessible. It discusses the legal concept of punitive damages, and applies it to a real-life business scenario: the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill. The author contrasts the perspectives of the legal school and the economic school, and discusses a variety of concepts, ranging from the reliability of juries, to the importance of risk. The discussion is largely focused on the impact of punitive damages on the welfare of society, and it calls for a rational, non-politicised approach to the question. The essay combines two very complex disciplines, yet it can be enjoyed not only by lawyers and economists, but anyone interested in questions that matter for the world. SUBJECT EDITOR Agata Siuchninska

Under what circumstances is it desirable for the court to impose Punitive Damages? Do you think it would be correct to impose Punitive Damages on BP for the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill? of the legal school, which is shared by the US Supreme Court.5 They see punitive damages as both a deterrent and a means of punishment..6 The latter, often supported by the opinions of the wider population, awards punitive damages against a defendant who has committed “morally egregious and reckless behaviour”.7 On a simplistic level, the reasoning behind this may appear to make intuitive sense, as liability for damages of any kind increases the incentive to take precautions and reduces the incentive to perform prohibited actions. By increasing the expected liability for actions of a reprehensible nature, punitive damages would enhance the incentive to take precautions, and reduce the probability of harm.

written by Hamish Duncan


uring the development of our modern legal system, there can be few areas of the law that have been so frequently or vocally disagreed upon as punitive damages, a principle of tort law that can trace its origins as far back as Hammurabi’s Code, circa 2000B.C.1 Punitive damages are simple and easy to understand in theory, they are the proportion of an award greater than is required to fully compensate for harm caused by a defendant.2 In reality, there exists a significant chasm between the rhetoric of legal scholars and their economic counterparts,3 who disagree in both philosophy and practice over the motivations for and component factors of such awards.4 This essay shall argue largely in favour of the economic school, before concluding that, save for minor exceptions, the most desirable use of punitive damages is to counterbalance a chance that the probability of liability is less than absolute. This shall then be applied to the appropriateness of punitive damages in the litigation against BP after the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill.

Whilst it may seem logical that an action will occur less frequently following an increase in expected cost, such thinking is easily flawed. It relies on the assumption that deterrence and precaution are monotonic, implying that additional precautions are always socially beneficial and ignores the concept of equilibria - a stalwart part of economic theory. Punitive damages may become sufficiently high that they cause over-deterrence where “wasteful precautions”8 are taken. This may result in many economic activities becoming no longer viable, causing a shutdown of business activities that are socially beneficial but carry an increased degree of

It is most useful to first introduce the argument 1 Calandrillo, S. P. (2010): “Penalizing Punitive Damages: Why the Supreme Court Needs a Lesson in Law and Economics”, The George Washington Law Review: Vol. 78, No. 4, p. 780.


Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1998): “Punitive Damages: An Economics Analysis”, The Harvard Law Review: Vol. 78, No. 4, p. 874.


Visscher, L. T. (2009): “Economic Analysis of Punitive Damages”, a special report from “Punitive Damages: Common Law and Civil Law Perspectives”, ‘Tort and Insurance Law’, Institute for European Tort Law of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vol. 25, pp. 219-224.

5 6

Calandrillo, S. P. (2010): See supra 5, p. 785.

7 8

Calandrillo, S. P. (2010): See supra 5, p. 776.

Cooter, R. D. (1997): “Punitive Damages, Social Norms and Economic Analysis”, Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 60, No. 3, pp. 74-83.


Hylton, K. N. (2008): “A Theory of Wealth and Punitive Damages”, Boston University School of Law Working Paper No. 08-09, pp. 1-15. Available at ( id=1103151) - Accessed 15/11/15.


Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1998): See supra 2, p. 873.

risk. Consider the example of open heart surgery, an undoubtedly risky affair. If the heart surgeon is liable to the dependants of the patient for extracompensatory damages following error that prompts the patient to pass away, he will internalise the increase in the potential cost of performing the operation and may decide to quit the profession, in detriment to social welfare. Blockbuster9 awards may also lead to a severe price increase that reduces the consumer surplus10 or a sharp drop in share value that damages the portfolios of shareholders,11 without necessarily even punishing the culpable individuals hidden by the corporate veil.12

loss/injurer gain18. A ‘dichotomy’19 of motivations exists between deterrence and punishment, and whilst the latter can be achieved through criminal proceedings, optimal deterrence can only occur through the internalisation of damage. Since the two objectives are mutually exclusive, it is logical to focus on using punitive damages as a deterrent, not punishment. Deterrence, the second motivation of judicial theory, also forms the foundation of the economic argument. A great deal of the economic theory is built upon the work of Polinsky & Shavell, who theorise that to achieve optimal deterrence “injurers should be made to pay for the harm their conduct generates, not less, not more”.20 Punitive damages are thus unnecessary unless injurers may escape liability, whereby expected liability would not equate to harm. This problem can be counteracted by multiplying the level of harm by the reciprocal of the probability of the injurer being found liable21 - a method which can be extrapolated into the following equation:

One can also argue that the principle of using Punitive Damages as punishment is naturally arbitrary, as it relies on jurors to monetise societal morals with little guidance.13 The degree of ‘reprehensibility’ perceived by the jurors is ultimately subjective and open to bias from their politics and sensitivities. As there is little empirical calculation behind the punishment motive, a tendency exists for low-frequency, highseverity awards.14 The threat of these ‘catastrophic’ awards introduces risk and variance into the tortsystem which acts to the detriment of the business environment and may jeopardise a defendant with financial distress.15 Furthermore, if we assume a competitive market, a corporate defendant has an existing incentive to perform.16 Following a boycott of their own ethically-considerate customers, there may be no need to ‘punish’ them further, as primary motivation of a corporation is to make profits, not to harm others.17 In the absence of formulaic reasoning, judicial over-deterrence of activity that forms part of social welfare can verge on despotism, especially if courts take into consideration the wealth of a defendant when it is uncorrelated with the observable victim

Key: Damages: Punitive (P), Total (T), Compensatory (C); Level of Harm (H), Prob. of Liability (Ω):

Figure 1: Author’s mathematical formula derived from the worded theory in Polinsky & Shavell (1998) 21

Full internalisation of an externality of an action creates socially correct incentives to take precautions and to observe correct activity levels.22 levels. Therefore, it can be argued that, as punitive damages may deter an action that could go unnoticed, they are only desirable when Ω < 1. Assume that, to save £100k in disposal fees, a firm dumps hazardouswaste illegally in the middle of the wilderness with a 1/500 chance of being caught, causing damage to land worth £1m. With compensatory damages, the expected liability of illegal disposal (£1m/500 = £2k) is far below the cost of correct disposal (£100k), so the rational injurer would not perform correctly here. Conversely, if the courts used this formula to award an additional £499m in punitive damages, expected


Del Rossi, A. F. & Viscusi, W. K. (2009): “The Changing Landscape of Blockbuster Punitive Damages Awards”, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 15571, pp. 1-62. Available at (http://www. - Accessed 16/11/15.

10 11

Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1998): See supra 2, at p. 873.

12 13

Cooter, R. D. (1997): See supra 6, p. 91.

14 15 16 17

Rhee, R. J. (2012): See supra 13, p. 35.

Karpoff, J. M. & Lott, J. R., Jr. (1998): “Punitive Damages: Their Determinants, Effects on Firm Value, and the Impact of Supreme Court and Congressional Attempts to Limit Awards”, John M. Olin Program (Law and Economics) Working Paper No. 58, pp. 16-19. Available at (http:// - Accessed 16/11/15. Rhee, R. J. (2012): “A Financial Economic Theory of Punitive Damages”, Michigan Law Review, Vol. 111, Issue 1, p. 49. Rhee, R. J. (2012): See supra 13, pp. 35-63. Karpoff, J. M. & Lott, J. R., Jr. (1998): See supra 11, pp. 4-6. Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1998): See supra 2, p. 905.


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Hylton, K. N. (2008): See supra 4, pp. 1-4. Calandrillo, S. P. (2010): See supra 5, p. 795. Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1998): See supra 2, p. 873. Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1998): See supra 2, pp. 874-875. Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1998): See supra 2, pp. 878-887.

23 24 25 26

liability would be increased to £1m, causing the injurer to internalise their actions and perform. In contradiction of current jurisprudence, it is always desirable for the court to impose punitive damages in such circumstances, regardless of the degree of reprehensibility. Moving beyond this, there have been several other situations identified where the use of punitive damages is desirable. Consider the situation where compensatory damages are less than the ‘true value’ of the victim’s loss.23 Due to the nature of compensatory damages, they only compensate financial losses and do not take into account factors such as harm to indirect victims, increased risk exposure or environmental/psychological damages that cannot be quantified.24 The expected liability may then be less than the actual damage caused, creating incorrect incentives for the injurer to perform. As such, it is possible to award punitive damages in order to ‘fill the gap’23. However, this does not guarantee efficiency, as the award may be arbitrary, and the same measurement biases that led to compensatory damages being undervalued could be introduced into the punitive component.

damage cases, a risk arbitrage advantage exists over an individual victim who is likely to be more risk averse. The defendant can capitalise on this by settling out of court at a discount.27 Under catastrophic risk, where the award severity could cause financial distress, the victim has the risk arbitrage upper hand and the injurer will pay a premium to relieve risk. Whilst the former may lead to liability leakage and under-deterrence, catastrophic risk may cause excess liability and over-deterrence.28 Arguably, a calculated sum of punitive damages may be desirable in order to mitigate both risk arbitrage opportunities. Purely compensatory damages may not be sufficient to remove the injurer’s advantage, whilst unconstrained damages may unfairly turn the tables. Such a policy could introduce the thematic problems of arbitrary nominal valuations and uncertainty, but may be nevertheless desirable if a system is employed that sets the award sum at the optimum level (shown below as the boundary between financial distress and non-distress).

Another area where punitive damages can be of use is in the case of a rationally apathetic victim.25 In this case, a compensatory award may be an insufficient incentive relative to the cost of bringing a suit against the injurer. This would allow the injurer to continue undeterred, even if there were a myriad of victims. Punitive damages could be awarded to increase the expected payoff to the victim, relative to the expense of taking the defendant to court, thereby creating an incentive for the injurer to deter undesirable activities or increase precautions. Jurors do have to be careful not to create a paradox where too many victims come forward, as the combined punitive damage bill could be too high, which would increase the risk of over-deterrence or financial distress. Despite this, carefully monitored punitive damages can help stem the liability leakage caused by insufficient litigation incentives.

Figure 2: Author’s Risk Arbitrage diagram, simplified from similar in Rhee (2012) 26

It is possible to use this analysis when assessing the suitability of punitive damages against BP in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps the first factor to consider is whether or not BP is truly liable for spill, although this would have more relevance for the punishment motive. The appropriateness of punitive damages would clearly be altered if liability lay with the rig’s owners (Transocean Ltd.) 29 or the company who

The final and perhaps most sophisticated example uses precise-value punitive damages as a tool to balance the mutual risk arbitrage opportunities that exist in cases of ordinary and catastrophic risk exposure.26 In an ordinary risk situation with the assumption that the defendant is a corporation, as per most punitive 23 24 25 26

27 28 29

Visscher, L. T. (2009): See supra 3, pp. 225-228. Cooter, R. D. (1997): See supra 6, pp. 80-81.

Rhee, R. J. (2012): See supra 13, p. 61. Rhee, R. J. (2012): See supra 13, p. 73

Unspecified Author, BBC News (2010): “Timeline, BP oil spill”, available at ( Accessed 23/11/15.

Visscher, L. T. (2009): See supra 3, pp. 223-224. Rhee, R. J. (2012): See supra 13, pp. 73-80.


cemented the well (Halliburton Co.) rather than BP. Given that BP have admitted responsibility for certain aspects of the disaster,30 we shall assume that BP are liable for the accident.

for such payments rather than to pursue them for punitive damages. This factor, combined with the exceptionally low chance of liability leakage and the lack of any precise blame imply that it would not be appropriate to award punitive damages against BP, provided that sufficient compensatory damages are paid, environmental consequences are cleaned up and culpable individuals who have broken the law face criminal proceedings.

The next consideration is the likelihood of BP escaping liability for the spill. In the case of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, it was argued by Polinsky/ Shavell that there was zero chance of such a catastrophe going unnoticed31. Implementation of their methodology would imply that punitive damages were not appropriate, and that Exxon should only be liable for direct harm. Again, much of the argument for awarding punitive damages was as a punishment for Exxon’s decision to allow a chronic alcoholic to captain a super-tanker and therefore had no economic grounding. Interestingly, both academics were paid consultants in the employment of Exxon at the time of the research,32 therefore whilst this theory is logical and intuitive, it is likely to be subject of a bias that over-emphasises the unsuitability of punitive damages. Various Supreme Court rulings eventually reduced the $5bn award to a mere $507.5m,33 perhaps as a result of such research. Regardless, this precedent suggests that similar logic should be applied to the likelihood of BP escaping liability, making punitive measures unnecessary.

In consideration of the legal analysis in the first half of this essay, it can be said that the only legitimate motivation for awarding punitive damages is deterrence of an action with non-certain liability. As such, from the perspective of a benevolent social planner, who intends to maximise social welfare, there is no behaviour reprehensible enough to merit the punitive punishment favoured by legal scholars and US Supreme Court jurisprudence. Deterrence may be the single legitimate motivation for punitive damages, but several situations beyond an uncertain chance of liability may justify their use. Certain scenarios may arise where liability leakage occurs and the injurer does not fully internalise the cost of their actions, such as where non-financial damage is caused or there is an insufficient incentive for a rational victim to sue. Additionally, punitive damages may be used to mitigate the risk arbitrage that corporate defendants have through bargaining power in settlement. Fundamentally however, any of these scenarios must only aim to deter socially detrimental behaviour.

Furthermore, as accidents on this scale often result in mega-torts or mass-torts, the punitive damage issue is subordinate to broader compensation.34 Priority should not be placed on a punitive settlement, as this could be the proverbial straw that ‘breaks the camel’s back’ and instigates bankruptcy before all compensatory damages are paid.35 In these cases, it may be more efficient to legislate that firms are strictly liable for any environmental clean-up and remaining harms than to pursue punitive settlements. By privately internalising the damage, this would create the correct incentives for firms to take precautions36 and would minimise the loss to social welfare. In this sense, it would be preferable to make BP liable 30 Krauss, C. & Schwartz, J. (2012): “BP Will Plead Guilty and

With regards to BP, it can be concluded that their estimated $42.4bn exposure37 is unlikely to require punitive reinforcement, and that it may seem overly retributive to pursue such damages. Whilst the spill was undoubtedly an environmental catastrophe, one has to analyse the situation through the lens of a nonpoliticised, rational agent. As such, given that there was no chance of the spill going unnoticed, it is more socially beneficial to deter reoccurrence through strict liability for compensatory damages and clean up, than through punitive damages. The latter could lead BP to pass on unnecessary and avoidable increases in oil-prices to consumers, or other corporate entities. These could, in turn, pass on the price increase to consumers, or create other unintended consequences.

Pay Over $4 Billion”, The New York Times [Online], dated 15th November 2012. Available at ( global/16iht-bp16.html?_r=0) - Accessed 18/11/15.

31 32 33 34 35

Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1998): See supra 2, p. 904. Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1998): See supra 2, p. 870. Calandrillo, S. P. (2010): See supra 5, pp. 790-792. Rhee, R. J. (2012): See supra 13, p. 79.

Sales, J. B. & Cole, K. B., Jr. (1984): “Punitive Damages: A Relic That Has Out-lived Its Origins”, Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 37, Issue 5, pp.1117-1155.


Gosden, E. (2013): “BP warns Gulf spill costs will exceed $42.4bn as compensation costs rise”, The Telegraph [Online], dated 30th July 2013. Available at ( oilandgas/10210318/BP-warns-Gulf-spill-costs-will-exceed-42.4bn-ascompensation-costs-rise.html) - Accessed 19/11/15.


Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1994): “A Note on Optimal Cleanup and Liability after Environmentally Harmful Discharges”, Research in Law and Economics, Vol. 16, pp. 17-22.



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Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1998): “Punitive Damages: An Economics Analysis”, The Harvard Law Review: Vol. 78, No. 4.

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Polinsky, A. M. & Shavell, S. (1994): “A Note on Optimal Cleanup and Liability after Environmentally Harmful Discharges”, Research in Law and Economics, Vol. 16.


Calandrillo, S. P. (2010): “Penalizing Punitive Damages: Why the Supreme Court Needs a Lesson in Law and Economics”, The George Washington Law Review: Vol. 78, No. 4.

Rhee, R. J. (2012): “A Financial Economic Theory of Punitive Damages”, Michigan Law Review, Vol. 111, Issue 1.

Cooter, R. D. (1997): “Punitive Damages, Social Norms and Economic Analysis”, Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 60, No. 3.

Sales, J. B. & Cole, K. B., Jr. (1984): “Punitive Damages: A relic that has out-lived Its origins”, Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 37, Issue 5.

Del Rossi, A. F. & Viscusi, W. K. (2009): “The Changing Landscape of Blockbuster Punitive Damages Awards”, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 15571, pp. 1-62. Available at ( Accessed 16/11/15.

Visscher, L. T. (2009): “Economic Analysis of Punitive Damages”, a special report from “Punitive Damages: Common Law and Civil Law Perspectives”, ‘Tort and Insurance Law’, Institute for European Tort Law of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vol. 25.

Gosden, E. (2013): “BP warns Gulf spill costs will exceed $42.4bn as compensation costs rise”, The Telegraph [Online], dated 30th July 2013. Available at ( newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/10210318/BPwarns-Gulf-spill-costs-will-exceed-42.4bn-ascompensation-costs-rise.html) - Accessed 19/11/15.

Unspecified Author, BBC News (2010): “Timeline, BP oil spill”, BBC News - US & Canada, dated 19th September 2010. Available at ( - Accessed 23/11/15.

Hylton, K. N. (2008): “A Theory of Wealth and Punitive Damages”, Boston University School of Law Working Paper No. 08-09, pp. 1-15. Available at ( id=1103151) - Accessed 15/11/15.

Baron, J. C. (2011): “The “Monstrous Heresy” of Punitive Damages: A comparison to the Death Penalty and suggestions for reform”, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Vol. 159.


Karpoff, J. M. & Lott, J. R., Jr. (1998): “Punitive Damages: Their Determinants, Effects on Firm Value, and the Impact of Supreme Court and Congressional Attempts to Limit Awards”, John M. Olin Program (Law and Economics) Working Paper No. 58, pp. 16-19. Available at ( economics/400/) - Accessed 16/11/15. Krauss, C. & Schwartz, J. (2012): “BP Will Plead Guilty and Pay Over $4 Billion”, The New 17

ENGLISH AND FILM Selecting just one essay to print from the number we received this term was an extraordinary challenge – we remain, as always, so impressed by the sheer range of undergraduate work within the English and Film departments, and grateful for your willingness to share it with us. Our selection, on the challenges and opportunities of adapting graphic novels for the screen, playfully and skilfully examines this transition in two very different examples. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did. SUBJECT EDITOR Lucy Maguire

Remediation and Playing with Genre in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Sin City Both adaptations deal with the maligned genre of the comic book movie and its conventions, by playing with the source text and making metatextual links between other comics, films, and so on. Sin City’s engagement is very clear, using the exact visual style of the original graphic novel, right down to the use of red and yellow to punctuate the monochrome city. However, rather than shooting the film in black and white first, Sin City was shot in full colour in front of a green screen and then used ‘digital tools to give its viewer the immediacy of the comic book image’ (Bould 112). So, as Frank Miller remediated the ‘hardboiled novel in comic book form’, the graphic novel is remediated again into a digital film, through the use of CGI to recreate Miller’s illustrations (Bould 112). Furthermore, Miller’s text is remediated through the film’s almost excessive use of voice-over, moving the single-track text boxes of the graphic novel to the multi-track voice-over of the film. All of these acts of remediation help draw attention to the graphic heritage of Sin City, while also allowing the translation of many conventions of the comic book to screen.

written by Sam Foxall


he comic book film is burdened by genre convention. While there are ‘specific systems of expectation’ for any genre, the comic book film suffers from a form of hyper-specificity, due to the typical audience that enjoys the genre (Neale 31). Distinct expectations of continuity, between both source texts and wider cinematic universe, adherences to original characters and also a certain defensiveness to real departures from the source, make adaptations of comics a cinematic minefield. However, through careful play of specific comic book conventions, along with the mix of other genres and clever use of remediation, adaptation of comics and graphic novels have been successful in using genre conventions in an attempt to elevate their films above a straight adaptation. This can be seen very clearly in both Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City. Both films are very careful in drawing upon specific ‘communicative situations’ to play with the genres associated with their films (Casetti 83). For Edgar Wright, it is his blending of comic book and video game convention, as well as a conscious desire to remediate elements of the original graphic novels. This makes Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a film that is incredibly aware of the communicative situations that it draws upon and consciously uses them to play with genre convention and expectation. As for Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, Sin City tries to blend ultraviolence with the visual style of film noir, by replicating Miller’s illustrations using digital technology. In this way, both films are very conscious in engaging the audience’s expectations of genre, to create films whose goal is to specifically show the interplay between genres, in order to create something new.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, on the other hand, actively revels in the process of remediation. While Sin City may just replace the single-track speech box with the voice over, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World combines the two elements to create a written sound effect that actually makes sound. This can be seen through the film’s expert use of typography, where the written sound effects from the original graphic novel have been aurally and physically remediated. Door bells both eject the words ‘Ding Dong’ and make the sound of a bell, while guitar amps give off visible sound waves whilst being played. Scenes like the battle with Ramona Flowers’ first evil ex include multiple cases of remediation, where the film even shifts ‘representational mode from the photographic 18

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to the graphic’ (Morton). The film consciously switches to animated scenes from the original comic, which not only gives the viewer essential plot details but reminds the viewer that this film is deeply rooted in the world of the graphic novel. The continuous and conscious reference to the original graphic novel, whilst also updating certain comic book conventions to work within a filmic context, help Scott Pilgrim vs. the World play with the idea of a ‘comic book’ film, by blending the two media so closely together. Through careful animation and clever usage of CGI, it is able to make comic elements like speech balloons or sound effects which are ‘generally not suited for film’ work, and make the film very much a ‘graphic’ one (Lefevre 11). Like in Sin City, both directors have taken influence from the original graphic novels and cleverly adapted them to film to not only pay homage to the source text, but to create something visually distinct and interesting.

metatextual link between other films in the comic book film canon. Not only does the fact they are now playing supervillains act as a point of humour, but it causes Scott Pilgrim vs. the World to be placed within the network of comic book films and creates a clear communicative situation as knowing audience members make links between these films. Sin City achieves the same effect, but this time through its casting of hardboiled action stars like Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis, as tough men who must die in order to save those they love. This careful casting forces audiences to see connections between these actors, their early work and their current role, adding an extra layer of depth to the film’s depiction of the hardboiled noir man. Not only does the influence of the noir genre affect their casting, as grizzled aging men are almost pre-requisite for noir tales, but influences from their own genre work come to impact the film and similar to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, makes audiences consider the metatextual connections between not only genres, but previous roles played by certain actors.

Both Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Sin City use specific character casting to stay ‘connected to a broader network of other discourses’, making metatextual links between other comic book films and even other genres by casting specific actors in specific roles (Casetti 89). For Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the casting of two actors who have both played superheroes, Brandon Routh, who played Superman and Chris Evans, who played Johnny Storm and was filming Captain America: The First Avenger during Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s release, as two of Ramona’s evil exes, creates an interesting

Ideas of continuity and of comic films being an anthology of a story arc, by either employing the idea of cross film continuity or providing a sort of ‘alternate ending’ to appeal to devoted fans, are played with by both films. Sin City is an ‘excruciatingly faithful movie adaptation’, being an almost shot for panel adaptation of three of Frank Miller’s graphic novels, being The Long Goodbye,


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The Yellow Bastard and The Big Fat Kill, catering to some comic fans’ desire for fidelity (Wolk 176). Furthermore, like the novels which are a ‘loosely linked series of stories or “yarns”’, Sin City is an interconnected narrative, where the three separate segments interlink in choice scenes and even stretch across films. The 2014 film Sin City: A Dame to Kill For shows character actions between scenes in the first film, and even repeats section of the first film to show a different character perspective. Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Frank Miller has tried to create his own Sin City-verse, spanning multiple films and trying to emulate the success of a filmic world with consistent continuity. Whereas Scott Pilgrim vs The World took a different approach, providing a condensed version of 5 of the graphic novels and providing an alternate ending which diverts largely from the version given in Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. However, these changes were made in conjunction with Bryan Lee O’Malley, author of the original novels, similar to how Frank Miller directed the film version of his own graphic novels, which would hopefully satiate hardcore Scott Pilgrim fans. Even though the original author sanctioned the alternate ending, stating that ‘[the adaptors’] ending is their ending’, it was forcibly changed after the final volume of the graphic novel was launched and fans reacted badly to the initial cut of the film during focus testing (O’Malley). So, even though the adapters had been given the author’s blessing to make an alternate ending and was happy with the final product, they ultimately had to bow to the will of fans and bend to the idea of adaptive fidelity.

remix of the ‘Fairy Fountain’ theme, a track which is synonymous in the Legend of Zelda series with healing and growth, when Scott sees Ramona for the very first time, which is an example of how aural remediation helps push character development and plot. Furthermore, the film remediates elements of fighting games, with each fight beginning with a pixelated ‘VS’ screen and certain battles using specific conventions like a combo meter and distinct visual prompts seen in fighting games like ‘Reversal!’ , which keep the film rooted in the world of the videogame. Also, similar to the Legend of Zelda example, a very specific game sound effect is used to end each battle, with the KO sound being sampled from the fighting game Street Fighter Alpha 3. Similar to the decisions with the film’s casting, not only do these elements act as humorous Easter Eggs (another video game convention) for knowing fans to spot, but the specificity of these examples add to the film’s identity as a ‘videogame movie’, whilst creating transmedial links between film and game.

While dealing with the comic book genre, both Sin City and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World engage subgenre conventions, with Sin City grappling with neo-noir while Scott Pilgrim vs. the World carves its own niche as a sort of ‘videogame’ movie. In his visual essay concerning Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as a ‘videogame movie’, Matthias Stork details how the several ‘remediation scenes from [Scott Pilgrim]… iterate [the film] in the formal context of video game history’. Very specific sound effects and musical cues from videogames are taken from their initial context and transplanted into the film. For example, the very opening of the film uses the game start jingle from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and then continues to use sound effects like the treasure chest opening jingle when certain characters enter into the frame and the narrative. The film even contains a

Like the ‘Pee Bar’ and the pixelated 1-up in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Sin City uses specific visual signifiers seen in other film noir, to establish itself as a neo-noir. The obvious reference to noirs of old is the film’s use of digitised black and white, mirroring Miller’s drawings. However, the film fails to show the ‘deep, murky gray morality’ of classic film noir (Wolk 177). While Miller may have femme fatales on every street corner and the grumble of the grizzled cop may echo through the streets, Sin City does not capture the essence of film noir. Basin City 20

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feels completely empty of the grit of other neo-noirs like the futuristic Los Angeles of Blade Runner, feeling more like a humourless parody where ‘all the women are whores… capable of handling a gun and taking a punch’ (Bould 110). The city is devoid of life, besides the aforementioned prostitutes and corrupt cops, making the whole viewing experience feel more like a sanitised walking tour, rather than a glimpse into the seedy underbelly of a big city.


Bould, Mark. Film Noir: From Berlin to Sin City. London: Wallflower, 2005. Web. Casetti, Francesco. “Adaptation and Mis-adaptation: Film, Literature, and Social Discourses.” A Companion to Literature and Film. Eds. Robert Stam and Alessandra Raengo. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2004. 81-91. Web.

Sin City is so overwhelming with its use of CGI and ultraviolence, that it forgets the element which make film noir so powerful. There is no real ambiguity, both in characterisation or in style. The main villain, Ethan Rourke Jr., is colour coded in yellow so viewers know he is evil and the sharp black and white colour palette removes any greys, both visually and morally. While it may copy many iconic noir shots like the darkened office lit through Venetian blinds and be narrated by many grizzled men with nothing to lose, ‘there is something monotonous and almost infantile’ in its attempts to be a neo-noir, unlike Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s concerted effort to capture the spirit and feel of both a comic book and a video game on film (Wolk 177).

Lefevre, Pascal. “Incompatible Visual Ontologies? The Problematic Adaptation of Drawn Images.” Film and Comic Books. Eds. Ian Gordon, Mark Jancovich and Matthew P. McAllister. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007. 1-12. Web. Morton, Drew. “From the Panel to the Frame: Style and Scott Pilgrim.” Online video clip. Vimeo. Vimeo, 10 Feb. 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2014. Neale, Steve. Genre and Hollywood. London: Routledge, 2000. Web. O’Malley, Bryan Lee (radiomaru). “None of Vol 6 is in the movie. Note that I haven’t finished writing it yet, but they’re already making a movie. Their ending is their ending.” 21 May 2009, 1:41pm. Tweet.

While both adaptations deploy genre convention effectively, Scott Pilgrim vs the World does a better job of actively using genre convention to help tell its story, by blending three different media together in a single film, to make it an almost transmedial experience. While Sin City does capture the look of film noir and certainly uses many genre conventions within it, it feels more like a bad pastiche of the noir genre, rather than a careful exploration of it. Its rapid deployment of so many noir tropes, crossed with its ridiculous physics and ultraviolence, do not ultimately mesh well to create a neo-noir that feels noir. Scott Pilgrim vs the World, on the other hand, feels controlled in its employing of comic book conventions, as its tight usage of remediation and specificity of references makes the communicative situations it produces feel incredibly pointed and meaningful. Sin City may be a faithful adaptation, unlike Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but its rigid adherence to fidelity makes it ultimately miss an opportunity to really explore Frank Miller’s world and create a noir for the new millennium.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Dir. Edgar Wright. Perf. Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh. Universal Pictures. 2010. Film. Sin City. Dir. Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez. Perf. Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen. Miramax Films, 2005. Film. Stork, Matthias. “The Video Game Film.” Online video clip. Vimeo. Vimeo, 14 Jul. 2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2014. Wolk, Douglas. Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean. Philadelphia: De Capo Press, 2007. Web.


INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS While once promising, the Oslo Accords now seem to be just part of a list of failed attempts to create peace between Israel and Palestine, with the most recent addition being the 2013—14 peace talks. Nonetheless, Oslo not only provides an important case study in understanding the history of the conflict but also as an example of failed peacemaking in the wider world. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. SUBJECT EDITORS Daniel Kibsgaard and Ribka Zerihun


The Oslo Accords of 1993 was a complex agreement involving the staged withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories and the transfer of responsibilities to an interim administration. In your assessment why has it not worked? What would have been an alternative approach to achieve a negotiated solution? to the criteria of the agreement itself but in fact largely a consequence of the behaviour and events that happened in the succeeding years. Others claim it was Ehud Barak’s right wing government (19992001) and their unwillingness to negotiate that was responsible for the final failure. However, in this essay I will investigate Oslo’s potential for success, analyse the factors responsible for its failure and in turn suggest an alternative approach.

written by Paris Baker


he Norwegian foreign ministry were determined to aid the formulation of a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. They initiated secret talks between Israel and Palestine which in turn led to The Oslo Agreement in 1993 (Lawrence, J. 1996, p.78). It represented a ‘historic moment’ as Yasser Arafat (President of the Palestinian Authority, 19942004) stated, as it was the first time Palestine and Israel were brought together face to face (Gelvin, J., 2005) (Shlaim, A. 1994 p 25). This is in part a result of a left wing government, led by Yitzhak Rabin, (prime minister of Israel, 1992-1995) who were actively prepared to form negotiations. The goal was a peaceful coexistence due to a Permanent Status Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) (Pundak, 2001). The accord was bipartite; the first stage consisted of a Declaration, produced in 1993, and a second stage was subsequent negotiations to be staged over the following five years. It only really functioned until early 1994; where Rabin froze it in response to Baruch Goldstein’s massacre, as Rabin interpreted the event to represent an anti-Oslo response throughout Israel (Murado, M. 2007, p197). However, the Accords officially ended in 2000 at Camp David.

The Potential to Work?

Influenced by Pundak, I am very sceptical as to whether peace was ever actually possible. However, there is some evidence to suggest there was potential for success. Primarily, as Avi Shlaim noted, Israel officially recognised the existence of the PLO as a representative body rather than just ‘people with political rights’ (Shlaim, A. 1994 p25). As Rabin stated “There would be no escape from recognizing the PLO” (Shlaim, A. 1994 p.32). This suggests a potential shift in the Israeli stance. Additionally, the agreement had significant support of Israeli citizens; sixty percent of Israelis supported the accord (Gelvin, 2005, p.234). Moreover, the negotiators had learned from mistakes from previous negotiation attempts, such as the Roger’s Plan, 1967 and the Madrid Conference, 1991. Consequently, the negotiation method comprised of small ‘confidence building steps’ which would eventually lead to ‘big ticket items’ (Gelvin, 2005, p.234), However, Gelvin ultimately began to question whether, in actuality, this compromising strategy was in part a result of Oslo’s failure? Primarily; rather than forming agreements on the large fundamental issues, such as Jerusalem, it encouraged the opponents to continuously barter

A popular belief is that it was the negotiations that were responsible for much of the failure of Oslo, partly due to the fact that the Declaration failed to approach vital issues. Instead, it was the subsequent negotiations that had to handle the bulk of the sensitive issues, such as Jerusalem and Palestinian refugee’s right of return (Pundak, 2001). Due to this, I propose that the failure was not simply due 22

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over small issues as much as possible in order that in the following negotiations they would be situated in the best possible position. Additionally, he states that it is somewhat presumptuous to assume that negotiations on the small, less uncontroversial issues would automatically result in large scale negotiations. He used the example: even if Israel agreed to disassemble settlements, this does not necessarily translate that they would be willing to form a pact on Jerusalem. Consequently, Gelvin’s understanding causes me to question whether the Oslo Accord had any real chance of working from the outset.

West Bank deployment (Said, E. p.15). Additionally, in the late 1990s, the PA’s attempt of ignoring the historic Jewish association with the Temple Mount, had the effect of demeaning the Jewish Israelis. This was exacerbated by the Palestinian’s proposal of rewarding the right of return to all refugees to Israel. (Pundak, 2001 p.43). It initiated the impression that the Palestinians were still aiming to remove the Jewish state, which created the further impression that they were intending to destroy one of the core principles of the agreement; ‘two states for two peoples’ (Pundak, 2001 p.43). In reality, during the negotiations, the Palestinians held an increasingly moderate position towards this, yet even mentioning such a sensitive Israeli concern was unwise as it caused huge disruption to the negotiations.

Palestinians’ Negotiation Strategies

The Palestinian’s negotiating strategies can also be held partly responsible for Oslo’s failure. Primarily, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was weak due to their corrupt and dictatorial leadership (Said, E. 2001). Arafat continually made unrealistic promises (due to his power seeking nature) which he failed to follow through, hence, he failed to negotiate (Said, E. 2001 p.110). Instead he simply surrendered and accepted Israeli commands, for example; Said notes that the PA simply accepted the 1995 agreement over the

Neither Side Ready for Peace

In spite of the agreement, violence continued in Israel a decade later. This violence was begun by the assassination of Rabin by an Israeli militant, arguing that Rabin had given away too much power to the Arabs (Gelvin, J. 2005). The latter alone suggests to me that a possible cause for Oslo’s failure may have been due to too much fragmentation within the Israeli community for them to form a unified solution. Additionally, the former suggest that

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neither sides were ready for such a compromise yet. This suggestion is emphasized by the Likud’s revelation that they did not desire to form any further concessions with the PLO, hence they were attempting to decrease the effects of Oslo (Gelvin, J. 2005). Additionally, there is much evidence to suggest that Rabin was not ready for peace. Primarily because, despite formally recognising the PLO, he continuously critiqued the organisation, which was emphasized when it was made evident that he regarded Arafat as his ‘archenemy’ and the main obstacle for security in Israel (Shalaim, A. 1994 p28). Furthermore, due to his hostile feelings towards the PLO, he had no long term strategy for the peace talks. Instead, Israeli insiders revealed that his only planned method was to ‘play for time’ (Shalaim, A. 1994, p30). Consequently, this suggests to me that even the Israeli leader, who was participating in the negotiations was not ready to form a lasting peace agreement and permanent solution. Moreover, Riad Malki noted that neither leaders took risks when compromising. For example; Arafat declared that his only potential Israeli partner was Rabin. After Rabin’s assassination, the negotiations were halted, and he refused to continue the discussions now that his ‘partner Rabin’ was no longer present (Malki, R. 2007, p.183). Moreover, Shaul Gabbay proposed that although the leaders may have desired peace, they failed to create an environment favourable to peace, necessary to convince the public that peace was required. This was in part, a result of the conflicting sides not trusting one another, he cited that trust is an essential feature for the ‘build-up of productive ties’ consequently, he concluded that no one was ready for peace (Malki, R. 2007, p.182). Yet the failure of Camp David suggests that even by 2000, neither side was prepared to compromise, this causes me to question; will they ever be ready? Additionally, Israel Shakak concluded that it would take a ‘cataclysmic natural disaster’ or an ‘unimaginably large campaign’ to remove the Israelis from their settlements (Said, E. 2001 p.109). Due to the result of Oslo and Camp David, I am substantially persuaded by his analysis; until the Israelis are prepared to make concessions over the control of settlements, a mutual peace agreement will not be achieved

the Oslo agreement simply represents the unequal power structures highlighting the strength of Israel rather than a law of universal justice (Roy, S. 2002, p.16). The power asymmetry was demonstrated by the official reinterpretation of Resolution 242 in the Hebron Protocol (1997). Resolution 242 was the only legal foundation of Oslo. The two sides interpreted the resolution differently. Israel understood it to demand for the departure of Israeli troops only from territories occupied in 1967, as opposed to all Arab territories. The PLO and broader international community understood it to be the latter. However, Arafat’s signing of the Hebron Protocol represented the death of the Palestinian interpretation and hence provided Israel with the authority, supported by the United States to choose for itself from which of the occupied areas it would depart and from which it would remain (Roy, S. 2002 p.18). This evidence leads me to suggest that power asymmetry was a huge factor that prevented Oslo from having any potential to work. I think in order to form ‘mutual’ respect, it is necessary that Israel relaxes an element of its power.

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My Alternative Solution


My analysis on the faults of the 1993 accords aids me to suggest two alternative approaches. Primarily; both sides should have listened to their people’s desires and established a unified, clear and constant position that is accepted by the majority of the population, before entering into the negotiations. As Azmi Bishara noted, each time the Israeli government leader changed, as did their interpretation of the agreement (Bishara, A. 1998, p.212). Similarly, the PA did not reflect or even listen to the desires of the Palestinians, instead it blocked itself off from them and simply represented Arafat’s desire of ‘one man rule’ (Said, E. 2001 p.19). My solution; free debate within the Palestinian side before convening with Rabin. I think Said captures in one sentence a solution to the Palestinian’s approach, (furthermore, I think the Israelis could have adopted it also); to learn from Syria; ‘to accept the idea of peace and negotiations, but also not to discard principle and national priories’ (Said, E. 2001 p.19). I think this is a necessary condition for a successful agreement. However, I accept that this goal may be significantly complex and problematic to attain as both sides contain a cosmic variety of conflicting opinions. Secondly, an alternative solution would have been to involve a significant number of informal sessions throughout the negotiation process. These would

Power Asymmetry

Despite Israel and the PLO supposedly trading “mutual” respect and recognition by signing the Oslo I agreement, power symmetry failed to exist at any time. Israel, was consistently the fully sovereign state, possessing complete power. Consequently, 24

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have led to a better chance of success as they avoid intense media examination, which in turn resulted in public scepticism. In informal sessions, the sides would not have had the chance to ‘thrive of ambiguity and deferring difficult problems’ which resulted in them playing ‘to the home crowd by spouting uncompromising opening positions’ (Makovsky, D. 1995, p.130).

Lawrence, J. (1996) ‘Madrid and Oslo’, in Joffe, L. Keesing’s guide to the Mid-East peace process. London: Cartermill.

In conclusion, I think the factors discussed are all reasons to explain the failure of Oslo. However, I am sceptical as to whether any alternative approaches would have led to successful negotiations. I think the chance of success would have remained very minimal as neither sides, especially the Israelis were prepared for peace. After my analysis on Oslo, somewhat pessimistically I agree with Israel Shakak’s analysis that only a ‘cataclysmic natural disaster ‘or an ‘unimaginably large campaign’ will remove the Israelis from their settlements. Accordingly, I am sceptical whether even in 2015 the Israelis are ready for peace. Until one of these proceedings happen, I am unpersuaded that a successful solution will ever be achieved.

Malki, R. (2007) ‘The Palestinian Public and what has gone wrong in Israel-Palestine Negotiations’, in Corr, E., Ginat, J., Gabbay, S., Talal, H. bin, and Boren, D. The search for Israel-Arab peace: learning from the past and building trust. United Kingdom: Sussex Academic Press.

Makovsky, D. (1995) ‘The Lessons of Oslo’, in Makovsky, D. and Satloff, R. Making peace with the PLO: the Rabin government’s road to the Oslo Accord. United States: Westview Press Inc.

Murado, M. (2007) ‘Did Anything Go Wrong?’, in Corr, E., Ginat, J., Gabbay, S., Talal, H. bin, and Boren, D. The search for Israel-Arab peace: learning from the past and building trust. United Kingdom: Sussex Academic Press. Pundak (2001) ‘From Oslo to Taba: What Went Wrong?’, Survival, 43(3), pp. 31–46. doi: 10.1093/ survival/43.3.31.


Roy, S. (2002) ‘Why Peace Failed: An Oslo Autopsy’, Current History. (651), 100, pp. 11–27.

Bishara, A. (1998) ‘Reflection on the Realities of the Oslo Process’, in Giacaman, G. and Lonning, D. J. After Oslo: New Realities, Old Problems. United Kingdom: Pluto Press.

Said, E. (2001) The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Gelvin, J. (2005) ‘The Rise and Fall of the Oslo Accord’, in Gelvin, J. The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Shlaim, A. (1994) ‘The Oslo Accord’, Journal of Palestine Studies. University of California Press, 23(3), pp. 24–40.


COULD YOU BE WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR? We’re looking for undergraduates to join our ADMIN TEAM for the 2016/17 committee. Available Roles:

President Director of Sponsorship and Strategy Head of The Undergraduate Live Assistant of The Undergraduate Live Treasurer PR& Marketing Photographer Check the details and how to apply at: 26

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LAW We would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone that submitted their work. The standard that we have received has been amazing! The piece that we selected for this edition concerns the social and legal treatment of intersex individuals and how the law focuses on genitalia as the method of classification of gender. We hope that you find this article interesting and engaging. SUBJECT EDITORS Helena Gadsby and Jessica George

“[In Law] difference is based on binary oppositions like nature/ culture, male/female, black/white, raw/cooked and so on…The interesting point here is that the dichotomies are not ‘neutral’; they have been the means of fixing meaning in ways that secure power relations and inequalities in and of themselves.”1 written by Aisling Melvin


he ‘gender binary’ is a division that determines the social and legal treatment of intersex individuals1. The binary is an artificially-construed paradigm, developed through societal expectations and enforced through behaviour. Consequently these repeated patterns establish, maintain and secure particular relationships. Those who challenge these boundaries, such as intersexuals (through a biological deviation), pose a threat to the artificial divisions and the ‘binary warriors’2 retaliate with severe methods to reinstate the gender binary. This pattern of conformity occurs to many minority groups of nonconformists, but this paper will discuss this issue with a specific reference to intersexuals because of the unique, raw and distinctly-biological (and therefore fundamental)3 challenge that they present to the gender binary. In exploring the social and legal treatment of intersexuals and a critical assessment of intersex surgery and society’s focus on genitalia as means to classify, it will be argued that intersexuals present a justified threat to the status quo. In this sense, this paper seeks to affirm the validity and pessimism of Ludvig’s statement4.

The Poisonous Binary – The Gender Binary

For intersexuals, the gender binary is awkward, damaging and has a resounding impact on their legal personhood and social treatment. It is a decisive dichotomy, entrenched and visible from the day a child’s sex is registered at birth to the conscious choice of clothing, costumes and toys throughout childhood, a pattern of behaviour Butler refers to as “girling the girl” and “boy-ing the boy”.5 Through this collective societal behaviour Wilchin’s assertion “to participate in society, we must be sexed” is formed.6 In this sense Ludvig’s statement is correct in that the

1 Intersexuality is the condition of having genitals/ chromosomes/gonads that do not fit into binary notions of 'male' or 'female'. 2 'Binary warriors' are those who wish to enforce binary oppositions, i.e. classification of sex and gender into distinct forms of masculine and feminine. 3 In contrast to transsexuals who do not question the gender binary in its entirely, but merely where they are placed on the binary based on their own self-diagnosis.


5 P.L. Chau and Jonathan Herring, 'Defining, Assigning and Designing Sex' [2002] International Journal of Law, Policy and Family 327, 327. 6 R.A. Wilchins, Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender (New York: Firebrand Books 1997) 56.

Ludvig (n 1).


law is based upon these clear divisions and societal behaviour serves to uphold the classification system of the gender binary and its exhaustive categories. As “a system of regulations which depends upon precise definitions…[the law] is obliged to classify its material into exclusive categories; it is therefore a binary system designed to produce conclusions of the yes or no type”.7 It will be argued that the prevalence of this socially-construed dichotomy marginalises the autonomy of intersexuals, poses serious questions concerning the validity and existence of consent and oppresses the individuals that challenge the binarynorm.

gender binary, intersexuals are subject to the arbitrary authority and questionable assessment of the medical profession who, by advising and performing the intersex surgery, ensure strict adherence to the socially-construed gender binary. This interference, is due to the law’s failure to provide for and thereby protect intersexuals. There are no national, international or universal rules governing the standards of intervention, or guidelines governing the social and legal treatment of intersexuals.12 This absenteeism of the law serves to normalise and legitimise the interference of the medical profession, the surgeries and the narrow-minded and unproven theories that befall the treatment of intersexuals.13 By ignoring this issue, the legislature provides an environment whereby the gender binary prevails, rendering intersexuals invisible and unprotected under the law. Consequently the inequality, as referred to in Ludvig’s statement is manifested through a gender bias of the law and a gendered interaction between the law and society is revealed.

Challenging the Binary

A group of individuals who challenge the fixed system of social classification that “exalts biology over sociology”8 are intersexuals. By definition, intersexuals are individuals who have varying anomalies to the genitalia.9 Their challenge to the status quo is overborn with interventionist surgery10, a practice which represents the beginning of a very early training in gender norms and expectations. It is argued that the intersex surgery demonstrates our inherent determination to live within the confines of the gender binary and acts as a control mechanism, an idea put forward by Anne Fausto-Sterling; “to maintain gender divisions, we must control those bodies which are so unruly as to blur the borders. Since intersexuals quite literally embody both sexes, they weaken claims about sexual difference”.11 Thus, despite the prima facie challenge that intersexuals pose to the credibility of the gender binary, the dichotomy is powerfully established and secured by the practice of intersex surgery.

12 Marie Fox and Michael Thomson, ‘Cutting It: Surgical Interventions and the Sexing of Children’ [2005] Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender 81, 85. 13 ibid 86.

The Medical Profession’s Intervention

Despite challenging the appropriateness of the 7 Roger Ormrod, 'The Medico-Legal Aspects of Sex Determination' (1972) 40 Medico-Legal Journal 78, 78. 8 M Rothblatt, The Apartheid of Sex: A Manifesto on the Freedom of Gender, (New York: Crown 1995) 102. 9 Nancy Ehrenreich with Mark Barr, ‘Intersex Surgery, Female Genital Cutting, and the Selective Condemnation of “Cultural Practices"' [2005] 40 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 74. 10 Despite the fact that the majority of intersexed children do not require the surgery to cure a physiological illness – see Chau and Herring (n 6) 353. 11 Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body, (New York: Basic Books 2000) 8.

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The medical treatment commences with the presumption that at birth the doctor should discover the “true sex” of the intersex child.14 Parents are told that the child’s sexual organs are unfinished and that any surgery is just completing their ‘natural development’.15 This rhetoric, motivated by the parameters of the gender binary, represents the rationale behind Dr John Money’s John/Joan infamous intersex case. Dr Money preferred the idea that “the acquisition of sexual identity is a matter of social conditioning16 rather than that of biology”.17 Therefore, while we see Dr Money’s analysis working within the confines of gender binary, his reasoning opts to prefer the learned route of social behaviour, in contrast to the biological (and usually genitalia and gender focused) route as a means to classify difference. While there is a differing of perspective, Dr Money’s efforts yielded the same result and intersexuals were artificially corrected to fit societal gender (and genitalia-based) expectations.


Exploring the rationale behind the surgery serves to highlight “the spurious basis of medical justifications for intersex surgeries”18 but also reveals a problematic power dynamic between the intersexual19, the parents/ guardians, and the physician. The reality is that “families typically remain marginal in the decisionmaking process regarding evaluation and treatment, while the medical team retains nearly exclusive control over the situation”.20 In addition parents are usually poorly informed of the effects, consequences and extent of the surgery and its aftermath. With the medical profession as the domineering service, doctors have adopted an uncomfortable and active role of ‘life advisor’ while the parents retain a passive role and the intersexual’s views are ignored. Not only does the intersexual remain marginalised and invisible in contrast to those individuals born neatly within the gender binary, but their autonomy is fatally undermined by the medical profession, who

are “justified” in their actions through the sociallyartificial values grounded by the gender dichotomy. It should also be noted that this extension of power through critical decision-making has a prolonged effect on the individual’s life, as can be seen in the following participant quote: “The doctors told my parents that they should push me into a career and make me become a busy woman, so maybe I wouldn’t have time to settle down and have a family.”21 Thus, a unique triangular power relationship between the physician, parents/guardians and the intersexuals exists whereby the physician, on a flawed analysis, determines the future of the child.


With questions of autonomy, questions of consent22 usually follow. It is (for obvious reasons) abhorred that the surgery is completed at a time when an individual cannot express consent or a preference towards or against the surgery. The treatment is imposed, and the “medical community promote seriously-flawed proposals that advocate routine surgical interventions motivated by shared ideals of ensuring sex or gender stability”.23 This paper concludes that the surgery should not be performed without the direct and informed consent of the intersexual themselves. It follows therefore that the issue is not necessarily a question concerning difference (and the binaries) in law as Ludvig has phrased it, but rather an issue concerning the sacrifice of autonomy and consent in law. The treatment of intersexuals should allow the possibility that the gender-based rationale behind the surgery is not fatal to the treatment of the intersexual, but rather, the circumstances in which the surgery is performed.

The Resulting Power Dynamic

The Binary’s Obsession with Genitalia

Through a deeper analysis of the treatment of intersexuals, the importance placed on male and female characteristics as the primary indication

14 Chau and Herring (n 6) 334. 15 ibid 327. 16 Similar to the aforementioned Butler analysis of “girling the girl and boying the boy”, Chau and Herring (n 6). 17 Fox and Thomson (n 13) 86. 18 ibid 85. 19 Who, on average, is very young at the time the surgery is performed. 20 Sharon Preves, ‘Sexing the Intersexed: An Analysis of Sociocultural Responses to Intersexuality’ [2002] 27(2) Journal of Women in Culture and Society 523, 529.

21 This advice was given to the parents of an intersex child based on the fact that as an intersex woman she could not have children. 22 It is submitted that the debate surrounding meaningful consent cannot be considered as the surgery is performed on individuals at the age of incapacity to consent. 23 Fox and Thomson (n 13) 86.


of social conformity is visible, continuing the permeation of the gender binary within society. The medical profession, as the primary subjects within this power imbalance as discussed, demonstrate an uncompromising commitment to the genitalia as an indicator of gender and sex.

of intersexuals would be based on the misplaced assumption that “surgery on genitals would ensure confidence in sexual identity”.31 As phrased by Chau and Herring ”surgery change[s] one aspect of the sexual ambiguity: the genitalia”.32


The “phallocentric ideologies perpetrated by patriarchy”24 as accurately labelled by Daly are demonstrated through the use of the ‘Locker Room Test’ to determine the social acceptability of a penis based on size. The shortcomings of this approach are vast and many but the first criticism is based on the narrow-minded and short-sighted view of the test. Penis size at birth, if that is to be the measurement of social prestige, is not an accurate indication of size during puberty or adulthood. Moreover, as there are no standard rules governing this area, is the yardstick of acceptability a matter of personal opinion for the physician? In any case, the “worries in male [and female] gender choice are more social than medical”25 and “the persistent focus on the abnormality of intersexed bodies further privileges bodies that are not intersexed”.26 We can also observe the judiciary’s desire to follow suit and focus on the acceptability of genitalia as a means to judge. This was particularly evident in the judgement of Hooper J in R v Matthews27 whereby he commented that “the victim’s vagina was a vagina in the eyes of the law”.28 It was further seen in Corbett v Corbett (Ashley)29 where a vagina was described as an “artificial cavity”. 30 It is strongly argued that this tasteless judicial analysis of the acceptability of genitalia is extremely inappropriate, and further acts of as a non-critical reinforcement of the male/female characteristic obsessed attitude of the medical profession. The judiciary should be questioning the status quo, questioning the means of classification and protecting those that are marginalised by the strict binary of gender and its respective sociallyimportant characteristics. Finally, it is submitted that a focus on genitalia forms an extremely limited view of the constitution of identity. It incurs that any solution to the oppression

The traditional attitude of the medical profession and the judiciary is that an intersex child is “really” a boy or a girl and that they are “unusual in some aspect of their physiology, not that they constitute a category other than male or female”.33 This limited understanding no longer represents the public consensus toward intersexuals and there is a movement towards questioning “whether it is correct that people should be required to fit to the convenience of legal convenience rather than the law reflecting the complexities and realities for individuals”.34 By identifying the limitations of the gender binary and its restrictive and close-minded application to the treatment of individuals within society, we can reconvene and consider more appropriate methods of classification that the law can use to treat difference.

A Third Gender?

“I don’t want to morph into a blue or pink box; I want to stay in my silver box”35 One approach would be to recognise the existence of a third gender notwithstanding the fact that “inaugurating a third term or gender position has consistently been rendered inconceivable within legal discourse”.36 In a realm of acceptance rather than conformity a third gender would serve to understand intersexuality and would prevent “lead[ing] to forcing people into bland androgyny but [will] recognise the complexity of every individual”.37 However Jonathan Herring notes the limitations and 31

Chau and Herring (n 6) 338.



33 Fausto-Sterling (n 12) 51. 34 Chau and Herring (n 6) 354. 35 Sarah Morrison, ‘Special report: Intersex women speak out to protect the next generation’ (The Independent, 30 November 2013) <http://www.> accessed 3 December 2015. 36 Andrew Sharpe, ‘Endless Sex: The Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Persistence of a Legal Category’ [2007] Feminist Legal Studies 57, 60. 37 Chau and Herring (n 6) 358.

24 Louis Bibbings, ‘Female Circumcision: Mutilation or Modification?’ in J. Bridgeman and S. Millns (eds), Law and Body Politics (Aldershot: Dartmouth). 25 Fausto-Sterling (n 12) 58. 26 Preves (n 21) 525. 27 R v Matthews (Crown Court, 28 October 1996). 28 Chau and Herring (n 6) 345. 29 Corbett v Corbett (Ashley) [1970] 3 WLR 195. 30 ibid.


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criticism of this approach and this paper agrees; “Once one accepts the argument that the male-female dyad is a social construction, which unreasonably restricts people’s sexual identity into one of the two sexes, it becomes hard to deny that restricting people to three identities is open to identical objections”.38 It is also suggested that because of the variation of intersexuality (as understood by the medical profession), it might be difficult to ascertain the exact definition of the third gender and thereby ostracise any class of intersexuals that do not conform.

A Gender Spectrum?

For these reasons Rothblatt’s ‘sexual continuism’ is preferred.39 Placing gender on a spectrum would allow the law to recognise difference in a much broader capacity. Genitalia could be used as one criteria in the classification of individuals on the spectrum and we could focus on psychological factors and the welfare of the individual. Whatever approach is pursued, it is submitted that biological factors (such as genitalia) should be treated as a related, but distinct entity to sex and not the sole basis for the classification of gender.


This paper has identified the manner in which our most fundamental legal and social dichotomy, the gender binary, has served to fix the power relations and inequalities present in the lives of intersexuals. These individuals, who deviate non-deliberately from the norm are discriminated against by the socially-construed artificiality and unjust nature of the gender binary. Behind the socio-legal analysis, a class of citizens are invisible and more susceptible to oppression from the patriarchal force of society and the dictation of the medical profession. Moving forward, it is strongly argued that the focus of the law, and societal expectations should be towards acceptability of difference. As Davis states of the deaf/hearing dichotomy “the ‘problem’ is not the person with the disability; the problem is the way that normalcy is constructed to create the ‘problem’ of the disabled person”.40




38 ibid 356. 39 Rothblatt (n 9). 40 Christopher Newell, ‘Narrating Normalcy: Disability, Medicine and Ethics Commentary on Stowe et al, Journal on Developmental Disabilities’, [2007] 13 Journal on Developmental Disabilities 65, 65.


MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES Artists from around the world have long been inspired by religious faith, and their work often becomes an important part of a shared cultural heritage. This essay provides an excellent introduction to some of key themes and debates in Islamic art, focusing on the stunning Ardebil Carpet, which has its origins in the Iranian Safavid period. SUBJECT EDITOR Helena Bennett

Describe the main characteristics of Islamic Art as illustrated by an object or building of your choice. as evidence against the theory that the carpet was made for the Shrine at Ardabil. In this essay, I will highlight these discrepancies, whilst focussing on how the carpet exhibits common features found in Islamic Art. For simplicity, I will refer primarily to the London carpet, since this is the complete example.

written by Rebecca Barlow-Noone


hroughout Islamic history, art has been central in providing lasting evidence for the ways the faith has been interpreted over the centuries, especially art found in religious buildings. One of the greatest, and too often overlooked, expressions of Islamic Art is in the production of religious carpets. Evidence for the significance of carpets in Islam is limited before the 16th Century, yet with the beginning of Safavid rule in 1501 in Persia, weaving was turned from a ‘cottage industry’ to a national manufacturing business. Shah Abbas I founded factories in both Isfahan and Kashan, and weavers were known to sign significant works, expressing the increased social and religious significance of the art form (Hillenbrand, 2002: 246).

Firstly, the Ardabil Carpet illustrates the visual unity and self imitation of mosque artwork, which does not reflect that of the Shrine at Ardabil. The central ‘shamsa’ or sunburst central medallion is the focal point of the carpet, and thus the most significant in its religious context. It is used to mirror the dome above, and gives insight into the religious space it used to inhabit. It is clear that this is a reflection of the dome due to the use of colour and pattern; the surrounding cartouches suggest a slow movement upwards, before the depth of the dome is emulated in the shamsa; the concentration of background motifs also increases, and the central shamsa is ‘more brilliant’ than the corner quadrants (Beattie, 1986), suggesting the increased light and centrality of the dome. This harmony of light evokes the ‘dome and thus the heavens’ (Hillenbrand, 1999: 248), exposing a snapshot of the beauty in paradise. This sense of focus towards a central point reflects emanation, the Neoplatonist concept of the overflow of God’s perfection, which can be compared with the architecture of the Madrasa ben Youssef in Morocco. The main gate is emulated numerous times in the spandrel, which both emphasises the beauty of the architecture and acts as an intimidating reminder of God’s omnipotence and judgement by using an oppressive, bold structure (Kristo-Nagy, 2015). Whilst the gate’s emanation evokes fear in contrast to paradise in the carpet, both applications of graduation from a centrality to represent emanation establishes a sense of awe in the viewer, and is therefore very common in Islamic Art.

The Ardabil Carpet is arguably the most widely recognisable of all Safavid artistry, and also one of the most mysterious given its contested origins. Often described as the ‘finest expression of Safavid religious art’ (Bamborough, 1979: 47), it is an example of the synthesis of pattern and symbolism present in a sacred space, where expressions of religious grandeur can be found across all sources of religious artistry, from tilework and architecture to weaving. Made approximately in 1539-40, the carpet is believed to have been created at the behest of Shah Tahmasp for the Ardabil Shrine, however much of its history was lost as it was traded and eventually displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In addition, the carpet in London has a twin currently in Los Angeles, which was used to restore the London carpet. This further complicates the suggestion that the carpets were made for the Shrine, since evidence shows both carpets could not physically fit in the room they supposedly inhabited (Stead, 1974: 37). In addition to the physical incompatibilities regarding the carpet’s origins, the characteristics of the carpet’s Islamic design serve 32

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The self-imitating purpose of the shamsa in Islamic carpets therefore disproves the current theory that both carpets were placed together in the Ardabil Shrine. Firstly, the proposition that they were laid in the Ghandil Khaneh prayer hall of the Ardabil Shrine aside each other is impossible; as already mentioned, even the dimensions of a single carpet exceeds that of the room, let alone two together (Stead, 1974: 37). The second theory, upheld by the Victoria and Albert Museum, suggests that the carpets were placed in the Jannatsara; yet here, only one dome exists (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2015a), which would create an imbalance in the room with the same dome reflected twice. Such an imbalance is unlikely to appear in the Safavid dynastic shrine, where intricate and precise pattern in the architecture of the building is evidently a priority (Iran Review, 2010).

The intricate curvilinear background further supports the theory that the carpet was not intended for the Ardabil Shrine. As already described, the central shamsa is a reflection of a dome; however, when observed closely, the elaborate floral ground design betrays further movement in the ceiling. Stead (1974: 26) upholds that the carpet reflects a single dome with ‘two lamps hanging down from either side’, however the background is arranged in circular motions on each side of the shamsa to suggest two lesser domes behind each lamp. This further undermines the notion that both carpets were placed in the Jannatsara, as the carpets together would reflect 6 domes of differing heights, which is clearly not a feature in the octagonal shaped space (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2015a). Without the evidence of self-imitation between the carpets and the architecture, it is very difficult to prove that the Shrine was their origin. It should be noted that self-imitation of the ceiling in the carpet is rendered two dimensionally. This is indicative of stylistic traditions in medieval art, where design is reflective of the medium and of its inherent religious symbolism. In a mystical interpretation, observers of the carpet are led inward in their search for truth in existence away from the three dimensional world, so Islamic truths are “released” from “confinement within the dimensions” (Critchlow, 1976: 8), allowing the carpet to transcend this world and evoke a sense of the beauty of paradise and the truth of existence. This very Sufi-inspired interpretation is comparable to the words of Al-Ghazzali, who says that “the next world is a world of Spirit and of the manifestation of the Beauty of Allah; happy is that man who has aimed at and acquired affinity with it” (Al-Ghazzali, 1910: 46), affirming the religious necessity of artists to evoke the heavenly realm within art, rather than attempting to, and thus confining, the world we see around us.

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However, it is possible this overcomplicates a much simpler quality of Islamic art; that it matches the flat medium of the textile, and develops harmony between shape and decoration (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2015b). This would help to understand the unusual inclusion of two oddly proportioned lanterns in the carpet. Whilst they conform two-dimensionally, their unequal sizes have been understood as an ‘optical device’ to make them seem equal at a certain angle (Kleiner, 2008: 305). This is a poor estimation given that this characteristic is unique amongst other carpets from the period (Stead, 1974: 33

26). It could also reflect the Islamic principle that despite the beauty of the carpet, perfection belongs to God alone (Victoria and Albert Museum, 2015b); yet the lack of a root in Islamic aesthetics leaves all theories as purely speculative. The prominence of this design feature is evident of a symbolic meaning, however more conclusive research must be made to understand this mysterious aesthetic principle. The Ardabil Carpet employs a broad range of shapes which originate from traditions in Islamic aesthetics, which can be seen as visual translations of Qur’anic messages. Within Islamic artistry, skill is considered not a gift, but ‘knowledge to be acquired’, and therefore is not seen as self-expressive; each aspect of the external, ‘zahir’ imagery is expected to have an internal ‘batin’ meaning relating to religion, not the self (Ali, 2001). For example, the zahir symmetry and geometry in Islamic design is paramount to expressing batin spiritual ideas as well as fundamental aspects of faith. In entirely geometric pattern, representational depictions are void, and only ‘pure forms’ of shape exist, “giving structural insight into the workings of the inner self and their reflection in the universe” (Critchlow, 1976: 8). Whilst it may be interpreted as establishing a certain connection and unity with the universe, and by extension God, Critchlow appears to focus on a personal interpretation and does not observe the more obvious Islamic interpretation that “intricate geometric patterns… portray the infinity of Allah” (Othman and Abidin, 2011: 106). Despite baring floral design, the Ardabil Carpet also portrays infinity, as the background pattern appears to perpetually extend beyond the frame of the border; all that is visible is a portion of an ‘infinite composition’ (Hillenbrand, 1999: 248), which conveys natural and cosmic infinity, and thus the omnipotence of God.

(Baz, n.d.). It is important to note the direction of this accusation, as it is not the image itself that is condemned, but the artist. It is thus interpreted that perfection of beauty may only be achieved by God, and to attempt it would suggest one is competing with God. This is the reason why pattern is so abundant in Islamic religious art; to draw an animal or human life form, since the post-modern period, has been considered by some religious scholars as tantamount to contending with the artistic skill of God himself; thus many Islamic artists have since opted for ‘nonthreatening’ artwork by using geometry (Omaar, 2013). However, the idea that human or animal depiction was completely rejected amongst all Muslims has led to a misinterpretation of the Ardabil carpet. Instead of using abstract shapes and pure geometry, the vegetative imagery in the carpet contemplates natural repetition. “Without representing life, it provides a sense of growth and movement.” (Grabar, 1989: 224), and therefore complies with the common discouragement of depicting animals and humans. It is true that in many famous mosques, such as the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, imagery of paradise and animals exists everywhere in the building except for the Mosque area, which only features arabesque design (Kristo-Nagy, 2015). This knowledge has been transferred to prove the Ardabil carpet’s design “befits a carpet intended for a mosque”.(Kleiner, 2008: 360) Iran, however, was dominated by the Shi’ite faith, where illustrations of birds, animals and humans were common in mosque carpets; “a break with the stricter Sunni tradition of other Islamic lands” (Stead, 1974: 36). A contemporaneous carpet to the Ardabil was the Silk ‘hunting’ carpet, in the Boston Museum

The ability to extract Islamic meaning from art is also associated with religious learning and piety. Rather bluntly, Ali (2001) says the scholar “comprehends the logic of the composition”, whilst those ignorant to Islamic tradition view only aesthetic value. In the light of this statement, it is interesting to quote William Morris’s account of the carpet in a letter to Thomas Armstrong in 1893, where he describes it as “consistently beautiful, with no oddities” (Morris, 1996: 23). What he defines as an oddity is ambiguous, however if in relation to the design, it exposes his lesser understanding of the Islamic idea that perfection by human hand is impossible. This is due to the Hadith stating that “those who make these images will be punished on the Day of Resurrection” 34

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of Fine Arts. Depicting birds, drinkers, and even dragons, the carpet was rich in Chinese influence and evokes “the vision of God’s real Paradise” (Grabar, 1989: 212). However, this carpet is also believed to have belonged at the Safavid Ardabil Shrine with a “religious or holy purpose” (Ibid: 214). Therefore, interpretation of what was permitted or offensive in Islamic art is very subjective, and differs amongst schools and sects. The carpet may or may not have been intended specifically for a mosque, but this is not a determining factor. It is important for art historians to recognise that cultural and religious differences create a plethora of interpretations, which is strongly reflected in the vast array and design in Islamic Art. Islamic art is a multi-faceted, rich and symbolic expression of faith, one which is often misrepresented by historians by not viewing it in context, especially relating to the depiction of animals and humans in mosques. Regarding the Ardabil Carpets, the artistic concept of self-imitation in mosques and other Islamic buildings is critical in understanding the carpets’ origins, as well as by highlighting the dome, the most important architectural feature of a mosque, through reflection in the shamsa. Analysis has also consolidated the importance of the curvilinear background in expressing God’s infinite nature, and in challenging their supposed origins. This clearly exposes the lack of research into these outstanding carpets. More effort needs to be placed on analysing the batin behind the carpets’ religious symbolism, especially regarding the nature of the two lamps, to gain a fuller understanding into the purpose of the artwork. Nevertheless, the London carpet is an excellent example of characteristics in Islamic Art, and underlines the intricacy and religious significance in the art of weaving, a genre which deserves much more recognition.

persian-carpet-acquired-by-the-victoria-and-albertmuseum-in-1893. Last accessed 27th Nov 2015. Critchlow, K (1976). Islamic Patterns. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. Ghazzali, Al. (1910). The Alchemy of Happiness. Trans. Claud Field. Available: books/2005/The-Alchemy-of-Happiness.pdf. Last accessed 20th Nov 2015. Grabar, O (1989). The Meditation of Ornament. Oxford: Princeton University Press. Hillenbrand, R (1999). Islamic Art and Architecture. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. Iran Review (2010). Image of Ardabil Shrine. Digital image. Iran Review. Web. Available: http://www. Historical_Sites_on_UNESCO’s_List.htm. Last Accessed 25th Nov 2015. Kleiner, F (2009). Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History. 13th ed. Boston: Clark Baxter. Kristó-Nagy, I (2015, November 24). Islamic Art and Architecture [lecture]. Morris, W (1996). The Collected Letters of William Morris, Volume IV: 1893-1896. Chichester: Princeton University Press. Omaar, R (2013). The Hidden Art of Islam. BBC4. 30.04.2013. 23:25. Othman, R. Zainal-Abidin, Z.J. (2011). The Importance of Islamic Art in Mosque Interior. Procedia Engineering. 20, p105-109. Stead, R (1974). The Ardabil Carpets. Malibu: Getty Publications.


Ali, W. (2001). Al-Ghazali and Aesthetics. Available: Al-Ghazali and Aesthetics. Last accessed 20th Nov 2015.

Victoria and Albert Museum. (2015a). History of the Ardabil Carpet. Available: http://http://www. Last accessed 20th Nov 2015.

Baz, A. (n.d.). Ahadith Concerning Taswir (Pictures). Available: Last accessed 21st Nov 2015.

Victoria and Albert Museum. (2015b). The Design of the Ardabil Carpet. Available: http://www.vam. Last accessed 20th Nov 2015.

Bamborough, P (1989). Antique Oriental Rugs and Carpets. London: Blandford Press. Beattie, M. (1986). ARDABĪL CARPET. Available:

MODERN LANGUAGES First of all, thank you very much to everyone for submitting such fine and compelling essays. I am proud to say that Modern Languages was one of the sections that received the most submissions, which made it even more difficult to choose. In the end, I selected this piece, because it draws attention to a war that society so often forgets to acknowledge properly - both in the past and today. This particular essay is a well-organised and smooth read, which I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did. SUBJECT EDITOR Victoria Horbach

Discuss the representation of War and its repercussions in any two post-New Wave French films in a café. However, Cléo draws no attention to this. As Rebecca Pulju states, Cléo’s lack of connection to, or interest in, political events is ‘apparent early in the film;’4 and yet, one could say this of most of the film’s characters, as Cléo’s fellow passengers in the taxi are similarly not moved by the story. Demy takes this disinterest a step further in Les Parapluies, where the presence of the war is not felt at all until Guy is conscripted. Even then, the subject is firmly brushed under the carpet: William B. Cohen highlights how ‘the soldier has gone ‘over there,’’ but that ‘the name ‘Algeria’ is never directly mentioned.’5 Therefore, we see a representation of the clandestine nature of the conflict, and the disinterest manifested by it.

written by Emma Norman


rench cinema of the 1960s aimed to tackle contemporary social and political issues, including war. The case study of choice during this period was the Algerian War (1954-1962), which, in films as in real life, was a conflict that was everpresent in civilian minds, but never present on screen, as the French government attempted to conceal the atrocities committed by its army on Algerian soldiers and civilians. It was not acknowledged as a war by the French government until the late 1990s.1 In Agnès Varda’s Cléo de 5 à 7, and Jacques Demy’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, the war is thus revealed as an issue that is closer to the French public than it initially appears, and perceived as having widereaching and highly destructive social repercussions.

However, the absence of reference to the war makes the issue more prominent. Varda carefully positions the two allusions to Algeria in the two separate halves of Cléo, to reflect how the ‘public’ treatment of the war was neither the real depiction of the horrors of the war, nor was it the real view of the war held by the French. Cléo is split in two to represent the two sides of Cléo herself. The first half depicts her ‘public’ image as a singer, and reveals her through what other people think of her (she is either an ‘idiote’ or a ‘poupée’). However, the second half reveals Cléo for what she truly - that is to say, privately - is, as we discover her real name and she begins to make decisions for herself. The ‘public’ view of Algeria, as broadcast by the news, thus occurs in the first section; but the placing of the ‘private’ conversation in the second

As in contemporary French society, there is a deliberate absence of dialogue relating to Algeria in either film, in accordance with the strict censorship rules surrounding the war, which lead to ‘des restrictions importantes’ to ‘la liberté de représentations visuelles.’2 Thus, as Valerie Orpen states, in Cléo we ‘infer certain facts and events’ that are actually ‘not shown’ in the film, ‘including the Algerian war.’3 Algeria is only mentioned on two occasions: first as a brief headline on the taxi driver’s radio, and later in a conversation that Cléo overhears 1 Jo McCormack, ‘Memory and Exile: Contemporary France and the Algerian War (19541962)’, in Paul Allatson and Jo McCormack (eds) Exile Cultures, Misplaced Identities, (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008), pp.117-138, p118 2 Benjamin Stora, Histoire de la guerre d’Algérie (1954-1962), (Paris: La Découverte, 2001), p27 3 Valerie Orpen, Cléo de 5 à 7, (London: I B Tauris, 2007), p23

4 Rebecca Pulju, ‘Cléo de 5 à 7’, Fiction and Film for French Historians Volume 2 Issue 2, <>, accessed 23 October 2014. 5 William B Cohen, ‘Review: The Algerian War and French Memory’ in Contemporary European History, Volume 9 No. 3 (2000), pp. 489500, p490 36

Les Parapluies was set and shot in Cherbourg, which, although initially connoting small-town life, also draws attention to arrival and departure, especially in the context of Guy and Algeria, being a port town. In contrast, Cléo is set in Paris, which felt some of the repercussions of Algeria, as it became commonplace to see the bodies of dead Algerians floating down the Seine.8 Moreover, as Puliju adds, the choice of a ‘bubbling prosperous’ Paris ‘juxtaposes prosperity’ with the ‘tragedy in Algeria,9 in the same way that the security of Cherbourg contrasts to the horrors of war. Still, there are even deeper meanings, as Paris for Varda ‘meant anxiety.’10 Thus, the French settings in both films actually draw attention to how war can affect all social backgrounds.


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The war is represented through displacement of characters from their society. Characters singled out by war become themselves isolated from society. The conflict, according to Austin, was often left to occupy ‘an off screen space,’ with ‘only its impact on French veterans’ shown on screen.11 Cléo and Les Parapluies are no exceptions. Guy, the only person to be affected by war, begins Les Parapluies in the hubbub of work, surrounded by friends and Geneviève. Upon his return, he has only Madeleine. His entire demeanour and attitude change: he becomes rude and loses his job, his boss stating how it is ‘Algérie’ that has changed him. The height of this change is marked by his limp, which represents the physical impediment and scars caused by war. But it is not only Guy that has changed, as Austin highlights: for him, Demy presents ‘a rejected veteran out of place in a changed town.’12 Here, we see the context of ‘Les Trente Glorieuses’ and the rapid increase in commercialisation in France during the period. According to Kristen Ross, the length of time that transpires between Guy’s departure and return is measured ‘not by some representation of the hardships of war (unseen in the film),’ but rather

half reveals that Algeria is seen in a different light by the French public. In the café, it is referred to as those ‘stupides événements d’Algérie’, a far cry from the euphemisms, such as ‘les événements d’Algérie’ or ‘le mantien de l’ordre,’ that were used by the French government.6 Thus, Varda is demonstrating to us how war is an issue that often divides the truth, especially in the case of Algeria. Similarly, in Les Parapluies, the only time we see and hear of Algeria is through private correspondences: Guy’s letter to Geneviève, and his account of an attack on his garrison to Tante Élise. The letter has clearly, like the news in Cléo, been censored, as no details of his life are given, but music is used later to illustrate the true horrors of uncensored war. Whilst talking about the war, Guy is accompanied by rather jazzy and jovial music, a contrast to what has been used so far. This upbeat music is played against something quite traumatic, but its jagged notes make it quite ominous, especially as it draws attention to particular words (‘attentat’). The contrast of dialogue and music illustrate that all is not well. Thus, as in Cléo, we see that although war is presented as absent, especially from the public eye, the real image always prevails through the private. The form and space of Les Parapluies and Cléo give it a sense of spatial absence. This manifests itself, as Benjamin Stora states, in an ‘absence of physical locations’ in French cinema, as ‘almost every film’ about the Algerian war ‘is shot elsewhere’7. Instead, 6 McCormack, p118 7 Benjamin Stora, qtd in Guy Austin, ’"Seeing and listening from the site of trauma": The 37

Algerian War in Contemporary French Cinema’ in Yale French Studies, No. 115 (2009), pp. 115-125, p115 8 Tyler E. Stovall, France since the Second World War (Harlow : Longman, 2002) p58 9 Pulju 10 Alison Smith, Agnès Varda (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989) p61 11 Guy Austin, ‘"Seeing and listening from the site of trauma": The Algerian War in Contemporary French Cinema’, Yale French Studies, No. 115 (2009), pp. 115-125, p116 12 Austin, p117

by the ‘transformation, seen through the dismayed eyes of the returning soldier’, of the ‘quaint umbrella boutique’ into a ‘cold looking store’ selling kitchen appliances.13 Society has clearly developed and moved on without Guy, who has been isolated and left behind by war.

is there; Cléo’s preoccupation throughout the film is how she cannot see it and how something ‘si belle’ can be dying. Thus Varda encourages us to wonder if the conflict in Algeria is a cancer on French society, which it is polluting and slowly killing all the time, despite the calm and beautiful exterior maintained by the government. This image becomes further aligned with Algeria when Antoine states that today, when he must leave for Algeria, ‘le soleil quitte les Gémeaux pour entrer dans le Cancer’.

In contrast, Cléo becomes less isolated in finding companionship with Antoine and Algeria. Cléo begins the film isolated. Shots often show her symbolically walking against the flow of pedestrians on the sidewalk. She is a celebrity, and therefore, above normal society, but she also lacks normal relationships, as the only person truly close to her is the domineering Angèle. The only person Cléo becomes close to is Antoine, the Algerian solider, to whom alone she reveals her true name. By this point Cléo is in nature, no longer surrounded by mirrors, illustrating her move from self-absorption to engagement with others and her surroundings, culminating in engagement with a soldier. At the hospital, Antoine pretends to be her brother, signaling solidarity. This ‘conjoining’ of Cléo and Antoine to Mark Betz can be seen as a ‘less conventional national coupling’ of ‘France and Algeria.’14 The film consequently shows that in their isolation, these two characters have found solace alone with one another, and encourages France and Algeria to also do so with its incomplete ending, where the fates of Cléo and Antoine, who will soon be without one another, are uncertain. The film ends with the pair staring directly at the camera, and hereby at the audience, to highlight this point to them. Consequently, war is alienated, and alienating in its turn.

Demy, as with the cancer motif, focuses on a representation that is polluted by the war in his use of colour and mise en scène. The bright and happy colours on the walls and umbrellas slowly become drearier as the war becomes more and more prominent in the plot. The bright blues Guy wears at the start become hidden by his dreary brown coat upon his departure and return. As he walks through the rain on his return, there are no bright umbrellas surrounding him, and the rain no longer shines on the pavement, instead draining the colour from the screen. Thus, the horror of war is strong enough to drain colour from Cherbourg itself. Colour is an element also used by Varda in her representation of death. Cléo, unlike the cast of Les Parapluies, only wears white or black, because Varda, when imagining Cléo ‘en danger’, sees ‘la menace’ as ‘blanche comme serait la mort’, having read that ‘en Orient la couleur du deuil est blanche’15. In their respective films, Varda and Demy present war as it is presented in French society: something distant and absent from France. The subject of Algeria is distanced from the narrative and from visual sight, with both films set in France itself. However, the juxtapositions of setting and the public and private allusions reveal that behind the facade held up by the French government is a deadly conflict, illustrated further by the metaphors of disease and colour. Moreover, the two films, in depicting the transformation of the characters and of their societies, reveal that the war has very far reaching and very personal social repercussions on France. Therefore, Demy and Varda aim to show that no matter how the French media present it, this conflict is not absent or aloof from French society.

As well as absent, war itself is unsurprisingly presented by Varda and Demy as something deadly, not only to those fighting the war, but also to the civilians and society left behind. Through the motif of Cléo herself, Varda aims to demonstrate the social and moral pollution caused by war. The film centres on the results of a biopsy that Cléo awaits which will reveal if she has cancer. The motif of cancer is a strong one in representing the Algerian War, as it reminds us that the outside of our bodies do not always reveal the truth of our state. We cannot tell if the cancer 13 Kristen Ross, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1996) p98 14 Mark Betz, Beyond the Subtitle: Remapping European Art Cinema (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), p.140 38


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Austin, Guy, ’”Seeing and listening from the site of trauma”: The Algerian War in Contemporary French Cinema’, Yale French Studies, No. 115 (2009), pp. 115125 Betz, Mark, Beyond the Subtitle: Remapping European Art Cinema (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2009) Cohen, William B., ‘Review: The Algerian War and French Memory’ in Contemporary European History, Volume 9 No. 3 (2000), pp. 489-500 McCormack, Jo, ‘Memory and Exile: Contemporary France and the Algerian War (1954-1962)’, in Paul Allatson and Jo McCormack (eds) Exile Cultures, Misplaced Identities, (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008), pp.117-138 Michaud, Yves, La Guerre d’Algérie (1954-1962) (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2004) Orpen, Valerie, Cléo de 5 à 7, (London: I B Tauris, 2007) Pulju, Rebecca, ‘Cléo de 5 à 7’ on Fiction and Film for French Historians Volume 2 Issue 2, < fffh/classics/1033/>, accessed 23 October 2014 Ross, Kristen, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1996) Smith, Alison, Agnès Varda, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989) Stora, Benjamin, Histoire de la guerre d’Algérie (19541962), (Paris: La Découverte, 2001) Stora, Benjamin, ‘The Battle of Algiers, Censorship and the ‘Memory Wars’, Interventions Volume 9 Issue 3 (2007) Stovall, Tyler E., France since the Second World War (Harlow: Longman, 2002)


Cléo de 5 à 7 (Agnès Varda, 1961) Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)


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SOCIAL SCIENCES For the first published essay in our brand new Social Sciences section, we were looking for something that was courageous enough to tackle the omnipresence of society, yet delicate enough to critique its nuances. This particular work stood out not only for these reasons, but for its carefully considered examination of something so audacious that, by its nature, it appears to defy intricacy: today’s hypersexual culture. Touching on race, gender, and sexuality, the essay is bold in its handling of the porn industry and how this feeds into our culture, focusing in particular on its relationships with female musicians. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. SUBJECT EDITOR Eavie Burnett and Friederike Ach

Should we see popular culture as a site of resistance rather than as a form of manipulation by elites? as well as a locus of moral judgments,” suggests written by Alice Rendell Langman (2008: 658). The bodily behaviours of the


self – or those exercised on others – as a result of, or engagement with, popular culture should then be assessed for evidence of manipulation and resistance.

opular culture is captivated by female bodies and sexuality. They represent the fundamental paradox of this Western heteropatriarchal society’s wants of women; they should be multitudinal dichotomies of sexual expression and repression. Popular culture offers an arena for bodily expression and definition, female or otherwise, self or otherwise. “The more a woman takes off her clothes, the more power she has” insists Paglia (1995: 53), but as contemporary [supposed or legitimate] liberating behaviours themselves are ever-more commodified, “in order to produce profits as well as to sustain hegemony and reproduce social arrangements” (Langman 2008: 674), the binary of resistant and manipulated behaviour is compounding. “Hey, I can be the answer” asserts Azealia Banks, in 2011 single “212”, and the relationship of female music artists and pornography, both in and as popular culture, refines the question of such a binary amalgamation.

The medieval carnival had such bodily expression as its roots, while it was a critique of social hierarchies and elite domination: a time and place of resistance (Langman 2008: 661). Langman constructs a trinitydefinition of “the carnival”, to which contemporary practices also accord, as grotesque, ludic and ultimately dirty (2008: 662). Grotesque to be taken, here, as a celebration of what is considered ugly, ludic as “a time for play” and dirty as constituting a territory where commonplace constraints are slackened, most notably those of the erotic and for women in specific (2008: 662): “Dionysian moments of bodily frenzy [celebrating] a sexuality free of Apollonian repression” (2008: 665). The body “carnivalized” articulates “the anger and discontent of a commodified, capitalist political economy” (Langman 2008: 663) as hedonistic indulgence in the face of moralistic political repression; what is perceived, and praised, to be resistive.

The interactivity of popular culture and societal hegemony and manipulation is inevitable, for the fact that “popular culture is both conformist and transgressive in nature,” alleges Duncum (2009: 233). Paradoxically, popular culture offers space to both reinforce dominant social values, those of the elites of any and every society, and for resistance to, “and even subversion of”, the social order (Duncum 2009: 233). Western society is hierarchically structured, laden with the hegemony of white, heterosexual masculinity; a patriarchy at its core. Resistive popular culture, then, is populated with its dichotomic partners: non-white, non-hetero, nonmale gender identities. Policed and turbulent. The non-white, non-het and/or non-male body can thus be “understood as the site of domination or agency concerning its appearance, displays and actions

Champions of pornography assert that the industry “challenges norms over the body and its sexuality and inverts standards of morality” (Langman 2008: 668). Among such favourable critics are “pro-sex feminists.” The debut of the pornography industry and the second-wave Feminist reaction invited a tension between “feminists who emphasized the need to protect women from sexual objectification and those who emphasized the importance of women’s sexual liberation” (Butler 2013: 28). Pro-sex Feminism aligns itself with the liberation milieu, alleging that “pornography has a number of positive, personal and political benefits for women” (Langman 2008: 41

668). The contention was – and is – “that if a woman says she wants to be used, exploited or objectified, then sexual exploitation, which is inevitable for women under patriarchy, can feel like it is under the woman’s control and so doesn’t hurt her” (Whisnant and Mantilla 2007: 58), though, obviously, with a less critical undertone.

challenge and invert: through the valuation of bodies as objectified, marketable and tradable “goods.” On the influence of pornography on mainstream ideologies about the – female – body, Langman notes that “the shaved pubis (and Britney Spears recently displayed hers to the world) has become more and more popular” (2008: 672). In this expression Langman evidences that the implicit compliance of women in the production of pornographic culture, that so-say nullifies any claim of harm, is frequently absent. The “displaying” by Britney Spears, in November of 2009, to which is referred, was in actuality a printed paparazzi “up-skirt” photograph; it was non-consensual, thus it should be considered sexual assault. This equating of such acts of sexual assault to those of liberation, of resistance against moralistic elite oppression, unsettles the pro-sex Feminist position. When there is no active choice, the action cannot be transgressive. Britney Spears suffered the hegemonic domination of Western heteropatriarchal society, and yet Langman supposes her “action” challenged it.

Langman advocates pornography for its “examples of the diverse ways people can find erotic pleasure, and indeed, especially so for women, who not only live in a patriarchal culture that subordinates women, but who – […] feminists […] suggest – if they have erotic relationships with men, are traitors to their gender” (2008: 669). This allegation can and should be contested. Firstly, the claim of diversity in the depictions of adult performers “finding erotic pleasure” can be called into question, for the fact “teen”, “amateur” and “anal” alone, for example, feature in the top 10 most commonly searched terms on pornography sites over the last month worldwide and by country (PORNMD 2015). In reality, sought pornographic material is not so optimistically diverse. Secondly, the blatant – ignorant – origin of the latter opinion is the misguided notion that Feminists are “man-hating lesbians” who believe straight women to be traitors to their gender, for their sexual and/or romantic relations with men. Langman then invites the reader to “consider the most typical way people [have intercourse] is the missionary position, in which by definition the man is on top. Pornography often presents a number of alternatives, many of which give the woman the advantage” (2008: 669-670). The “advantage” being given to women that Langman speaks of is vitally absent from PORNMD’s live feed of searches on pornography websites, where the rhetoric being used to pursue, almost exclusively, female subjects of pornographic media is derogatory at best.1 Such advantage tastes bitter. A pre-emptive response to such a reading seems later given by Langman, through quotation of Kipnis: “the world of pornography is mythological and hyperbolic, peopled by fictional characters. It doesn’t and never will exist” (Langman 2008: 669). But, plainly, this is not the case. There is no vacuum of production; porn actresses and actors literally enact everything that they are filmed and/or photographed doing. This is how the pornographic media content is made. The othering of said performers – by the preaching of their vacuum-existence – makes their commodification inevitable. Thus, it endorses the very moralist, Capitalist society they claim to 1

It can be argued that the so-say carnivalized [female] body in pornographic culture and media is actually a manipulated one. As aforementioned, the influence of the aesthetics of pornography, supposed carnivalesque resistance against the commodification of style and the massification of taste (Langman 2008: 665), only underline the hegemonic subjugation of women under patriarchy: be hairless, childlike, passive, controllable. “Porn culture”, argued popular culture, is fundamentally paradoxical in its demands of the female body. Western heteropatriarchal society stipulates both control and sexual availability and this is ever-more evident in the music industry. The pornification of music videos sees “the representations of women […] in parallel with the increasingly intense and violent fare shown in actual pornography” (Levande 2008: 300). Levande furthers inquiry of the consequence of pornography on female representation in music videos to one that pointedly studies self-objectification of female artists. The hegemonic domination of women by men, through the representation of female [bodies] in male artists’ music videos, is undisputed: misogyny on a basic level. It is through the representation of women in female artists’ music videos – that of themselves and other women – that general and academic discourse becomes conflicted.

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a play for equality that is ultimately a dupe (2008: 305). Levande’s stand is firm: female music artists that express “masculine” hypersexuality can and do only fortify the male hegemony of both the music industry and Western society. This is an attitude present, too, in critique of more contemporary artists, see: Nicki Minaj. Kavanagh situates Minaj in the “hyper-masculine” world of rap, where female artists “run the risk of disempowering themselves” (2014: 134).2 This caution, Kavanagh offers, as “the messages [female rappers] claim to portray of female empowerment and strength are often contradicted by their own objectification and exploitation of females within their songs and lyrics” (2014: 117). Minaj, and female artists like her, are held for “the reproduction of a hegemonic paradigm that continues to treat women as sexual objects” (Kavanagh 2014: 134). Minaj’s 2012 single “Stupid Hoe” – its music video and lyrics – are accused of embodying such a reproduction. When Minaj raps “Ice my wrists and I piss on bitches / You can suck my diznik if you take this jizzes” the connotation is a male one. The nature of the expression of her sexuality in such lyrics parallels that of her male contemporaries; it is undeniably degrading. Kavanagh asserts that Minaj seeks to uphold “her dominance by controlling and dominating women, she wants to be viewed as ‘the queen bitch’, whom every other woman should feel inferior to” (2013: 135). While rapping “like a man”, the “Stupid Hoe” video is an explicit performance of female hypersexuality, with Minaj “dressed in sexualised outfits and dancing with her back to the camera with an emphasis on her posterior” (Kavanagh 2013: 136). As Butler notes, “[Minaj’s] erotic lyrics and hypersexual performances are often in line with mainstream assumptions about women of colour” (2013: 53); they seem no challenge to the Western white [male] hegemony.

Levande cultivates an argument that critiques “the use of feminist rhetoric with sexual commodification” (2008: 299), proposing that “Feminism has been hijacked […] to sell behaviours and attitudes about sexuality itself” (2008: 301), and by extension that said “hijackers” are the female music artists themselves. This claim revives the “sex wars” of second-wave Feminism and the “dichotomization of sex as either oppressive or liberating,” for women (Butler 2013: 40). Levande alleges that “the equation of […] pornographic imagery with power,” and the overt expression of sexuality, by female music artists is a myth (2008: 301). This myth of empowerment through pornified female sexual representation, a mimicking of the male manner of such representation, is ironically echoed in the 2010 debut single of British singer-songwriter Jessie J: “Do it like a dude.” As, for Levande, the only means for a female artist to obtain power in the popular music industry is to objectify herself and women alike, in the way of the many men around her. Christina Aguilera is taken by Levande as an exemplar, female, popular music [culture] offender of “[tricking] the viewer into believing that placing one’s body on display is a feminist rite of passage” (2008: 305). Such allegation cites the music video for Aguilera’s 2002 single “Dirrty”, featuring the artist in a boxing ring, “caged in by thousands of eyes watching her […] [suggesting] a performance of sexuality rather than authentic sexual expression (Levande 2008: 305). The aggression of Aguilera in the video, Levande equates to a “masculinization”,

However, the negotiation of Minaj’s gender, sexuality and ethnicity within her male-dominated domain and society is more sophisticated. Though, an understanding of this requires an understanding of Minaj as a woman of colour and her “engagement with respectability politics” (Durham, Cooper and Morris 2013: 725). Moody asserts that mass media “institutionalize white and male supremacist ideologies, which produce specific […] representations of race that support and maintain the 2

The problematic choice of the word “disempower” shall be later discussed.


oppression, exploitation and overall domination of all black people” (2011: 46). And so, that Kavanagh would advise Nicki Minaj, and other female artists [of colour], that they “run the risk of disempowering themselves” (2014: 134) is ignorant of the reality of the currently, devastatingly, un-empowered woman of colour. This is not to say lack-of-power; rather, supressing-of. The undertones of such a system of representation bracket the existence in and of itself: of Minaj in her industry, as resistive, and of the hegemonic oppression she faces as a woman of colour. But Minaj does not merely exist, she thrives.

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Minaj’s articulation of her gender and ethnicity amalgamates in, as Kavanagh notes, the selfformed identity of “The Jezebel”, “a loose, sexually aggressive woman […] the Jezebel wants and accepts sexual activity in any form” (2014: 139). Arguably, in this action Minaj subverts the oppressive, racist dichotomy of the hypersexualised black woman and the asexual white woman, born of The Slave Trade era (DeMello 2014: 262 & 264). For the fact Kavanagh illuminates such an example of the sophistication of Minaj’s negotiation and expression of resistance to white hegemony, the assertion that “the use of the n-word [by Minaj] could be suggested as another form of self-objectification, exploitation or even a form of self-loathing” (2014: 139) is sour. That Kavanagh believes such re-claiming of a racial slur “to reinforce patriarchal hegemony in a capitalist society” (2014: 140) is – put kindly – naïve. Kavanagh continues along a further frustrating vein, with the claim “authentic masculinity is so deeply entrenched within the genre of rap that female rappers have to emulate masculine behaviours and language to be taken seriously” (2014: 140): a reflection of the opinions of Levande, aforesaid. And a judgement that is untrue.

video she can be seen to be standing in a pose that is a quotation of a work of photographer Jean-Paul Goude, Grace Jones, Revised and Updated. Goude came to general media attention in 2014 for his work with Kim Kardashian, in Paper Magazine, “Break the Internet.”3 Where Goude’s hypersexualized representation of a black female body, in Grace Jones, Revised and Updated, is basic, racist femalesexual objectification, Minaj’s “self-objectification” is an engaged commentary on her industry and her society’s valuing of her own body. Further, she carnivalizes. The “Stupid Hoe” video is arguably the precursor to 2014 single “Anaconda”, where Minaj reaches her height of controversy, to date. The two videos are celebrations and glorifications of the grotesque, ludic and dirty (Langman 2008: 662). In “Stupid Hoe”, Minaj animalizes herself, literally morphing her face with that of a leopard; she puts herself in both animal print and a cage. She contorts her body to the extent of its breaking from identification as wholly human; rather, she becomes object. She undeniably objectifies. But at the same time, as she animalizes, she flashes video of her semi-clothed body with those of her animalesque face, teeth-bared. It is aggressive, monstrous hypersexual expression. She ultimately

The judgement that that female artists [of rap and pop] “have to emulate masculine behaviours and language to be taken seriously” (Kavanagh 2014: 140) is the result of the perception that (1) overt, confident expression of sexuality, through language and/or behaviour, is necessarily masculine. And (2) “the message of female upliftment and empowerment becomes effaced by female self-exploitation and hyper-objectification” (Kavanagh 2014: 140). The hypersexualized, hyper-feminine, self-presentation of Minaj in her videos, which Levande and Kavanagh perceive to be self-objectification and thus necessarily a surrendering of power, is powerful. In one of the first scenes of Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe”

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parodies the iconography of her industry and thence pornography’s occupation inside of it: her popular culture is a site of resistance. “Anaconda” takes the treatment of female bodies, by male artists, in music videos and carnivalizes, to parody and undermine. Minaj reclaims the male-gaze-produced “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot, in 1992, which is sampled in the single, and subverts the heteropatriarchallyinformed value of the female body as that which pleases and pleasures men. Levande would find fault with Minaj’s exploitation of the male gaze, for “ultimately, under this line of thinking, it is the very act of being watched that makes a woman powerful” (2008: 303). But, in “Anaconda”, Minaj’s power comes not from being watched, but from the open invitation and control of the gaze upon her. Unlike “Stupid Hoe”, where Minaj presents, all at once, herself as masculine and feminine, hypersexual and doll-like, vulnerable and hard (Butler 2014: 36), in “Anaconda” she is embodied pornified female sexuality, and it is powerful.


BUTLER, Jess (2013) ‘For White Girls Only?: Postfeminism and the Politics of Inclusion’, Feminist Formations, 25 (1), pp. 35-58. Christina Aguilera - Dirrty ft. Redman (2011) video. CAguileraVEVO, 11 April, viewed 23 March 2015, < watch?v=4Rg3sAb8Id8>. DeMELLO, Margo. (2014) Body Studies: An Introduction. New York: Routledge. DURHAM, Aisha, COOPER, Brittney and MORRIS, Susana (2013) ‘The Stage Hip-Hop Feminism Built: A New Directions Essay’, Signs, 38 (3), pp. 721-737. DUNCUM, Paul (2009) ‘Toward a Playful Pedagogy: Popular Culture and the Pleasures of Transgression’, Studies in Art Education, 50 (3), pp. 232-244. KAVANAGH, Sindy. (2014) ‘A-Gendered Rap: An Analysis Of Gender, Sexuality And Ethnicity In Rap Music’. Popscript: Graduate Research In Popular Music Studies. Simone Kruger and Ron Moy. Raleigh: Lulu Press Inc., 117-146.

The confused nature of representations of female bodies and female sexuality in popular culture, whether or not it is defiant or obedient, is succinctly distilled in the ambivalent parity of pornography and female music artists, namely Nicki Minaj. Nicki Minaj’s pornification of female sexuality and sexual bodies is subversive; her commentary is alert and refined. And so, the argued interchangeable representation of women in pornography and in the music – lyrics and videos – of Minaj both convolute and reiterate the question of whether the represented hypersexualized, pornified, female body in popular culture is resistant or manipulative? The, if embarrassed, ease of the embrace of pornographic “popular culture” compared to the often unashamed critical hostility Nicki Minaj, and other female artists, endure; that is the indication of “which” popular culture is resistant.

LANGMAN, Lauren (2008) ‘Punk, Porn and Resistance: Carnivalization and the Body in Popular Culture’, Current Sociology, 56 (4), pp. 657–677. LEVANDE, Meredith (2008) ‘Women, Pop Music, and Pornography’, Meridians, 8 (1), PP.293-321. PORNMD (2015) Straight Live Searches. [Online]. [Accessed 22 March 2015]. Available from: <http://>. PORNMD (2015) Global Top Searches. [Online]. [Accessed 22 March 2015]. Available from: <http:// >. MOODY, Mia (2011) ‘A rhetorical analysis of the meaning of the “independent woman” in the lyrics and videos of male and female rappers’, American Communication Journal, 13 (1), pp. 43-58. Nicki Minaj – Stupid Hoe (Explicit) (2012) video. NickiMinajAtVEVO, 20 January, viewed 23 March 2015, < watch?v=T6j4f8cHBIM>. Nicki 45





NickiMinajAtVEVO, 19 August, viewed 23 March 2015, < watch?v=LDZX4ooRsWs>. WHISNANT, Rebecca and MANTILLA, Karla (2007) ‘Pornography and Pop Culture: Backlash And a Feminism that is Contrary to Feminism’, Off Our Backs, 37 (1), pp. 58-61.


JENSEN, Robert and MANTILLA, Karla (2007) ‘Pornography and Pop Culture: Real Men, Real Choices’, Off Our Backs, 37 (1), pp. 62-63.



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JOHNSON, Richard (2007) ‘Post-hegemony?: I Don’t Think So’, Theory, Culture & Society, 24 (3), pp. 95-110. NAMASTE, Ki (1994) ‘The Politics of Inside/Out: Queer Theory, Poststructuralism, and a Sociological Approach to Sexuality’, Sociological Theory, 12 (2), pp. 220-231. OSTENDORF, Berndt (2001) ‘Why Is American Popular Culture so Popular? A View from Europe’, Amerikastudien / American Studies, 46 (3), pp. 339366.

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THEOLOGY AND RELIGION Selecting the Theology article to print is always challenging due to the vast diversity of the submissions we receive. We felt that a debate over the question of whether religion really is gradually disappearing from contemporary British life would be most alluring, of which I hope you too will agree. SUBJECT EDITOR Emma Stanworth

Is Religion Gradually Disappearing from Contemporary British Life? Religion in Contemporary Life

written by Rich Swan


Davies notes how, ‘Religion […] is a social construction, built from below as individuals struggle to come to terms with the vicissitudes of human existence’.3 It is this building from below that has enabled institutional forms of religion to become so entwined with our social structure; the church has always been there; its role within community still on-going, yet largely unseen, presiding, for many, over our births, marriages and deaths. This is a major part religion has come to play in our culture, where it provides historical continuity and social cohesion.4 But are these institutional expressions of religion within contemporary life, useful to us in our ‘struggle to come to terms with human existence’? Davie suggests that, ‘[…] these (constructions) protect the individual […] from the possibility that life has neither meaning or purpose’.5 So while ‘religion can operate vicariously in a wide variety of ways: churches and church leaders perform(ing) rituals on behalf of others’,6 there exists, implicit within this arrangement, our tacit, unquestioning acceptance of Christian teaching; of its ‘claim to the ultimate explanation of the human condition’.7 So if this is how we define religion we come upon a problem: this type of vicarious representation takes the responsibility for spiritual development away from the individual, someone is doing it for us, we just turn up and in exchange for believing in the propositions on offer, get salvation. So what happens if our struggle to understand our existence takes us beyond what the church, or our religious institutions, are capable of explaining? For this reason I would argue that religious and spiritual can mean different things.

n assessing this proposition, and for the purposes of this essay, I will be making two assumptions. Firstly, that the term ‘religion’ as it appears in the title, refers to the Abrahamic based faiths, (primarily Christianity, and also Judaism and Islam), this being due to the long standing historic and formative influence Christianity has had on British culture. Secondly, (for reasons I will return to below), I will assume a distinction between religion and spirituality and argue why I believe there is such a distinction. I will firstly offer a definition of religion and look at its influence in contemporary life. Then I will argue why ‘religious’ can be different from ‘spiritual’. Next I will look at some of the available methods for measuring religious activity, and consider some problems inherent in those methods. Finally I will discuss possible reasons for changing attitudes, and whether religion is really declining.

Defining Religion

The word ‘religion’ usually refers to a particular system of faith or act of worship.1 Yet religions also influence how we define ourselves, both individually, and culturally as a nation. Historically, by religion in Britain we have been talking about Christianity; for centuries Britain has aligned itself with Christianity, therefore culturally we are Christian. Christianity has been enshrined within the development of our society; its influence can be seen in our institutions of law, governance and education, as well as our social structures. Parish boundaries, although largely unseen, still define our landscapes and Christian symbolism and architecture pervade our towns and cities.2 So religion can describe how we worship, what we believe, or just how we live.


1 2

OED (Oxford: OUP 1976). Davie, 'Religion in Europe in the 21st Century: The Factors to Take in Account', European Journal of Sociology, 47, 2 (2006), p273


Grace Davie, The Sociology of Religion: A Critical Agenda (London: Sage, 2013), p53 4 Davie, Religion in Europe, p278 5 Davie, Sociology, p.53. 6 Davie, Religion in Europe, p278 7 Davie, Sociology, p53

Religion or Spirituality?

Indicators of Religion in Society

As a starting point one could argue that the words, religious and spiritual, are interchangeable and have approximately the same meaning, and that one is free to call themselves spiritual if they follow a religion. Yet one could also argue that a person following no religion, with no affiliation to any religious creed or dogma, who yet seeks to experience, through contemplation or meditation, a deeper awareness, or expansion of consciousness, is indeed, a spiritual person. It also follows that many people following, or claiming to belong to, a particular religion, may have no desire to understand the nature of reality or the interaction between awareness, consciousness and mind; that for many simply belonging to a religion is enough. For many there is no desire or need to see other religions as equally valid, or to question and understand one’s own motives for subscribing to a particular belief system, or religion.

A tool that has been employed to measure religion in this country is the census. The inclusion of questions, regarding religious belief and practice, in recent censuses provides a general indicator of religious activity, which, according to the government website, is basically as follows. In the 2011 census, Christianity was the largest religious group in England and Wales with 33.2 million people identifying with the religion, a decrease of 4.1 million from 2001 (from 72% to 59% of the usual resident population). Muslims made up the second largest religious group with 2.7 million people, an increase of 1.2 million (from 3% to 5% of the population). The number of people who reported that they did not have a religion reached 14.1 million people, an increase of 6.4 million (from 15% to 25% of the population).8 It is hard to form an exact picture of what is happening from these figures alone. For example, while Christianity would appear to be in decline, the number of Muslims has increased by some 40%. So many interpretations can be made based on this data. According to a March 2011 Younger Poll, when asked ‘what is your religion?’, 53% claimed to be Christian and 39% claimed to have no religion. When asked in the same census, ‘are you religious?’ 29% answered yes and 65% answered no. By this reckoning 31% of respondents belong to a religion but are not religious, and 26% are not religious but belong to a religion. Furthermore, of the 53% who claim to be Christian, only 48%, or less than half, claim to believe in Jesus. Clearly this data is inconclusive. 9

So here we can begin to see a possible difference in the usage of words; for whilst it is possible to be a spiritual person with no interest in religion, it is also equally possible to be religious person and yet have no real interest in spiritual development, (or indeed personal development); trusting instead in the truth claims of the chosen religious belief system and making no effort to verify those claims for oneself. So for the purposes of this essay I will employ these terms with this in mind.

A possible reason for this apparent confusion is that the term ‘Christian’ is often used as a cultural identity rather than a religious marker. One commentator suggested that, ‘Christian is a synonym for “British” and hence a cultural rather than religious self -ascription’.10 There is a limit to what we can 8

Office for National Statistics, ‘What does the Census tell us about religion in 2011?’ http://www. (accessed 21 Oct 2014) 9 British Humanist Association, ‘Religion and Belief, Census Results 2011’ uk/campaigns/religion-and-belief-some-surveys-andstatistics/census-2011-results/ (accessed 21 Oct 2014) 10 Mathew Guest, Elizabeth Olson and John Wolffe, ‘Christianity: Loss of Monopoly’, in Linda Woodhead and Rebecca Catto (eds.), Religion and Change in Modern Britain (London and New York: Routledge, 2012), p66

‘Religion’ responses in the 2011 UK Census 48

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ascertain from such simply framed questions, yet even allowing for the perception that belonging to a religion suggests cultural identity rather than religious belief, I would argue that both are different from spiritual practice. If by religion in Britain we actually mean Christianity and the intricate way it has become interwoven in our society, then there is evidence to support the decline, falling church attendance and the disappearance of Sunday schools being two examples.11 Yet this does not necessarily equate to a demise in spirituality. It is equally likely that as some people begin to question the truth claims of traditional forms of religion, they disassociate with those institutions and seek fulfilment elsewhere. Looked at in this regard, an apparent decline in Christianity could be seen to indicate an evolving attitude to spirituality that traditional expressions of religion no longer satisfies.

Davie seems to agree when she says, ‘modern societies are destructive of certain forms of religious life […] for example […] the unquestioning acceptance of Christian teaching’.14 The rise of individualism in a post modern world, and the questioning of the plausibility of traditional religious teaching, could all be contributing to a shifting religious landscape; but does that mean spirituality is declining also?

What is Declining, Religion or Spirituality?

While the 2011 census data shows some evidence of decline in some areas of traditional religion, such as the numbers claiming to be religious, other research shows an increase in what could be termed spiritual matters. For example, despite a fall in the number of people claiming to be religious, there is an increase in the number of young people who have confidence that there is something after death. Davie reports that amongst the young, ‘the tendency to believe in an afterlife is increasing rather than decreasing’. 15 I would argue that the decline in numbers claiming to be religious is linked to traditional religions inability to satisfactorily inform on these, and other spiritual matters; that there are now, in the public sphere, other spiritual alternatives to which people can turn, either to complement the religion they were born into, or to replace it entirely. One such example is Buddhism. With its emphasis on meditative self - effort and contemplation of our human condition, it provides an interesting counter point to the traditional ‘vicarious’ approach that Christianity has adopted towards spiritual life.

Possible Reasons for Changing Attitudes

The development of our society has been intrinsically linked to the development of our religious institutions; the two have gone hand in hand. In this way, religion can be seen as a social construction, (as noted earlier), which has grown and evolved with our society, providing social cohesion and identity. This function of religion has continued until the present day in much the same way, and is perhaps why Christianity for many, is as much a cultural marker as it is a religious ethos. Yet as our understanding of the world we live in has grown, so the truth claims of religion have come to be questioned. Davie asks, ‘how do the “meaning systems” set in place over centuries maintain their plausibility?’ What happens when plausibility is undermined’?12 Perhaps it is the questioning of religious plausibility that is leading to the apparent decline in traditional religious expression.

Diana St. Ruth in her BBC article on Buddhism in the UK noted that according to the 2001 census there were 151,816 Buddhists in the UK; but she notes, ‘that does not take into account those who regard themselves as Buddhists as well as Christians, […] The census form made no provision for such people to be counted’; she then adds,‘ There are also people who were only ever nominally […] Christians […], but felt as though they were embarking upon a spiritual path for the first time on taking up Buddhism.’ 16 This would support the premise that religion and spirituality are not the same thing, a position strengthened further when we consider that

The sociologist writer, Steve Bruce, makes a connection between modernity, (modern life), and the demise of traditional forms of religious life. He suggests the reason for the demise of traditional religion is linked to the Reformation, which paved the way for individualism and rationality. He states, ‘rationality removed many of the purposes of religion and rendered many of its beliefs implausible’.13

14 15 16

Davie, Sociology, p60 Davie, Religion, p276-7 Diana St. Ruth, ‘History of Buddhism in Britain’, BBC Religions 2005, religion/religions/buddhism/history/britishbuddhism_1. shtml (accessed 7 Nov 2014)

11 Guest et al, Christianity: Loss of Monopoly, p63 12 Davie, Sociology, p53 13 Steve Bruce, Religion in the modern World, (Oxford: OUP 2006) p230 49

Buddhism at its core, is Nontheistic, that is to say, it doesn’t promote the idea of a separate entity called god. The Guardian newspaper recently published a list of meditation and retreat centres as part of its series on wellness. Of the fourteen centres they featured, 50% stated some affiliation with a traditional Buddhist or Zen tradition, while others made a specific point of claiming to be ‘Buddhist but non religious’.17 Today we have access to many religious and spiritual ideas that our predecessors never knew existed; so if, when it comes to claims to the ultimate truth of human existence, Christian theology no longer satisfies, there are other viable alternatives available. The institutional expressions of religion that have become a part of our cultural heritage will probably endure, but as people continue to search for meaning in an increasingly complex world, some will turn their backs on these traditional forms of religion, as already suggested by some readings of the census data. Yet people do not necessarily turn their back on spirituality just because the religion they were born into, their ‘cultural marker’, no longer satisfies their spiritual needs, hence the need to distinguish between religion and spirituality.

17 Meditation Centres Around The UK, Life and Style, The Guardian, 22 Jan 2011, http://www. (accessed 6/11/2014)


COULD YOU BE WHAT WEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;RE LOOKING FOR? Join our EDITORIAL TEAM for the 2016/17 committee. Available Roles:

Editor-in-Chief Editorial Assistants Graphic Designer Focus Feature Managing Editor Ancient History & Classics Editor English & Film Editor International Relations Editor Law Editor Middle Eastern Studies Editor Modern Languages Editor Social Sciences Editor Theology Editor Submissions Readers Check the details and how to apply at: 51


he idea for an essay competition on the theme ‘X is the most powerful tool with which to change the world’ has been present since the very foundation of The Undergraduate Journal. It has been a pleasure to bring it to life and to read every one of the competition entries and we are grateful to everyone who submitted. The essay published here was one of three shortlisted by the entire Undergraduate committee and then chosen by our selection panel, consisting of our founders Cherrie Kwok and Cameron Ho and the English and Film department’s own Dr Lisa Stead. We would like to express our thanks to them for being involved. This essay was chosen because it is focused, clear, creative, sensible and positive. We hope you enjoy it!

Competition Winner: ‘Vision is the most important tool with which to change the world’

highly beneficial trend is fundamentally underpinned by the foresight and ideas of world-wide state leaders. Indeed, it was the vision and co-operation of state leaders that helped address this problem, and catalysed the signing of the Marrakesh Agreement in 1955 wherein the regulatory and conducive measures of the World Trade Organization were implemented. Since then, very few have looked back, and the insight from influential leaders has proved indispensable in the improvement of millions of lives around the world.

written by Thomas Smith


t was once said by the Dalai Lama that “In order to carry a positive action, we must develop here a positive vision”. This adage is telling: to instigate any developments in life, effective vision and foresight are indeed the essential catalysts for change. Vision, however, goes beyond the ability to see events going round you- it is the capacity to look into the future, conceptualize an idea and turn those very ideas dreams - into reality. Tools needed to create change in our world are many: education, resources, money and co-operation all fundamental factors contributory in transforming our globe, though it is the power of a shared, common vision that underpins everything needed to initiate change within this world.

Continuing attempts to eliminate world conflict and establish peace, an almost insurmountable task given the perpetual state of world ‘anarchy’, further exemplifies the power of ideas in our world. The creation of NATO, the UN and EU and have helped transcend international barriers, helping resolve conflict and provide aid whilst simultaneously facilitating the creation of a far greater interconnected and globalized world. It was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s early visualizations of the 1940s, abetted by fellow state leaders, of a peaceful, more communicative world that has led to the creation of a mass organization, rescuing millions from conflict within the past century.

History is a lens through which the origins of past developments can viewed. Through the myriad of wars, revolutions and creations, a common trend can be discerned- all vital conceptions and changes stem from one vision. One of innumerable examples is the ending of apartheid in South Africa; it was the insight and ideas of Nelson Mandela that allowed a seed of hope to grow into full-force change. Through his idealizations, policies that abolished the segregation of peoples within South Africa were created, and mere hopes became reality.

Within all significant developments of the past, a successful vision has been the necessary catalyst. The conception of an idea or dream, no matter what its size, is the vital ingredient for change in the world. As history pertinently reveals, small seeds of vision will so often blossom into wide scale creations, conducive to transforming our world.

Proponents of ‘changing the world’ are often branded by sceptics as naïve; their optimistic proclamations declared as trite. Vision, however, will abet the development of factors necessary to instigate change. One such example is the gradual alleviation of poverty within the world, wherein the past twenty years have heralded a 20% decrease in global levels of poverty.1 Current progress and continuity of this

If you would like to hear this and the other shortlisted essays, come along to the The Undergraduate Live! Special Edition in March, where they will be presented alongside other special guest speakers.

1 Max Roser (2016) – ‘World Poverty’. Published online at from: http://ourworldindata. org/data/growth-and-distribution-of-prosperity/world-poverty/ [Online Resource]


Focus Feature

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Managing Editor: Flora Carr Contributors: Daniel Kibsgaard,

Ribka Zerihun, Helena Gadsby, Helena Bennett, Emma Stanworth, Jack West-Sherring and Davide Scarpignato.

Is It Our Duty to Help Refugees? 53


The 2015 Refugee Crisis in Context

he refugee crisis that unfolded over the summer has become highly politicized in Europe, as factions disagree over how to handle the inflow. Many EU countries have been hesitant or openly hostile to the crisis in response to rising popularity of the far right, which is driving a wedge through EU cohesion. Germany has accepted more asylum seekers than anyone, but faces mounting domestic challenges to cope with the influx. Attempts towards a solution have resulted in insufficient quota agreements and questionable negotiations with Turkey. With the pressure of a mounting death toll, the pressing dilemma between “securing the bloc’s borders” and “protecting the rights of migrants and refugees” (Park, 2015), EU leaders will have to come to an agreement on their common duty to the task at hand.

The far right has made its hostility clear with over 375 attacks on refugee homes since the beginning of this year (Smale, 2015). On the other hand, the crisis has led to shows of sympathy, with, for example, retired teachers giving German lessons and physicians treating refugees for free. The issue has divided society; with both an “unprecedented” civic engagement as well as widespread concern over what this influx will mean for German society (Sauerbrey, 2015). Recent polls indicate that Merkel’s approval ratings have decreased slightly revealing an increasing discomfort with her policy (Smale, 2015). The views of the German public on the migrant crisis will be decisive for Merkel’s political future and consequently for the future of the refugees. These fears have pushed Merkel to reach an agreement on a quota system that will redistribute 120,000 refugees throughout the EU (excluding Britain, Ireland and Denmark), although how effective this will be remains to be seen (The Editorial Board, 2015). Additionally, the Economist states that the EU wants Turkey to improve living conditions for its 1.7 million refugees, through access to the labour market and places in schools. Furthermore, the plan requires Turkey to boost its border controls and tighten visa restrictions. In return, Turkish President Erdogan is asking for 3 billion Euros in aid as well as for visa-free travel for Turks in the EU’s Schengen zone. There have even been promises to “re-energise” Turkey’s bid to EU accession. This marks a sharp shift from recent EU policy which has largely criticized Turkey’s war against the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), human rights violations and press censorship. Meanwhile, Erdogan will use these promises to gain a majority in parliament in the November elections for his Justice and Development (AK) party in order to reform the constitution.

One subtle but nonetheless unsettling consequence of the migrant problem facing Europe is a reviving of previously dormant or sidelined right-wing sentiments. This has been made most clear in the ascent of nationalist parties, seen in Hungary and Switzerland, compounded with fear-mongering rhetoric foreseeing “a clash of cultures that threatens to undo Europe” (Karnitschnig, 2015). Critical commentators have noted how a fundamentally humanitarian crisis has been reconstructed into an invasion of ‘Christian Europe’ to reignite existing fears around immigration and extremism, to serve political interests (Saltman, 2015). At odds with the capable and open-minded self-image Europe has upheld is the surge of xenophobic reactions that have precipitated from parliaments and angry mobs alike (Cowell, 2015). The current refugee crisis has inadvertently given rise to an identity complex in a number of European nations, whole peoples asking themselves what impact multiculturalism is going to have on their respective societies – a question especially pertinent to some like Slovenia and Hungary, almost completely homogenous ethnically and religiously (Holehouse, 2015). The future prospects for peaceful integration relies on how efficiently leaders at EU level delegate responsibilities and distribute resources for the delicate project of not just appropriately welcoming refugees but accustoming the entire population to a new reality.

Europe’s handling of the crisis has admittedly not been without its shortcomings. Whilst the process has been wrought with indecision and therefore inaction, a tragic human cost has been rising. With no viable short-term solutions to the war in Syria and the seeming inability of EU leaders to be “capable of implementing lasting asylum and immigration reforms” (Park, 2015), the crisis is looking to become increasingly volatile. It will likewise be interesting to observe whether, in spite of the very real challenges being posed, opportunities may also transpire over time from the arrival of a largely young and skilled migrant demographic.

Crucial to the migrant crisis is Germany, which has of late emerged as the political and economic leader of Europe and has been accepting 40% (Erlanger and Smale, 2015) of all asylum seekers in the EU. Although German finance minister Sigmar Gabriel has stated that Germany is capable of taking in 500,000 refugees every year for a “few years” (Smith and Tran, 2015), domestic resistance to this open door policy may change this view. Bavarian state premier, Horst Seehofer has argued that Germany and Europe face a “grandiose failure” if the number of refugees isn’t limited (Delcker and Karnitschnig, 2015).

Written by Daniel Kibsgaard and Ribka Zerihun



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Should We Help the Refugees?

very big part of questioning if we help ‘refugees’ can be seen in the very important question of whether or not we are legally obliged to help. For England and Wales, refugee law can be found in many different places, the most important of which are the European Covenant on Human Rights (ECHR) and international refugee law.

concerned. It is important to note that should reasonable protection be available in the home country, it will be difficult for an individual to claim refugee status.

Finally, it must be determined if the fear of persecution is based on a good reason. There are five different grounds for fearing persecution offered in the refugee definition; race, religion, nationality, membership of a part of a social group or political opinion. Many of the grounds do, in fact, overlap, so the applicant can have more than one reason, but they must prove that there is a well-founded fear of persecution because of one of these reasons. No causal ground will result in it being impossible for a successful claim in refugee status.

International legal protection of refugees is based on a person meeting the criteria for refugee status as laid down in the 1951 Refugee Convention. Under Article 1(A)2, the term “refugee” shall apply to any person who: “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a part of a social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”

Once a person is said to be a refugee, an obligation exists under Article 33 of the 1951 Refugee Convention not to return a refugee to a country of territory where he/she would be at risk of persecution:

The first thing that must therefore be examined is whether the individual fleeing a country is technically a refugee. A person cannot be a refugee under international law until they satisfy the criteria given above; the term ‘asylum seekers’ refers to persons who have applied for asylum, but whose refugee status has not yet been determined. Until a person has been accepted as a refugee in a country, they should not be classified as such.

“No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” This is known as the principle of non-refoulement, which is considered part of customary international law and is therefore binding on all states. It is the most basic element of international protection and the most important guarantee of safety for refugees. Should a person be accepted to be a refugee under this definition found in Article 1(A)2, there is an obligation on the country to accept them and offer the protection.

According to the provision under the 1951 Convention, refugees are defined by three basic characteristics: • they are outside their country of origin or outside the country of their former habitual residence; • they are unable or unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country owing to a wellfounded fear of being persecuted; and • the persecution feared is based on at least one of five grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

An individual can receive further protection from the English government with the implementation of the ECHR into domestic law in 1999. The most developed non-refoulement jurisprudence of the ECHR is in relation to Article 3: prohibition of torture. The basis of this is that no-one shall be subjected to torture or to inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. The treatment feared must be in pursuant of Article 3 and there have to be substantial grounds to believe that the individual will be exposed to that harm if they are returned. Should an individual fall within the conditions set out in the ECHR, England would be infringing that person’s human rights by denying them protection.

The first enquiry is whether the individual is outside of their country of origin. This is key as a person must be outside their country of origin to be a refugee. If they are still within their country, an individual will be an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) and not a refugee. There is no exception to this rule: international protection cannot operate while a person is within the territorial jurisdiction of their home country. Second in the enquiry of refugee status is whether the individual is unable to receive protection in their home country due to a well-founded fear of persecution. Persecution can be broadly accepted to mean the threat to the life or freedom of a person. If an individual is unable to avail oneself of protection, it implies that the circumstances are beyond the will of the person

Written by Helena Gadsby

LAW 55

Middle Eastern Studies


ince the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Jordan and Turkey have received among the highest numbers of refugees – an estimated 628,175 and 2,072,290 respectively (UNHCR, October 2015).

incomers. The government have established separate refugee camps for Kurds and Arabs, and, on the whole, religious divisions have also been preserved (Ferris and Kirişci, pp 6). Given the ethno-religious dimensions of the Syrian civil war, the carrying over of such divisions into Turkey causes serious concern, especially given pre-existing internal tensions. Similar problems may be surfacing in Jordan, where the change in demographics has left Jordanians feeling threatened. So far, Palestinians have mainly only felt the repercussions of this, with “double refugees” (those in Syria due to Israeli persecution before the civil war) refused entry to the country (Sharqieh). This could well be symptomatic of growing resentment towards refugees; perhaps inevitable given the pressure the Syrian conflict has put on its neighbours over the last four years.

Contrary to what might be expected, both Jordan and Turkey have experienced economic growth since accepting Syrians, with Jordan’s growth rates reaching nearly 4% since 2013 (Karasapan). This is attributed to refugees’ entrepreneurship, for example in establishing trade between southern Turkey and northern Syria (Ferris and Kirişci 36). There is, however, an extent to which some have no choice but to work, as charitable donations reduce and World Food Program provisions are cut (Coffman Wittes). As well as the potential for exploitation of oftenundocumented refugees, their presence may push down wages, sparking resentment among citizens of the host countries (Karasapan). Despite the benefits to local economies, perhaps the most significant impact of the refugee crisis on Syria’s neighbours has been social and political, affecting both individual communities and national discourses. In Turkey, particular concerns have surrounded the ethnic and religious make-up of

Written by Helena Bennett


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Theology & Religion

Classics & Ancient History



hile international law sets out clear legal duties, ethics encompasses our strong moral duties to help those fleeing the bombing and violence in Syria. Both locally and nationally, the Church has supported offering practical aid to refugees by gathering supplies, and spiritual aid through thoughts and prayers (Kirchgaessner 2015). The World Council of Churches has been unanimous in its reaction to the refugee crisis that devastated parts of Southern Europe this summer. In response to the thousands of refugees arriving daily in Hungary, the local Evangelical Lutheran Church advised citizens to “open your hearts and doors” (Kästner 2015). The theological justification for our obligation to help the refugees arises from more than a respect for human rights, political allegiance or legal requirement, but out of genuine human compassion for other human beings, all being created equally before God (Galatians 3:28; Qur’an 3:195). Civility towards strangers is a reoccurring theme in many world religions. It would be challenging to persist with a line of theology that states we have no duty to help those in need, despite the xenophobic views that some fundamentalist religious extremists might purport. The explicit biblical and traditional Christian imperatives coalesce with the best of humanitarian ethics to state that we have a profound duty to help.

he ancient Greek attitude towards refugees was closely linked to Xenia (‘guest-friendship’), a ritualised bond of trust involving affection and obligations between two individuals from separate social units. Xenoi make their first appearance in the Homeric poems (Il. 6. 224–5); guest-friendship was of paramount importance to the hero abroad, who found in a xenos; a kinsmen, a protector, a representative, and an ally. These networks of personal alliances continued to exist throughout the emergence of the polis (8th-7th cents. BC) and the Classical age. The lasting impact of Xenia upon the Greek civic system is most evident in the creation of proxenia, a bond of trust between a polis – the common societal structure – and a prominent individual outside it. States usually selected their own proxenoi in other states and bestowed honours and privileges upon them in return for their services. As a result of the Xenia concept, independent Greek city-states (poleis) often saw it as their ethical duty to take on refugees. Aeschylus’ Suppliant Women, a play dating to the 460s BC and performed for the Athenian citizenry, espouses the message that victims of injustice or cruelty should expect asylum from those more powerful than themselves. Reminiscent though this is of modern human rights ideals, Aeschylus’ powerful vision is unfortunately no more than that.

However, within theology there is also a need to consider the requisite for understanding the religious element of the conflict, rather than simply representing the religious standpoint. Statistics showing a decline in UK church attendance reveal that most people define religion as a cultural activity, intimately tied up with a socio-historical sense of Britishness (Brierleyconsultancy 2015). Part of the struggle over whether we should accept foreign refugees relates to an inherent offense to a Middle Eastern, Muslim demographic that is regrettably ingrained in British society. Few are actually reluctant to share our resources with refugees, but many maintain this suspicion of the religious ‘other’. If the Syrian refugees were white or Christian, would the British response to the crisis be different? It is crucial not to overlook the religious aspect of the crisis both at home and abroad.

We know from Isocrates’ Panathenaicus what pride the Athenians took in providing refuge to the Plataeans, driven from their homes by the Spartans in the Peloponnesian War. Yet the Plataeans were their long-standing allies, with shared political systems and interests. Non-Greeks and even nondemocrats were classed as ‘metics’, denied citizen status and treated with cool suspicion, despite comprising the workforce for major construction projects such as the Parthenon, regarded today as an icon of civilisation and human achievement. Then as now, widely-held ethics don’t always reflect political reality, and a society that welcomes migrant labour while fomenting inequality and division appears eerily familiar…

Written by Emma Stanworth

Written by Jack West-Sherring and Davide



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The Undergraduate Volume 3, Issue 1  

The fifth issue of the University of Exeter's leading independent, interdisciplinary academic journal. Featuring essays written by students...

The Undergraduate Volume 3, Issue 1  

The fifth issue of the University of Exeter's leading independent, interdisciplinary academic journal. Featuring essays written by students...