ationalism is a peculiar phenomenon. It can take many forms: a repugnant, oozing, belching leviathan, intent on defending purity and tradition; a battle cry of hope and unity for a people trodden on; an orange, wigged bigot with an itchy Twitter-finger and a wall fetish. Some will say that it is in our nature – human nature – to group together into a single entity, unified under a flag; that it is a primal urge, thundering in the pit of our very being with pointed teeth and sharpened claws. It seeks leadership and justice; it asks for parades and anthems; it demands walls and weapons. This is perhaps nationalism at its most malignant. A nationalism which tries to eliminate difference to found a homogenised state and denies humanity to defend the mythologised nation. But there are two sides to every coin. Nationalism can give hope and meaning to the oppressed and a vision to the rebel. From Palestine to Greece, Kashmir to Armenia and every decolonised state between. Nationalism has given persecuted peoples the opportunity to throw off their oppressors and craft their own destiny, something the people of New Caledonia, Oromia and Cabinda are still fighting for.
In our previous issue, we discussed what it means to struggle for freedom. In this issue, we present to you a discussion of a phenomenon at the core of many global struggles. But a phenomenon that can grow toxic if not maintained. So whose wisdom will begin our issue on nationalism: the melancholic howls of Chomsky, Orwell and Einstein? Or perhaps the vicious snarls of Trump, Powell and Le Pen? As is so often the case, Mark Twain perhaps says it best.
“Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.” Shatter the chains, hammer the walls and, from all of us at The Warwick Globalist, join our conversation.
Thank you and enjoy, Finn Halligan, Perspectives Co-Editor
We would like to thank all those who made this issue possible by contributing to our crowdfunder. Special thanks to: Thaddee Chantry-Gellens Ajay Chandra Olivia Goldin Andrew Weisz Bogdan Padalko
COPYRIGHT © 2017
THE WARWICK GLOBALIST
The Team Editorial Team Tom Harrison Managing Editor Ali Griggs Themes Editor Helene Selam Kleih & Stephen Paul Arts & Culture Editors Vardaan Aggarwal Politics & Economics Editor
Halimah Manan & Finn Halligan Perspectives Editors Joe Marsh Rossney Science & Technology Editor Connor Woodman World of Warwick Editor
Business Team Jonah Weisz Head of Marketing Daljinder Johal & Marium Rafiq Heads of Social Media Egon Dâ€™Argento & Jonas Eberhardt Heads of Finance
Laura Harrison & Ed Stevenette Events Coordinators Audrey Sim Secretary
Technical Team Samara Jundi Graphic Designer Bala Kumar Head of Web Strategy
Amine Messaoui Technical Specialist
THE WARWICK GLOBALIST @WARWICKGLOB
Themes: Faces of Nationalism 06
Feminism and Nationalism
The Alt-Right: How the Internet Changed Modern Politics
Politics & Economics 10 On Polish Resistance: Challenging the State and Winning 12 No False Alarm: The Emergence of Fake News and the Threat It Poses for Democracy 14 Humanitarian Intervention: The New Imperialism?
image Edgar Fabiano, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license
image flickr | Grzegorz
Arts & Culture 16 Cartoonist Competition 18 Human Identity in ‘The Human Document’
Science & Technology
22 Black Swans: What Does It Mean to Be Sceptical of Scientific Facts?
28 Hear the Pussies Roar
24 A Tiny Breakthrough in Pharmacology
image Karl Ragnar Gjertsen, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license
26 Science Smothered by Flags: A Lesson From the Past
image flickr | nicohogg
20 Being Black and British: BBC’s NW adaptation reviewed
30 Another Kind of Othering
FEMINISM AND NATIONALISM
Molly Russell explores a seemingly incompatible relationship: effective feminism during the rise of nationalism. Nationalism and the enforcement of borflourish effectively and inclusively, it must of 2016, render a transnational feminist ders – be it by racist legislation preventing dismantle the borders of nations but first approach necessary yet make it more difaccess and cultural mix, or the physical begin by deconstructing and opening its ficult to establish. building of walls – is defining the conown borders. The success of nationalism temporary political climate. The rise of is the rhetoric of exclusivity, of closing The right wing ideologies attached to napopulist right wing ideologies, epitomised borders and privileging the insiders. The tionalism limit global gender solidarity by the triumph of Trump, is propelling failure of (white) feminism stems from and feminist activism, and instead set out the reality of nation-states to the visible this same sentiment and allows for the to adhere to essentialist hegemony. The ground level rather than simply its bugrowth of nationalism, thus a transnation- feminism of the first and third world are reaucratic functions. The aggressive force al intersectional feminist approach sepa- becoming increasingly disparate. A series of nationalist sentiments is currently disrate from the state is required. of successful Women’s Marches recently mantling global immigrant narratives “The aggressive force of nationalist occurred around the globe to protest and bulldozing all hope of safety, inthe damaging policy and rhetoric of tegration and even entry. Nationalism sentiments is currently dismantling the Trump administration as a threat works alongside many populist right global immigrant narratives and to women’s rights. It is hopeful to see wing forces such as anti-immigrant bulldozing all hope of safety, inte- a resurrection of feminist discourse and anti-welfare state rhetoric, and into action such as this, with unprecgration and even entry.” flourishes particularly in capitalist paedented numbers taking to the streets. triarchal societies. At times like the presThe acceleration of economic globalisa- However, it remains important to subent, in which the rights of immigrants, tion and the rapid flows of people, cul- merge the concerns into an intersectionwomen and the poor are squeezed, it is ture and information have intensified the al and inclusive framework and protest more important than ever to analyse the importance of dismantling nation-state against the state, not just focusing on the racist, imperialist and misogynist strucperspectives and developing transnation- grievances on white privileged women. In tures which nationalism implements al understandings of contemporary issues the words of Audre Lorde, “I am not free and covers up. In light of this, it should to bridge the gap between worldwide ine- while any woman is unfree, even when her be interrogated how incompatible these qualities. It may be assumed that, in the- shackles are very different from my own”. hidden structures behind nationalism ory, globalisation and societal advanceare with feminist discourses and actions. ments such as improved communications It is precisely by understanding the differand other modern technology facilitate ence of these shackles that we can create Gender and nation are intrinsically linked a transnational feminist discourse more an effective feminism for all. A vital factor in that they are both cultural and social easily than ever before, and therefore al- at odds with the rhetoric of nationalism, constructions. These terms hold idenlow the formation of communities with a yet integrated into its power structure tities, which are compounded with the propinquity. and often abandoned by western white state, and have historically produced feminism, is that of race. The climate of normative categories. From this, conHowever, the current populist nationalist nationalism disseminates the binary of structs are transformed into binary relarhetoric, which goes hand in hand with race as ‘white’ and ‘non-whites’, breeding tionships which reduce gender to ‘male’ neoliberal discourse of individualism, intolerance and discrimination. It is necand ‘female’, sexuality to ‘heterosexual’ thwarts the establishment of a transna- essary to historicise and critique the past and ‘homosexual’ and race to ‘white’ and tional feminist solidarity between women to avoid and condemn replications of old ‘non-white’. These representations work in the first and third word. Divisive times colonial patterns, so as to understand the with the state to become part of the dissuch as these, and the image of impene- double bind endured by immigrants who course of a nation of members defined as trable borders and lone islands, created are both women and outsiders because of ‘insiders’ or ‘outsiders’. For feminism to by the nationalist Brexit and Trump votes their race; categories of hindrance under 6 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
Faces of Nationalism
image | Julie Saumagne
the ideology of nationalism. We must also view the Western nation-states globally. For example, Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy played heavily on the tagline ‘I’m With Her’ expecting female voters to flock to polling booths. However, the Clinton ‘brand’ was not with women of colour, or with immigrant women, or with the women killed by her votes in favour of war overseas. A transnational feminist solidarity must instead work on the principle that ‘She’s With Us’, a meaningful top down approach, not empty deceptive representation based on the commonality of the nationalist binary of ‘female’.
“In an age of fervent nationalism, ultimately at odds with an intersectional feminism, it is important to remember that differences shouldn’t divide, borders should be open and theory must transform into praxis..” A key ideology and component under the cloak of nationalism which thwarts transnational feminist solidarity is that of capitalism. Globalisation and the dissemination of the doctrine of the free market has exacerbated economic and social inequalities and has thus had far reaching implications which present both possibilities and limits for cross border feminist communication and resistance. Through the capitalist model of production, women as producers and consumers in the first and third world are connected and dependant on each other in a complex relationship based on the international division of labour and gendered neoliberal domination. Despite this direct reliance on each other, provoking a suggestion of a commonality of situation, feminist professor Maria Mies reveals the true purpose of this partnership as she describes it as
“not only a contradictory relationship, but also one in which the two actors on each side of the globe do not know anything of each other”. This highlights that the functioning purpose of a nationalist, capitalist society is to seek to create a vast distance between participants in the system and a conscious separation of nation-states in order to block the possibility of creating commonalities. Feminist scholar, Charlotte H. Bruner, propounds that “without overthrowing the economic system of capitalism [...] we cannot liberate women and everybody else who is oppressed”. The same can be said for nationalism, which - like capitalism, neoliberalism and patriarchy - can function economically, politically, socially and culturally and thus all go hand in hand. Simply take the President of the United States, Donald Trump, a capitalist businessman ruling a nation and signing legislation based on the private interests of the top 1%. In this climate, transgressing borders and cultural contexts to form moral
solidarities is increasingly thwarted by the dominant economic ideologies dictating foreign relations. It is imperative to move away from the dominant essentialist hierarchical cores of nationalism and feminism, and instead create intersectional discourses which will forge and maintain meaningful feminist solidarities transnationally. Feminists must be active in fighting nationalism and its hidden structures, and propel the movement from banal, performative acts of display to deeper informed actions which can transcend borders. In an age of fervent nationalism, ultimately at odds with an intersectional feminism, it is important to remember that differences shouldn’t divide, borders should be open and theory must transform into praxis. Molly Russell is a third year French and English Literature student, currently studying abroad at the Université Paris-Sorbonne IV.
image | Julie Saumagne Warwick Globalist | Spring 2017 | 7
THE ALT-RIGHT: HOW THE INTERNET CHANGED MODERN POLITICS Ayaz Ali explores how the alt-right in some ways grew from and was strengthened by the internet, which has become a powerful tool in modern politics.
What’s distinct about the alt-right, perhaps more-so than in any major political ideologues prior, is how slippery it is. In fact, to claim it as a truly cohesive ideology is almost dishonest to the true nature of it. Its roots lie in the darker corners of the internet, on image boards like the infamous 4chan and the similar 8chan, before making its way to more popular and palatable platforms like Reddit. In fact, the alt-right exists almost exclusively online – while they rally against the establishment – they aren’t like the protestors in movements like Black Lives Matter, or Occupy, and they express disdain to those who are. If anything, they’re closer in manner to Anonymous, as a shadowy, undefined organisation who do much of their biggest work from behind a screen. It’s also one of the only prominent far-right political collections which has been able to speak to and build itself upon a user base almost 8 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
entirely of young, internet savvy voters. The closest thing they have to a legitimate public front is Breitbart News, which has acted as a platform upon which many of the more prominent alt-right figures have been able to express their views. One of these figures is the incendiary and controversial Milo Yiannopolous, who recently made headlines when his planned speech at UC Berkeley was cancelled after the latest in a series of mass student protests against his speeches descended into violence. Yiannopolous is a figure who in many ways exemplifies the alt-right, not just in politics, but in modus operandi he has made his name as an internet troll, finding himself permanently banned from Twitter follow-ing his orchestrated harassment of actress Leslie Jones, in a manner not dissimilar from the cyber-attacks 4Chan users often perform for the sake of their own enjoyment. He has a flippancy about him, a swagger suggesting he’s above the people he infuriates with his radical (anti-feminist, anti-Islamic, anti-PC) views - and by his own admission, this is what has drawn the alt-right to him. For Breitbart in 2016, Yiannopolous cowrote the closest thing the alt-right have to a manifesto, entitled ‘An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right’.
image flickr | LeWeb14
The term “Alt-right” was first coined by Richard Spencer, a notable, vocal white supremacist, who recently made the news for being assaulted on live television. He used the term to refer to a group that he aligned himself with: a loose collective of far-right individuals who were rejecting main-stream conservatism in favour of even more heavily nationalistic, traditionalist policies than the Republican Party are capable of providing. He coined the term in 2010, when the movement was in its embryonic stages, and in the years since it has grown and morphed into an almost unavoid-able spectre across the face of modern Western politics. With the increased publicity of many alt-right figures, agreement over the true definition of the term is scarce, and accusations of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Nazism are consistently thrown at its members, often met with relentless debate. As a movement, their views are not only aggressively nationalist, but also in vocal opposition to modern liberal tenets like multiculturalism and political correctness. In this light, it’s unsurprising that their support acted as a huge contributing factor in the election of Donald Trump.
In this, he characterises members of the alt-right as intelligent, attention-seeking, inflammatory pranksters, the same types of people from 4chan who’d target large companies like Apple or YouTube, now turning their focus towards undermining social and political institutions they see as pointless or corrupt. When viewed in this manner, the alt-right seems like a natural result of the kind of culture that 4chan (particularly it’s “random” board and its “politics” board) and 8chan encourage. They are open to anyone and encourage anonymity and free speech to the highest degree possible, with no limits upon the posting of violent, sexual, or racist content. Over the years they have become an integral part of internet culture, and the freedom of expression they offer has bred creative and influential communities, as well as extreme racially or sexually prejudiced ones, full of people who in theory cannot be held accountable or silenced in their views. There’s a vein of irony and dark humour that permeates 4chan and internet culture as a whole, encouraged by the lack of rules or regulations, leading to memes and injokes which spread across the internet. The politically extreme side of 4chan is no different in this respect, saturated with
Faces of Nationalism
This vein of irony and impishness that runs through the alt-right community online helps to undermine the seriousness of what they stand for, but also adds a layer of insidiousness. Their com-edy expressed through memes is enticing, ubiquitous, and often indistinguishable from the con-tent that is usually posted to these websites, and consciously or not, serves as a way to attract young potential voters who feel disillusioned by politics and would perhaps otherwise not engage. It also functions as a way their members can avoid accountability for some of the more extreme things they say, hiding behind the guise of a cheeky joke that some people just can’t take. The instantaneous output and feedback offered by the internet gives it a unique power as a prop-aganda machine, capable of reaching more people in a shorter time than ever before. The extent of the alt-right’s engagement with internet culture is easiest seen on Reddit - as of February 2017, Trump’s subreddit has a colossal 360,000 members compared to just 32,000 on Hilary’s. The Trump subreddit has become one of the most active, despite Reddit
being a website traditionally associated with young, left wing voters more likely to support the likes of Bernie Sanders. Yet this seemed only to further spur on the Trump supporters on Reddit, who would often co-ordinate attempts to get pictures of Trump to the top of the front page and thus make their posts the first thing millions of users would see, in acts of protest. In some ways, the pro-Trump communities online modelled themselves in much the same way as he did during the election: as underdogs aiming to win in the face of the huge power held by their opposition. Something that only serves to amplify their dedication to him is the way in which political language has become intensely emotive. Much has been made of our current “post-truth” politics, wherein facts are distorted to fit political agendas, and untruths are repeated despite evidence
opposition were encouraged regardless of their authenticity. For example, the now debunked ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy theory (which alleged the existence of an underground pedophile ring involving John Podesta, chairman for Hilary Clinton’s election campaign), was one started by 4chan users before eventually making its way onto Reddit. Here, /r/The_Donald users eventually created the subreddit /r/ pizzagate to further develop the theory, before it was banned in late November 2016 for witch-hunts and doxxing (the pro-cess of sharing someone’s personal information across the web). What makes /r/The_Donald disturbing is evident in events like these – as an extreme far-right online community (perhaps even further right than Trump himself), it’s still the only hub for pro-Trump discussion on Reddit, the 7th most visited site in the US. This means that even those who only mildly prefer Trump over the alternative are likely to have their views twisted and hardened if they wish to discuss them online. image flickr | Gage Skidmore
memes which poke fun at and belittle those who they see as inferior. Perhaps the most notorious is the word “cuck”, a contraction of “cuckold”, popularly used across all of 4chan, but now wholly co-opted by the alt-right movement to refer to those seen as weak or in opposition to their ideals. Another well publicised example is Pepe the Frog, an initially innocent meme using a picture of a frog, which grew extremely popular across the internet, before being taken over by the alt-right - as Richard Spencer said shortly before his assault, “it’s become kind of a symbol” for them to rally round. In one of Hilary Clinton’s first speeches lambasting the alt-right, a 4chan user, at the behest of his fellows online, can be heard shouting “Pepe” partway through. Through memes and a popular internet presence, the alt-right has spread its member base far beyond the range of most populist movements, and far quicker. The Reddit subreddit ‘/r/The_ Donald’, a hub for Donald Trump support-ers, is filled with the same memes, having consistently been filled with Pepe and “cuck” since its inception in June 2015.
against them. A cursory glance at the online hubs of the alt-right shows a collective that embraces this. /r/The_Donald wields Trump’s words like gospel, regardless of their veracity. News stories which may disparage Trump are bombarded with accusations of “FAKE NEWS”, or are simply ignored entirely. Kellyanne Conway, Counsellor to the President, recently made headlines by referring to the fictional ‘Bowling Green Massacre’ while attempting to justify Trump’s recent immigration ban. When no evidence was found for the existence of the ‘massacre’, the Trump subreddit responded by claiming that Conway was simply manipulating the media in a game of “5d chess”, according to the most popular post on the situation, which garnered 5,775 ‘upvotes’. On the other side of the coin, news stories which disparaged Trump’s
Without the internet, it’s unlikely Donald Trump would currently be President of the United States. In the face of widespread media mockery, and the disapproval of almost the entire politi-cal establishment, Trump obviously spoke to a wide swathe of the electorate who felt disillu-sioned by the political elite. But much of them were those who engaged with each other through the filter of the internet. A collective of young, angry, intelligent voters, who took advantage of the internet and its reach as one of the most efficient means of protest available, and decided to throw themselves behind the only candidate who expressed a similar unpredictability, volatility, and resentment of the status quo as themselves. It’s doubtless that the internet has made a huge impact upon this election. The only question is, with online culture so subject to radical, frequent change, how will it affect the next one? Ayaz Ali is a PPE first year, who was drawn to investigating the alt-right due to their uniqueness and growing prominence.
Warwick Globalist | Spring 2017 | 9
image | Julia Ostendorf
Politics and Economics
ON POLISH RESISTANCE: CHALLENGING THE STATE AND WINNING Julia Ostendorf examines the widespread protests in Poland, analyzing the protestors’ victories and losses. “Poland’s Democracy is Failing” and “The Collapse of Polish Democracy” are headlines that come up when searching for current news about the Republic of Poland. Ever since the right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) came to power in October 2015, citizens have filled the streets to protest the government’s reforms. It might sound surprising that PiS were elected with the largest parliamentary majority since 1989 (when Poland held its first democratic elections). With 37.6 per cent of the vote, PiS were able to secure an unprecedented outright majority. The large protests that have taken place since then indicate much of that support has now been lost, but it is still likely that PiS would still win more votes than any other party, according to a poll that took place in December 2016. Polish historian Adam Zamoyski argues that PiS’s victory is not a shift to the right by the electorate, but rather a complete rejection of the previous government; the centrist neoliberal Civic Platform or PO (Platforma Obywatelska) and their former leader Donald Tusk, who went on to join the European Union as its President. Many voters were fed up with the elitism, institutionalism and Europhilia that PO represented; or as the Economist put it, PO “had acquired an aura of complacency and sleaze”. Despite PO’s failure, it would be foolish to ignore the other factors that attracted voters to PiS. In an interview with the German tabloid paper Bild, PiS Foreign 10 | Spring 2017| Warwick Globalist
Minister Witold Waszczykowski blamed the previous governments’ “left wing politics” (even though PO is far from leftwing) for causing Poland’s ills, which he now has to rid them of. He is referring to “A new mixture of cultures and races, a world made up of cyclists and vegetarians, who only use renewable energy and who battle all signs of religion”. PiS appeal with their blend of conservatism and paranoia, along with the provision of social incentives, such as a 12 zloty (approx. £2.40) minimum wage and high cash incentives for parents of children.
are on the path towards an “illiberal democracy”; overhauling the constitutional tribunal, restricting media freedom, controlling civil liberties and limiting the right to assemble and protest. The Council of Europe warned that PiS’s changes to the constitutional tribunal constitute a breach of human rights. PiS refused to swear in judges appointed by the previous government, calling the appointments unconstitutional, and replaced them with their own.
PiS also ruled that decisions made by the Both Polish people and outsiders are quick constitutional tribunal have to be based to point out the similarities between PiS’s on a two thirds majority, rather than the policies and those of the 1952-1989 So- previous simple majority. This blocks any cialist regime. On December 13th, 1981 attempts made by the opposition to dethe Socialist party declared martial law cide a ruling, since they will not be able to in Poland; 35 years later protesters held achieve this two-thirds majority. demonstrations against the incumbent PiS government. In addition to show- “Both Polish people and outing similarities in their attempts to ce- siders are quick to point out the ment power, both PiS and the Socialist similarities between PiS’s polregime revised history books. PiS’s at- icies and those of the 1952-1989 tempt to remove Lech Walesa, leader of Socialist regime.” the Trade Union Solidarnosc (the main force advocating for democracy in 1980s In addition to these restrictions, PiS also Socialist Poland) from history books re- announced that 12 out of 15 judges must sembles Socialist Poland’s erasure of his- be present for rulings to be valid, as optorical events that painted the Soviet-Pol- posed to the previous nine. Again, this ish relationship in a negative light. allows PiS to gain monopoly over constiPiS’s de facto ruler Jarosław Kaczynski tutional tribunal cases, giving them a free does not shy away from proclaiming his hand in law making. Protests have taken sympathy for Hungarian Prime Minister’s place across Poland to stop the reforms of Viktor Orban’s plan for an “illiberal de- the constitutional tribunal. As early as the mocracy”. Orban advocates taking over 12th of December 2015, 50,000 people of media, and the weakening of judicial marched against these reforms, waving checks and civil liberties in order to ce- Polish and EU flags. Some of them were ment the party’s power. As it stands, PiS even holding copies of the constitution.
Faces of Nationalism
On December 30, 2015, President Andrzej Duda signed a law allowing PiS to appoint “heads of government media, including of the television station TVP “to promote Polish traditions and patriotic values”. This permits PiS to set the agenda for publicly owned media but the party did not stop there. A currently proposed law would restrict journalists’ access to the parliament by tolerating only two reporters per publication and only five selected TV stations as well as banning them from entering the main building of the Polish Parliament, or Sejm. Polish Politicians responded to the PiS media ban by occupying the Sejm before Christmas. The occupation began on 16th December 2016, after Michal Szczerba, an opposition MP, carried a placard reading “free media” to the parliamentary podium and was subsequently excluded from further debates or votes by the PiS Marshal of the Sejm, Marek Kuchcinski.
MPs advocated for the ban and chose to back it in its early stages. Bishops of the Polish Catholic church also supported the ban, but later said they could not approve jailing women who had abortions. Polish women reacted with a “Black Monday” protest on October 3rd. Inspired by the standstill achieved by Icelandic women striking in October 1975, Polish women boycotted schools and workplaces to fill the streets. In addition, they chose black clothing as a sign of mourning against the abortion ban. The nationwide protest in over 60 Polish cities was attended by thousands of women; in Warsaw alone, 30,000 protesters assembled in the streets and it is estimated that 100,000 attended marches throughout Poland. After a nationwide protest, the government made a U-turn and 352 of the 400 MPs voted against the bill. On the 13th of December 2016, PiS passed a law restricting public meetings.
Soon, others joined Szczerba in chanting “free media” and “no censorship” which marked the first such protest in the Sejm since 1989. PiS responded by forcing all reporters to leave the building and voted on the 2017 budget from a side room, which opposition MPs called illegal. Opposition MPs demanded a re-run of the debate and vote on the 2017 budget and continued the sit in for three weeks, but halted the occupation on the 12th of January 2017. The occupation was met with solidarity from Polish citizens. On Saturday, 17th December, around 2,000 protesters gathered outside the presidential palace and marched towards the Sejm in support of the MPs’ occupation and to demand media freedom. Since then, PiS have retracted the media ban and the previous regulations for journalists are mostly in effect again. It is unclear whether the media ban will still be implemented after parliament reconvenes at the end of February, but the return to the previous regulations is a temporary win for the opposition.
The law gives priority to “periodic meetings” (demonstrations that take place at the same place and on the same date) over meetings that take place as a one off. Under the previous regulations, the demonstrators who sent their application first were given priority, regardless of the demonstration’s cause. Whilst amendments have now been made, the original draft proposed giving priority to any state or religious group when organising demonstrations. This would mean that if protesters announced a demonstration in a certain place at a certain time, the Church or State could prevent it by scheduling their own rally at the same place and time. Polish MEP Janusz Lewandowski in Strasbourg responded to the law by saying “Yesterday was a sad day for Poland because now there is a new law governing protests which limits the right of assembly.
In September 2016, PiS attempted to introduce a blanket ban on abortion. PiS’s aim was to make abortions punishable with a five-year prison sentence if the abortion was carried out for reasons other than the mother’s life being at risk. The ban was not initiated by PiS and representatives were given a free vote, as the law was brought forward by an anti-abortion citizen’s initiative that attracted some 450,000 signatures. Regardless, many PiS
The Polish public has conducted strikes, boycotts, occupations, street demonstrations, and social media campaigns to voice their dissent. Even on Christmas Eve, and despite freezing temperatures, activists gathered outside the Sejm for a now illegal protest, under the watchful eyes of the police. “You are not a true Pole if you do not come to protest tonight, during your Christmas Eve walk”, one campaigner proclaimed, standing next to a giant Christmas tree decorated with red and white colors. Not far from the tree, pro-
testers set up a recreation of a graveyard. A sign read “The graveyard of PiS: Values, which the current government has buried or is attempting to bury. We will not forget them”. The polystyrene gravestones read “R.I.P. Democratic Standards”, “R.IP. Privacy”, “R.I.P emergency contraception” or “R.I.P Freedom”. Less serious ones read, “R.I.P Unhampered bicycle rides” in response to the foreign minister’s remarks about cyclists. Perhaps ironically, the two largest tombstones read “R.I.P Law” and “R.I.P. Justice” mocking the PiS name. Stowarzyszenie Libertarianskie (Libertarian Association), whose goal is “the promotion of freedom, liberty and other libertarian values among people”, set up 15 tombstones in front of the parliament. Protesters also set up several tents and decorated them with banners. Whilst Poland’s future might look gloomy and many Poles are afraid that their country will turn into an autocracy under the PiS regime, protesters have reason for hope. The nationwide protest against the abortion ban caused the government to abandon the law. MPs’ occupation of the parliament in protest of the media restrictions achieved a temporary victory. However, many other protests including the ones right after PiS came to power have not achieved much.
“The Polish public has conducted strikes, boycotts, occupations, street demonstrations, and social media campaigns to voice dissent.” Poland has a strategically important position in Europe, connecting east and west. The recent arrival of US troops in western Poland, as part of a planned NATO operation in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, is an example of Poland’s ability to act as a buffer zone. Upcoming elections in France and Germany will decide whether PiS will gain allies or enemies, but either way democracy is entering testing times. Julia Ostendorf is a History and Politics finalist. She is currently working on her dissertation on the emancipatory potential of liberal democracies, with a focus on the outcomes of protest.
Warwick Globalist | Spring 2017 | 11
Politics and Economics
No False Alarm: The Emergence of Fake News and the Threat It Poses for Democracy Julia Heath throws light on the new phenomenon of fake news, probing its effect on electoral contests. Nowadays, thanks to platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google, the exposure fake stories can attain is unprecedented. The media has been democratized to the extent that anybody can publish anything and potentially reach millions of people worldwide. The problem is that many have taken advantage of the power of social media during the period leading up to elections (notably in the US presidential elections and in Italy’s constitutional referendum last December) to spread fabricated stories with the intent of influencing the electorate. Many believed these total fabrications or half-truths either because they just read the headline without questioning the authenticity of the source, or were unable to discern fake articles because they were published on websites that appeared professional and trustworthy. This raises significant issues considering that a misinformed population presents a serious danger to democracy. In fact, the spread of false information on a large scale represents a threat for democracy. It will prevent people from making an informed and educated decision. Before leaving office, President Obama stated: “Without the common baseline of facts, without the willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible”. Moreover, social media platforms are increasingly being used by populist organizations as an instrument to promote racist, sexist and xenophobic content. And when a nation begins to witness division, racism, and xenophobia, it results in a lack of mediation of ideas and opinions, which inevitably puts democracy in peril. The authors of these phony news stories range from the average American to Mac12 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
image flickr | Free Press edonian teens who ran pro-Trump fake news sites to pocket handsome sums. An American fake news writer admitted that he earned between $10,000 and $30,000 a month thanks to advertising that boosted traffic to fake news websites, and he conceded that it “probably helped get Donald Trump elected”. These writers intended to get the attention of the masses on social media with outrageous and false headlines such as: “Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for president” and “FBI agent suspected in Hillary email leaks found dead in apartment in murder-suicide”. Some articles went as far as accusing Hillary Clinton of selling weapons to ISIS or even using a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. as a ‘pedophile sex ring’. Through the power of social media and in particular Facebook (due to its algorithms that suggest what people are likely to click on), these bogus articles received an immense amount of views and shares because they were supposedly telling people
precisely what they want to hear. Trump’s supporters were particularly enthralled by the anti-immigration and the anti-Clinton rhetoric present in numerous fake news stories. It seems as though the headlines that sought to tarnish the democratic candidate’s image, appealed to many without any deference to their veracity. Facebook, as a result, has been highly criticized for allowing misinformation to spread freely and for playing a role in amplifying the volume of unnecessary political outrage. The pervasiveness of fake news was highlighted by BuzzFeed’s analysis, which found that the top performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from official news outlets. These findings are worrying not only because they confirm the extent to which society is affected by absurd and fabricated stories, but also because they insinuate that a great portion of the electorate was perhaps profoundly misinformed at the time they cast their ballots last November.
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And as if fake news didn’t play a large enough role in misinforming the populace, Donald Trump only exacerbated the fake news trend by legitimizing some of the hoaxes. For instance, throughout his campaign, Trump repeatedly depicted his opponent as a criminal by reiterating that Clinton helped fund ISIS, with absolutely no proof for his absurd claims. In a speech last August, Trump’s nominee for national security adviser retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, repeated the absurd claim that “Democratic senators voted to impose Islamic Sharia law in Florida”, thereby turning ridiculously false allegations into what may seem like a genuine concern to many Americans. In Germany, too, fake news has proliferated and has caused a great deal of concern among government officials about the impact misinformation could have on the elections later this year. German officials have been taking this threat very seriously and have repeatedly accused social media platforms like Facebook of complacency for allowing the dissemination of hate speech and fabricated stories online. As a result, Facebook has recently announced that it will enable German users to flag potentially bogus reports in order to prevent false news stories from spreading.
The surge of fake news and the legitimizing of conspiracy theories on a large scale prompted Oxford Dictionaries to select the term “post-truth” as its word of the year 2016, which it qualified as a state of affairs in which “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Just as the media has power to influence public opinion, fake news has the power to sway public opinion and influence the way people vote. This phenomenon has been compared to an ecosystem of real-time propaganda in which false and hyper-biased ‘news’ on the Internet can rapidly shape public opinion through mass ‘reaction’, resulting in a misinformed electorate. Needless to say, this misinformation is predicated upon a very specific ideological bias. This has prompted leaders of Western democracies to speak up and voice their profound concern regarding the spread of false information and warned of the risks this posed for democracy. In the wake of the US election, Obama asserted in an interview with the New Yorker that: “the capacity to disseminate misinformation, wild conspiracy theories, to paint the opposition in wildly negative light — has ac-
celerated in ways that much more sharply polarize the electorate and make it very difficult to have a common conversation”. In Germany, where fake news websites have also thrived, Angela Merkel warned that the spread of phony headlines and hate speeches has lead to an alarming growth of populism and political extremes in Western democracies. As Hannah Arendt pointed out it in The Origins of Totalitarianism: “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists”. Arendt’s thought is very relevant even today, when it appears that democratic societies have reached abysmal levels of critical thinking skills and knowledge. Fake news represents a new, and growing, front in the battle to preserve democracy. Julia Heath is a third year Politics and International Studies student with a particular interest in US politics and foreign policy.
Warwick Globalist | Spring 2017 | 13
image flickr | abuaiman
Politics and Economics
Humanitarian Intervention: The New Imperialism?
Aine Clarke analyses the concept of humanitarian intervention, exploring its imperialistic tendencies. Labelled “the most important shift in our conception of sovereignty since the treaty of Westphalia”, the UN’s responsibility to protect (R2P) in theory and in practice has been sacrificed at the altar of power politics many times since its conception. The crass manipulation of the original policy doctrine has had serious consequences not only for the individual actors involved but also for the very concept itself. From Libya to Iraq, humanitarian intervention has come to reflect the pursuit of a neo-imperialist strategy by other means, endangering the lives of those it seeks to protect. Humanitarian intervention in the guise of the responsibility to protect has become the latest buzzword in the increasingly universal discourse on human rights. Re-emerging in the wake of the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides in the 1990s the concept was inspired by the political failure of the international community in the face of gross human rights violations. During that time the UN authorized six interventionist missions on humanitarian grounds. Recently, however, its popularity has decreased dramatically. The invasions of Iraq and Georgia and the regime change in Libya, along with a host of negative externalities associated with recent missions, have called into question the means, motives and ultimate utility of humanitarian intervention in the contemporary age. A factor that provokes further debate is the success, or lack of it, of humanitarian intervention. The lack of consensus in international law regarding the legitimacy and legality of intervention, 14 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
coupled with the seeming contradiction in terms of sovereignty, adds to its controversial and problematic nature. The defence of humanitarian intervention in customary international law dates back to Hugo Grotius, a Dutch philosopher and political theorist of the Enlightenment era who focused on European politics in the 17th century. This argument established a moral responsibility for states to protect the human rights of citizens in cases where their own government had failed to do so. This principle grew increasingly important in the post-world war two era, when the systemic murder of Jews during the Nazi regime was uncovered. However the norm seems both to be aligned with and opposed to the provisions of international law. Regardless of the moral implication of the missions, their coercive and imposing nature breeches the sovereignty principle laid down in the UN charter, which permits the use of force only in cases of self-defence. First enforced by the treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the right of states to act freely within their own borders has been the defining feature of the international system for centuries. These two contradictory but longstanding principles have plagued the operations of the UN Security Council (UNSC) - the contemporary arbiter of the legitimate use of force – and have ultimately had a profound impact on UNSC’s effectiveness and legitimacy in security crises. A point nicely outlined by Secretary General Kofi Annan in relation to the Rwandan genocide “If in those
dark hours leading up to the genocide, a coalition of states had been prepared to act, but did not receive prompt Council authorization, should such a coalition have stood aside and allowed the horror to unfold?” The Security Council has also been plagued by the power politics of permanent members indicating that rational self-interest is not absent in humanitarian discourse. To what extent it can continue to solve the moral dilemmas of modern politics has been a much-debated topic in recent times.
“…the political, social and economic reconstruction of the afflicted country, has taken on an innately Western, institutionalised and liberal policy framework, intent on orchestrating a morally and politically erudite civilisation.” The responsibility to protect was supposed to change this lack of consensus by re-situating focus on human security. To this end, the goals of humanitarian intervention were reviewed in the early 2000s, following a drastic redefinition of state sovereignty. Francis Deng, UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, recalling the political philosophers of the 17th century argued that the sovereignty of a state should hinge on its responsibility to protect its citizens and when that responsibility is breeched there is justification for intervention. However, the political wrangling involved in achieving the commitment to R2P by all nations
Faces of Nationalism
at the World Summit in 2005, produced a watered down version of the initial International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) report and proved that despite official rhetoric, realist power politics and national interest were still at play. The US was particularly vocal about the imposing of constraints on its use of unilateral force and feared it would force the country to commit in situations where it had no national interest; reservations echoed by the vocal few. Designed to give a higher degree of impartiality, the document outlines a more holistic approach to humanitarian intervention with agreed criteria for when intervention would occur - only as a last resort and in the face of gross human suffering – but the concept of neutrality remains elusive.
Aside from power politics, controversy arises over the very nature of humanitarian intervention, which can resemble colonial imperialism all too closely. The use of military force and actions associated with ‘peace building’ and the political, social and economic reconstruction of the af-
rights outlined in the charter have a distinctly socio-political realm aligned with Western democracy and market capitalism. As Krasner puts it: “Ideas have been one among several instruments that actors have invoked to promote their own, usually mundane, interests”. This leads to the very legitimate argument for the cultural particularism of certain rights. The arguments of liberal imperialists, which invoke both of the above statements, can hardly be ignored. Neither do their contradictions go unnoticed or undisputed by the international community. The invasion of Iraq, cited for reasons of humanitarianism, continues to cast a long shadow over the debate. The further undermining of the principle and the delegitimising the Security Council as the ultimate arbiter of international peace and security are but two consequences. The failure of the ‘humanitarian mission’ and the subsequent fractionalising of al-Qaeda into what is now known as ISIS, compounded the insinuations of imperial hubris. image flickr | un_photo
The Libyan intervention in 2011 - the first case of R2P in action – is indicative of this. Responding to Gaddafi’s ominous statements that the opposition were “cockroaches, who did not deserve to live”, Security Council resolution 1973 authorised the international community to take ‘all necessary measures’ in protecting civilians under threat. The coalition of the African Union, Gulf Cooperation Council, Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Councils, backed by NATO airstrikes, succeeded in defeating the regime and protecting millions of civilians. But while the short-term victories are most apparent, long-term realities remain. Bolstered by the security vacuum and the intensity of NATO airstrikes, which were increasingly widespread and indiscriminate, the ensuing war has subjected millions to further violence and caused the dilapidation of the state. More strategically, the chosen method of Western intervention, airstrikes, was also questioned as an appropriate means to effectively ‘protect civilians’, which could arguably have been achieved more successfully with ‘boots on the ground’. The question of ‘whose security’ was very much at play. Furthermore, NATO’s broad mandate breeched political neutrality by aiding the opposition and forcing regime change, delegitimising the principles enshrined
in the R2P doctrine. Indeed, despite the breech in neutrality, Libya represented a very special case in that none of the permanent members of the Security Council had an interest in the country. This is in stark opposition to a country like Syria, where the same civilian threat was posed and carried out, but the veto power of the Council members ensured that no such action could be taken. For this reason, an R2P mission like Libya may never happen again.
flicted country, have taken on an innately Western, institutionalised and liberal policy framework, intent on orchestrating a morally and politically erudite civilisation. Although, as critics argue, humanitarian intervention does not stop at physical measures, with financial aid and sanctions making up the bulk of humanitarian operations, the conditions associated with this aid are part of an insidious power politics. They often entail some form of structural adjustment programme and the implementation of a distinct form of democratic governance. A further ethical issue surrounds the greater claim to the universality of human rights, which are in fact far from universal. Which human rights are prioritised and the very idea that human rights be prioritised over state sovereignty is a distinctly Western argument. Many of the
Despite this, billions of dollars and an increasing array of actors continue to work in crisis situations to great success. One only needs to point to Bosnia or Sierra Leone to see the true value of humanitarian missions. While in the current climate it is hard to see how the norm should shake off its imperialist tag, it is imperative that it does – for the sake of millions of lives the world over. Aine Clarke is a current M.A. Student of International Political Economy with a strong interest in Security and Strategic studies.
Warwick Globalist | Spring 2017 | 15
Arts and Culture
CARTOONIST COMPETITION FAR LEFT: “Primal Urges”, Woody Phillips-Smith
LEFT: Aine Clarke
FEATURED CARTOONIST For the last three and a half years Iranian cartoonist Ali Dorani, known as ‘Eaten Fish’, has been imprisoned on Manus Island. He is not a criminal or a prisoner of war, but a refugee seeking asylum in Australia. He suffers from debilitating mental health issues and whilst in Australian Government custody he has been the victim of sexual assault, chronic sexual harassment and abuse. In 2016 Ali won the Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning from Cartoonists Rights Network International. As of 5th February 2017 he has been on a hunger strike. Visit eatenfish.com to support his campaign.
16 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
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‘Often copied never bettered’
ON DIGITAL PRINT
image Anna Branthwaite
Established in 1946, family-owned and run, our ethos is simple: to listen to our clients and work with them to deliver exactly what they want. If you would like to know how we can help with your next print project, please call Simon Moore on, 07796 945405 or firstname.lastname@example.org Warwick Printing Company Ltd Caswell Road, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV31 1QD Tel: 07796 945405 Email: email@example.com Website: www.warwickprinting.co.uk
Warwick Globalist | Autumn 2016 | 15
Arts and Culture
Human Identity in ‘The Human Document’
image Shahn Kunstenaar
Alpana Sajip explores the wider implications of the Mead Gallery’s 2016 exhibition ‘The Human Document’, considering how truthfully photography can reflect the human condition, and how it has continued to evolve from post-Depression America to today’s digital universe.
image flickr | reddirtpics
A migrant mother from the depression era Photographs that “related people to the land and vice versa” – this is what economist Roy Stryker, head of the Historical Section of the Farm Security Administration (FSA), envisioned for the collection that later formed the 1962 Museum of Modern Art (New York) exhibition, The Bitter Years. A selection of photos from this collection (depicting life in rural America during the 1930s) converged with works by contemporary artists to form last term’s showcase at the Warwick Arts Centre’s Mead Gallery: The Human Document, a reflection on the human condition through the years and across the world. Though essentially racist in its core beliefs, maintaining as it did segregationist policies such as the Poll Tax and Jim Crow laws, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition had the overwhelming support of African-Americans (garnering 71% of the black vote in 1936), as at that time there was no other way than through 18 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
Sheriff’s Deputy, West Virginia
collective class struggle for marginalised groups to further seek their interests. The Human Document, however, seems to depict working-class America as a uniform entity with unilateral interests, and in doing so essentially undermines the existence of structural racism. For instance, it appears to reduce the economic problems of the AfricanAmerican working class to the wider public issue of mass unemployment. Furthermore, it merely glances over the very real fact of racially-motivated police brutality, an issue which is still pressingly relevant today. It is true that digitisation has caused a reduction in crime and police brutality because the system has become selfpolicing: surveillance cameras and body-cams worn by police officers act as disciplinary measures for both police and potential victims. Yet brutality has become more visible for this very reason, and therefore may seem to some as though it has become more prevalent.
David Denby in the London Review of Books asserts that the medium of video recording “transforms an excruciating personal disaster, a private moment, into a public and political event”. There is something vaguely perverted about the way we enjoy the aestheticism of violence in commercially artistic form. Nevertheless these videos reveal actual violence to be “abrupt, clumsy, stupid”; we emphatically cannot enjoy them, but can only be filled with complete horror. He asserts that photos “are often said to change ugliness into beauty, but these photographs transform nothing; in their palpably raw state, they are as eloquent morally as they are useful as evidence.” This sentiment cannot be wholly applied to the FSA photos on display, as there is no representation of overt raciallymotivated violence, meaning that the collection’s racially-skewed perspective cannot act as a complete representation of human identity at this time.
Faces of Nationalism There is perhaps a slight sense of discomfort that arises from considering the issue of representation. One might question the place of the middle-class FSA photographers and artists to use destitute working-class families as their subjects in a display that was ultimately aimed at the middle-class audiences of middleclass publications. David Whitford’s 2005 article in Fortune magazine dissects reactions to the 1941 book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which contains images by FSA photographer Walker Evans. Subjects were left dissatisfied at the way in which they were depicted:
“You were looking at people that were struggling to put food on the table, you know? It was a simple life. They didn’t have anything. Everybody wants something. That’s probably the American dream… They were cast in a light that they couldn’t do any better, that they were doomed, ignorant… Even though I know they were real poor, no doubt about that, but they weren’t ignorant, and they definitely weren’t lazy.” The attitude of Edward Steichen, curator of the 1962 Bitter Years exhibition, makes this even more jarring: he appeared to relish the “theatricality” of photography and didn’t “distinguish between art and documentation”, exemplifying his tendency to trivialise the experiences of those communities to make thoughtprovoking art rather than being true to their experience. But where can the line between art and social documentation be drawn? The aim of the FSA file was ostensibly to “introduce America to Americans”, but was Steichen’s aim aligned with this, or did he simply consider “objectification of communities” an unfortunate by-product of creating art? There may be some a feeling of voyeuristic unease – photography during the 1930s was for the most part a luxury available to the privileged few. And yet, I do not believe that these communities have been objectified – perhaps contemporary viewers might have thought them “doomed, ignorant”, but I see only resilience, courage, determination and strength. Ultimately Steichen’s collection, and now The Human Document, give a
crucial insight into understanding the experiences of some rural workers at that time and therefore into understanding human progress as we know it. Steichen claimed “it is not the individual pictures, nor the work of individual photographers that makes these pictures so important, but it is the job as a whole as it has been produced by the photographers as a group that makes it such a unique and outstanding achievement”. The binary of individual and the collective is integral to interpreting the collection. Roosevelt’s attempts to socialise the agricultural system strongly contrasted with his predecessor Hoover’s individualist approach, and this renewed idea of fellowship and amity can be seen in the FSA photos; there exists a common problem, but undoubtedly what also appears common is the presentation of the perseverance that is intrinsic in human nature. One of Lange’s subjects, an old Mexican labourer, said “I have worked all my life and all I have now is my broken body” – yet despite the haggard appearances, the destitute surroundings, these workers remain determined. Something about them seems more human than the people in collections by later artists – for me this arises from the focus on faces, particularly eyes, whose expressions range from haunting to defiant. They are united by their common condition; there is an unmistakeable feeling of solidarity emanating from these photographs. By contrast, photographs by Chris Killip and Paul Graham – taken in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, and reflective of the Thatcherite government’s political restructuring – mark another shift, this time from the collective to the individual. Thatcher famously claimed that there was “no such thing as society”: policies such as taxation on short-term unemployment and abolition of earnings-related supplements had a devastating effect on the country’s working class, creating an urban underclass. Thatcher affirmed in her 1993 memoir ‘The Downing Street Years’ that she “never felt uneasy about praising ‘Victorian values’”, and indeed, Killip’s ‘Youth on wall, Jarrow, Tyneside’ looks almost like a Victorian chimney-sweeper, reflecting a return to the establishment of that age and the ruthless way it treated ‘the undeserving poor’. Killip and Graham clearly distil the isolation and depersonalisation resulting
from miscommunication between the broken political system and the people. This homogenised group is paradoxically unified only by each person’s isolation under the common problem of neglect. There is no focus on eyes here; their separate identities are lost. There is something about the 1930s photographs that makes them revolutionary in their particular historical moment; indeed, if a group were to be commissioned in the modern age to complete a similar project, the effect would not be the same, diminished somehow. Can photography still be a valid form of social documentation in such an “image-saturated society” as the one we live in today? Do images still hold the same kind of emotive power now as they did before the digitisation of society, or has their power been undermined by the frequency with which social media allows us to access and disseminate them? Eileen Perrier’s collection ‘Mobile Portraits’ is an apt embodiment of this question: seemingly unassuming pictures taken on an iPhone of everyday people going about their lives cause us to re-evaluate the role of photographer and subject. Almost anyone or anything in the modern age can play either role, and for me the mundane nature of Perrier’s collection highlights the dilution of photography as an art form that has resulted from society’s social media revolution. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that photography can’t still be used for similar purposes as those from the FSA file; I don’t believe that we have been desensitised enough that powerful images of distress and suffering do not still “awaken emotion, outrage, engagement” within us. The ease with which we can access these images coincides with a wider digital revolution that makes it easier for us to actually do something about what we see. The same could not be said, perhaps, of the viewers of the FSA file; it is therefore crucial that we learn from this kind of social documentation in order to prevent more suffering of the kind we see all too often. Alpana Sajip is a second-year English Literature student at Warwick. She is also the Deputy Arts Editor at The Boar and a member of the executive committee for the Shakespeare Society. She is looking forward to embarking on a year abroad in Berlin in October. Warwick Globalist | Spring 2017 | 19
Arts and Culture
image flickr | Wolf Gang
Being Black and British: BBC’s NW adaptation reviewed Fatima Ali Omar reviews the BBC’s recent T.V. film adaptation of Zadie Smith’s 2012 novel, NW, exploring black identity, struggle and redemption.
Zadie Smith by Jillian Tamaki Zadie Smith’s sprawling novel, NW, encapsulates ideas of love, race, class, gender and self-made success. The BBC’s 90-minute adaptation of Smith’s novel explores multi-cultural Britain, shining a light on the nuance of black identity, and celebrating blackness – all the while gripping viewers. Aired during the BBC’s ‘Black and British’ season (November 2016), the programme disrupts the monotony of period dramas which now grace our screens with easy familiarity. A variety of characters are introduced, opening with the Caribbean Keisha (now self-baptised as Natalie), a successful lawyer who has worked her way up to the top and out of a council estate to a nice house in Queen’s Park. Leah, a charity worker and Natalie’s half-Irish best friend, still reside in the council estate where she and Natalie grew up, and both remain emotionally and socially attached to the complex. Nathan and Felix also feature – the former is an old-school friend of 20 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
Natalie and Leah’s, now homeless. Felix is a young man unconnected to any of these characters – he is ridding himself of his drug addiction and making pains to create a better life for himself. Whilst these characters may occupy the same postcode; London’s NW, their experiences are as varied as one can imagine. Being Black and British can often be a difficult balancing act – NW perfectly captures this dichotomy.
for Natalie, it is a needed reprieve from the façade she must uphold in her daily life. On the surface, she appears fulfilled: her career affords her material desires, and she is married to the affluent ItalianTrinidadian, Franco. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that she is neither fulfilled nor satisfied by her life and enters a self-harming nihilistic pattern of scouring the internet in order to have anonymous sex with strangers.
The adaptation’s nostalgic tone – created via flashbacks and the biting statements of truth Leah hurls at Natalie, that remind her of where she came from – takes us on a journey through the friendship shared by Natalie and Leah. NW uses the council estate as a common focal point for these characters. Despite how much Natalie may have achieved and the apparent failure on the other character’s parts due to the inevitable comparison with her own success, the friendship shared by these two women has formed their identity, and
NW catalogues many prevalent problematic issues for women of colour, such as the sacrifices they make to climb the professional ladder. As Natalie’s mum tells her during a flashback: “You have to work twice as hard as them”, and it is clear Natalie does work hard; she approaches life as “a problem that could be solved by means of professionalization”. Quickly climbing through the ranks, she qualifies as a barrister, focusing on legal-aid work, until it becomes apparent she is losing almost all of her cases. This marks the
Faces of Nationalism unravelling of the illusion of upwardsmobility – contemporary Britain is still marred by institutional racism. Natalie’s black mentor thus advises her to shed the legal aid work, telling her that passion is misunderstood when you are black: what is considered legal defence from a floppy-haired Oxbridge graduate, is mistaken for anger in a woman of colour. Natalie’s character is a sympathetic one – the audience realizes they must put her dangerous adultery into context and understand that she is seeking some gratifying thrill outside of the mundane, an escape from the suffocating expectation of perfection. In a drama that concerns itself with the locale of its characters and the drive they possess to escape their situations, Leah is a breath of fresh air - she is defiant in her attachment to the council estate where her and Natalie’s friendship was born. It is this friendship with Leah that is Natalie’s only provision of an honest encounter - someone who knows her and thus allows her to drop her middleclass façade of perfection .There is a underbelly to this friendship however, as Leah understands that Natalie only invites her to the fancy dinner parties attended by Natalie’s successful friends so she can provide some ‘authenticity’, to validate Natalie’s humble beginnings on a Council Estate. Yet despite this, we are given touching scenes which speak of a more emotionally charged aspect of their friendship as Natalie comforts Leah as she accepts the fact that she wants love and not children yet cannot reconcile this with what she feels her husband wants. It is scenes like this that speak more of the true nature of NW, nothing is simple and
more importantly as we see, nothing is ever what it seems on the surface. This is embodied perhaps most aptly by Nathan a former school friend of Natalie and Leah, who was once scouted by the Queens Park Rangers football club and adored by all the girls at school. His reality is now homelessness, begging on the underground. It’s this shocking spectrum of outcomes which NW explores that successfully raises the question of potential - the fragility of potential for black people. Potential is not being given the opportunity to thrive and even when it seemingly has, as in the case of Natalie, it is sacrificed for happiness and honesty as she is trapped by the ‘perfect’ life she has forged for herself. Most heart-breaking is the flashback we are given of a young Nathan kicking a football about joyously as Natalie and Leah watch on from the secure adolescent safety of their bedroom. The man we are faced with in present day, has no childish delight in his features and it is this reality that we are brought back to as his life is no longer a football game but rather a desperate attempt to stay alive in the unforgiving streets of NW.
It is this theme of wasted potential that is further explored in Felix, for all intents and purposes he is the most personally fulfilled of all of the characters and he is fixing his life, neither particularly affluent or sharing any history with the other characters. Felix’s value lie in his honesty with himself and his official plan to better himself. Suave and with a thirst for life licking at his heels he is certainly the most tragic character in NW, his defence of a pregnant lady on the tube against a gang leader results in him becoming a statistic whose life is left unexplored and a taste of bitterness is left in the viewer’s mouths. It is this that angers us more than anything as Felix is no longer the charismatic young man that we grew to know, but rather another stabbing victim and thus an unexamined case lacking the nuance his character deserves. Natalie in the BBC adaptation
image | Hamish Hamilton Zadie Smith’s NW front cover Despite it not pandering to a typical audience in its addressing of issues some would usually avoid, NW represents multi-cultural Britain in a much subtler way. Whilst these characters may not be people you know intimately they are familiar faces that you have come across, even interacted with once or twice, and it is this slight familiarity that draws people into Zadie Smith’s world. Her dedication to the exploration of identity ensures that we see some aspect of ourselves reflected in these characters and her honesty in unpacking the troubles and problems that follow them, will touch even the hardest of hearts. Yet it is the overarching themes of friendship and redemption which drive this adaptation, the characters shared history and memories remind them of a simpler time and of the common humanity that they all share regardless of the trajectory their lives have taken - it is this humanity which lifts the bleak curtain hanging over the adaptation. Despite the bleak honesty employed, it is invaluable in portraying the nuance of lives so often ignored on TV and in return offers us a refreshing take on black and British identity. Fatima Ali Omar is a first-year English Literature student. She is a beater on the Warwick quidditch team and enjoys reading and writing about ethnic minority identities in literature.
Warwick Globalist | Spring 2017 | 21
image pixabay | by-angie
Science and Technology
Kevin Xu confronts widely-held notions of scientific ‘facts’, and explains why we should be more sceptical. We often react in frustration when hearing about cases of people who think that global warming is a myth, or that vaccines cause autism. We might perceive such people as ignorant, failing to appreciate the epistemic standard of science. Perhaps we are tired of explaining that a ‘scientific theory’ is more than just a ‘guess’, but actually a well-founded explanation supported by repeated observation and experiment. Still, it is important to consider whether we can view science with such level of certainty (some even call science a fact), or whether our responses are simply overreactions against people who seem to possess such differing standards of evidence for different issues. In this article I am going to discuss how we ought to think about scientific ‘facts’ and why we should really be more sceptical than we currently are. We might think that there are only two types of reasoning, deductive and inductive. Deductive reasoning starts from a general theory taking certain premises or axioms. For example, we might start by defining a Bachelor as an unmarried male adult. If we assume this is true, then we can logically deduce from X is a bachelor the assertion X is male. We can assert this is the case without relying on any ev22 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
idence of the external world. Further, as long as our definition holds (along with certain assumptions about predicates), our assertion is always true. Compare this to inductive reasoning which starts from an observation and tries to develop a general theory. For example, suppose that I go to the park and see a white swan. I do this every day for a year, and each time I see a swan, I note that its colour is white. As a result, I might develop an inductive theory that all swans are white. I might ask my friends about the colour of swans that they themselves see, to see if they are also white. Nevertheless, it is clear that my theory is false simply because of the existence of black swans. Suppose however, that no one had ever seen a black swan or for that matter, any swan that wasn’t white. Does this mean that the theory is correct; that the next swan I see will definitely be white? No, because we have been unable to prove that any swan must be white. Simply observing only white swans is not enough. What it does however, is provide us with significant reason to think that the next swan we see will be white. The scientific method is a type of inductive reasoning. By looking at the evidence
of the natural world, scientists come up with a theory to explain a phenomenon. They reason that their explanation provides the most convincing explanation of the evidence and the data. They consult with other scientists and engage in peer review to ensure that their scientific techniques are rigorous. In some ways, this is stronger than deductive reasoning since we need not assume any base premises, we can simply rely on evidence. This provides us very significant reason to embrace scientific notions such as anthropogenic global warming or the effectiveness of vaccines. We must remember however that inductive reasoning does not make such notions facts. It does not make such notions necessarily true. It is always possible for a new theory to be developed that explains all previous notions and more. Note that even if the current scientific theory makes accurate predictions about future phenomena, this still isn’t enough to assert that it is true. Just because I correctly predict that the next swan I see is white, does not mean that my white swan theory is correct. Here is a question to the reader. Do you yourself ‘believe’ in global warming, or the effectiveness of vaccines? If you do, then the obvious question is why? There
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are many whose acceptance of science is simply a deference to the judgement of professional scientists. Given that I posit very few of us have seen the actual evidence (not just scientific papers) first hand to support such theories, we might think that it is odd or even negligent for us to have so much confidence in their correctness. One might even argue that until one sees the evidence in person, then their belief in science is barely more grounded than a theist’s faith in God. Even for those who have seen such evidence, their assessment of the data might be grounded in false foundations (since the ‘background science’ might be incorrect).
“Just because I correctly predict that the next swan I see is white, does not mean that my white swan theory is correct.”
This does not mean that we should reject science altogether. Indeed, the actual foundations of science do not rely on our notions of truth or fact, but are simply arguments from best explanation. These explanations help us to make practical predictions of nature that seem correct. The reason climate change deniers might frustrate us is not because they are incredibly sceptical, but more because their standards for knowledge seem to vary.
incredible pragmatic reasons to accept scientific theories. Overwhelmingly, we have reason to accept claims based upon the scientific method. I am only asking us to be a bit more sceptical and to realise that the inductive theories of science are plausibly wrong. Kevin Xu is a third year student of Mathematics and Philosophy at Warwick.
Perhaps they perceive the evidence for climate change as insufficient but are too willing to buy into what we might call ‘pseudo-science’. The important thing is that we recognise the grounding that our scientific theories are based upon. That we understand the limitations of the scientific method. I’m not denying the
image | sourcewatch.org Warwick Globalist | Spring 2017 | 23
Science and Technology
Tiny Breakthrough Pharmacology
Human colorectal cancer cells
Ashleigh Chester reports on recent advances in nanotechnology which promise to transform pharmacotherapy. For years scientists have zealously researched new ways of improving and developing drugs and their delivery systems. In recent years, the potential of nanotechnology to improve various drugs and their delivery has been studied extensively. Nanoparticles (in the region of 10-9 meters in size) can increase drug solubility and stability whilst delivering the drug to a specific target site in the body, controlling the rate of release to prevent overdose. So how do these remarkable particles actually work? As the name suggests, nanoparticles have nanometer scale ‘cavities’ or ‘holes’ and are thus able to ‘hold’ a specific drug molecule by forming an inclusion complex with it. The nanoparticle is then transported through the body and delivers the drug to its destination. By modifying the groups (cross-linkers) that are attached to the nanoparticle, scientists can design it for many different uses. Different functional groups attached to the molecule cause it to have a specificity for a particular target site in the body. This specificity allows the nanoparticle to recognize where the drug needs to be released; the moieties attached to it have a greater affinity for the moieties of that specific target site. A nanoparticle of particular interest to the pharmaceutical community is Cyclodextrin, first discovered in 1871, which is a cyclic array of sugar molecules that form a cone-like 3D structure. Cyclodextrins have excellent complexation capabilities and can thus bind to drugs readily. This, combined with the fact that they are thermally stable, non-toxic, cheap and commercially available, makes for a very exciting proposition in a drug delivery system. The central hole of Cyclodextrins can 24 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
form hydrophobic (‘water-fearing’) interactions with the drug, altering some of its properties. The outer shell of the cone structure is hydrophilic (‘water-loving’) as a result of the hydroxyl (OH) groups, allowing the molecule to be transported throughout the body.
“By modifying the nanoparticle to target tumour tissues specifically, the drug is able to inhibit the DNA of diseased cells, leading to their death” A December 2016 study showed the effectiveness of β-cyclcodextrin, which is Cyclodextrin containing seven sugar units, as a delivery system for the drug Melphalan (Mel), used in Melanoma therapy. The increasing prevalence of Melanoma has led to a demand for more effective and non-invasive treatment techniques. By modifying the nanoparticle to target tumour tissues specifically, the drug is able to inhibit the DNA of diseased cells, killing the tumour without harming the surrounding cells. Furthermore, the study showed that the complexation of Mel to β-Cyclodextrin increased the drug’s bioavailability, meaning the proportion of drug entering circulation was improved. The β-Cyclodextrin delivery system did not change the drug’s pathway and had no toxic effects but did enable the Melphalan to increase the diseased cell death. The potential use of β-Cyclodextrin in treating Atherosclerosis, a disease where the arteries become blocked with plaque, is currently under review. Reports surfaced in April 2016 about the effect of the nanoparticle on cholesterol levels in mice. Two groups of mice were fed a high cholesterol diet over the course of eight weeks but only one group was injected with Cy-
clodextrin. The study concluded that the drug essentially reduced inflammation of the arteries and worked by ‘switching on’ the body’s cholesterol-removing process. No side effects were observed, and although clinical trials will need to be performed and more information obtained, Cyclodextrin’s potential cholesterol-dissolving properties could have significant benefits, helping to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Due to their unique and easily modified structure, Cyclodextrins and their derivatives have a vast number of applications. Improvements in their manufacture has led to a rise in their use and they are now easily accessible. Their contribution to the pharmaceutical industry is constantly evolving and testing the boundaries of medical treatment. Ashleigh Chester is a second year BSc Chemistry student at Warwick, with an interest in nanotechnology.
Faces of Nationalism image | NCI Center for Cancer Research
image | S. Zimmer et al., Science Translational Medicine
The effect of Cyclodextrin treatment on the build-up of cholesterol crystals (white) in the arteries of mice. The blue represents the cell nuclei and the red represents macrophages (cells which cause inflammation) image | J. Zhou, H. Ritter, Royal Society of Chemistry
The use of Cyclodextrin â€˜cone-shapedâ€™ nanoparticles as a drug delivery system
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Science and Technology
Science Smothered by Flags: A lesson from the past Drawing on evidence from the USSR, Natércia Rodrigues explores the inhibitory effect nationalism can have on science. Scientists tend to identify knowledge exchange as one of the golden rules of good scientific practice, primarily in the form of conference attendance, collaboration or publication. A well connected scientific community encourages a multidisciplinary approach to problems and allows scientists with different experiences, views and perspectives to get involved, sharing knowledge and resources. Moreover, a scientific community with a strong awareness of global scientific developments avoids research duplication. It avoids multiple research groups working on the same thing and reaching the same conclusions, which, apart from when this is done to check data reproducibility, could potentially be a waste of time and resources. Sharing information across borders benefits scientific development and, consequently, humanity. The ideal scenario of unrestricted communication and collaboration within the scientific community is, however, not al26 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
ways a reality. Recent events might have raised the reader’s awareness of just how much politics influences science communications; specifically, the recent request by President Trump’s administration that science-related institutions limit what they share with the public until further notice – a ‘de facto gag order’. While one might think that keeping political views out of scientific practice is absolutely essential for keeping it objective and impartial, this gag order reminds us how in many ways the work of a scientist is dependent on the decisions of government. If a government is oriented towards self-governance and full sovereignty of the nation – nationalistic government – international exchanges and cooperation are likely to be limited so that foreign interference is minimised and the country’s competitiveness is not jeopardised. The impact of such politics on science throughout the years is well reported in the literature. Since it would be impossible to cover the full breadth and depth on this subject in few pages, this
article attempts to illustrate the effects of nationalism on science by exploring the example of scientific communications between the now extinct Soviet Union and the West (meaning mainly Europe and the USA). Revisiting the science of the Soviet Union becomes particularly relevant in light of the aforementioned gag order put in place by President Trump, a man whose approach to science Australia’s chief scientist compared to Stalin’s. Before World War I (WWI), as the world moved towards globalization, a more international approach to scientific practice also gained momentum. Particularly relevant during this time was the hosting of some of the first international conferences such as the Solvay Conferences. The first of these conferences, hosted in Brussels, in 1911, served as the stage for Albert Einstein to present his pioneering work on the revolutionary quantum theory. In later editions, the Solvay Conferences hosted many other big names, including
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Marie Curie and Niels Bohr. While the Soviet Union did not yet exist, the strong Russian presence in international conferences and the nomination of Russian scientists for important scientific prizes (for example, Ivan Pavlov, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1904) suggests that Russian science and its scientists were respected and well regarded by the West. The dawn of WWI would put a halt to this wide-spread scientific collaboration; international communications are at a premium in wartime. The final years of WWI saw revolution in Russia, culminating in the formation of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1922. The main challenges for scientific communication in the early years of the USSR were mainly due to the fact that foreign governments would not acknowledge the legitimacy of the USSR, but this nation made significant efforts to improve its relationship with the West. For example, the ‘All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries’ was an institution created in 1925 to promote communications with other countries and advertise scientific advances from the USSR. In the same year, an international conference was held in Russia, the first since WWI, and many foreign scientists attended. Travel abroad and communication with foreign scientists was, at this time, fairly unrestricted within the Soviet Union and science communication was showing signs of improvement. As Stalin’s reign continued, state control of the academic sphere increased and things changed. Science (particularly experimental science) had a privileged place within the USSR because it was thought to play an important part in evolution, a fundamental concept of the dialectical materialism that guided governmental action. Stalin’s orders were that all scientific fields should remodel themselves in order to align with the Marxist philosophy that ruled the nation. Certain fields of science were suspected of being ‘idealistic’ and were therefore supressed; this included biology, physics, history, statistics and others. Out of fear that Soviet scientists would be ‘corrupted’, restrictions on communications and travel were enforced and authorities were set up to supervise visiting foreign scientists. Following the same reasoning, ‘inappropriate’ foreign literature was eradicated from Soviet libraries and Soviet
contributions to Western scientific journals almost disappeared as Soviet scientists were encouraged to publish solely in national journals. Those who insisted on keeping in contact with foreign scientists and publishing in foreign journals were regarded with suspicion, often being arrested and prosecuted. Such was the case of mathematician Nikolai Luzin, who in 1936 – the first year of the ideological cleansing movement, the ‘Great Purge’ – was accused of trying to undermine Soviet science because he published extensively in foreign journals. Luzin escaped arrest but was stripped of all his official positons. Nationalistic pride led to dismissal of non-Soviet scientific accomplishments and the heightening of national work published in national journals, so that the world would recognise and admire the excellence of Soviet science. Some international conferences were held in the USSR during this period – generously funded events that served as a proud showcase of national science. The years surrounding the Second World War (WWII) were a period of much unease for the Soviet Union in terms of international alignment. In the early stages of WWII and following a previously established pact on non-aggression with Germany, the Soviet Union aided Germany’s
territorial expansion ambitions. When, in 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, it quickly joined the Allies (USA, UK, France and others) in their quest to halt the advances of the European Axis (Germany, Italy, Japan). During this time, much effort was put towards increasing communications of all kinds, scientific included, between the Soviet Union and the rest of the Allied countries. WWII was again a period where much emphasis was put on science as a means to develop technology that would translate into an advantage on the battlefield, and it was understood that communication between scientists was important. Nevertheless, and as was the case during the previous world war, wartime hardships complicated international communications and hence no real progress was made in this front. Once WWII was over, and after a brief period of hope for global collaboration, Stalin’s ruling once again smothered Soviet science. No contact was to be made with foreign institutions without express governmental permission and Soviet delegations attending international conferences were under strict instructions on how to behave. These severe restrictions on communication with foreign scientists were gradually eased after Stalin’s death. The example of the Soviet Union – a nation whose politics turned inwards quite drastically for a long period of time – demonstrates clearly how nationalism can isolate a country and halt scientific communications, to the detriment of global scientific development. While even Stalin could recognise the importance of such exchanges of information, having at different stages of his ruling (in the early years of the Soviet Union and during WWII) encouraged such exchanges, the nationalistic views of his government always tended towards the impairment of free flowing communication between Soviet scientists and the rest of the world. We will never know what humanity could have achieved if all this time we had all been working together. Let us be wise enough not to repeat what happened when last we stood against each other. Natércia Rodrigues is currently in the final year of a PhD in Physical Chemistry. Warwick Globalist | Spring 2017 | 27
image Garry Knight, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license
Hear the Pussies Roar With many people taking to the streets to publicly object to the agenda of the new US President, Matilda Smith describes her view from inside the women’s march in London. As Donald Trump stood at the West Front of the United States Capital building in Washington, many who opposed him and the values for which he stands did more than sit in despair and gloom in front of their televisions. They did more than mutter pained and resentful comments as he walked his way up to the platform with his supporters staring misty eyed at their extraordinary good luck. They did more than sip resentfully at their gin and tonic as the phrase ‘President Trump’ was finally said in total and agonising sincerity. They bought their train tickets, made arrangements with friends and put paint to cardboard, preparing for their reply. They gathered in Washington, New York, Paris, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nairobi, Kolkata, Belgrade, Durban, Melbourne, Lima, Tbilisi, Budapest, Vancouver, Amsterdam, Florence, Erbil, Antarctica (yes Antarctica), and of course, London. In every part of the World people screamed out against Trump. I attended the London march, where there was an undeniable sense of connection to the many marches across the World. Walking off the train and out to the streets of London on Saturday 21st January I could 28 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
see no revolution. People shuffled along in suits and coats on a cold, grey morning. A stranger to London, I found myself shuffling with them, tentatively making my way to the American Embassy. But, as I drew closer, the London shufflers began to be replaced with placard-wielding, pussy-hat wearing, badge adorned protesters. Soon enough they crowded the streets; all walking together to the same place. We collected in a park in front of the US Embassy, the huge bronze eagle on top of the hideous concrete building glaring down at us. I took this opportunity to talk to some of the protesters; I wanted to know why they were here and what they hoped to achieve. Tentatively, I approached a group of young people and ask why they had come to the march. Without a moment of hesitation a girl replies “solidarity”. Solidarity was the word of the day, with “awareness” coming a close second. No one I asked called for Trump’s impeachment or even complained about the result of the election. They talked only of the unity and positivity that they felt from the March. When I asked Claire, who had come with her nine year old daughter, why she was here, she said that she felt as though she had been “drowning in the
negativity and the anger”. This wasn’t a gathering of ‘remoaners’ sulking in a park, these were people coming together to reject the intolerance and fearful-hate that had taken hold of our politics and to find empowerment from each-other. If the presence of hundreds of thousands of like-minded people coming together in solidarity wasn’t enough to feel empowered, then I suggest you look to the placards and signs, each more creative and hilarious than the last. Some went for a more straight forward approach: “my body my choice”, “feminism back by popular demand”, “fight like a girl” and “girls just wanna have fun-damental rights”. Others took the opportunity to bring up other issues they believed were threatened by Trump’s presidency: “Fight the alt-right”, “Trans people against Trump” and “Bisexuals are just confused by your ignorance”. Others took a more personal approach: “we shall over-combe”, “Free Ivanka”, “even Scousers think you’re too orange” and “golden showers brings orange cowards”. Initially I was unsure about this approach, worrying that it was unfair to criticize a politician based on their appearance or personal life, especially when there are so many more impor-
Perhaps the most common approach to the ‘art of placard designing’ was to enlist the symbol of the vagina; “viva la vagina”, “c*nt touch this”, “uteruses not duderuses”. Pussy references were plentiful, most visually seen in the pink pussy-hats, a clear reference to Trump’s “grab em’ by the pussy” comments. This approach also faced criticism, especially from those who believed it exclusionary to the trans community. This was this was more than just an angry reaction, women here were taking back a word, from a force of humiliation to a symbol of solidarity and power. In the same way that ‘sister’ has been a means of patronizing women and was turned into the unifying power of ‘sisterhood’, especially among women of colour. Pussy became a battle-cry for women to fight back against the normalization of sexual assault. And it was not just the normalisation of sexual assault that people came out to oppose. I spoke to many people who said that they had come to show to the world, especially to the next generation, that this is not normal. It isn’t be normal for an un-qualified rude misogynist to become the leader of the free world on a platform of racism and intolerance. It isn’t be normal to ignore the experts in science, economics, business, international law and history and listen exclusively to a handful of well lobbied politicians. It isn’t be normal for those in power to be supported by white supremacists. It isn’t be normal for innocent people to be afraid of the law enforcement just because of the colour of their skin. There is nothing normal about the way society and politics are changing. In the crowd I picked out three people carrying Amnesty International signs and asked them why they were here. A man by the name of Robert Jezek spoke of the threat towards liberalism and democracy; and of the gesture of support the march offered for “progressive” values. With him was Jane Harwood who said that she was afraid of the “scary way that the world was going”. Indeed, the march seemed to be operating as a way to alleviate this fear for 2017 and uphold the values we hold dear. The day was a reminder that no matter
what happens, there are still people, across the world, standing beside you. Interestingly, Robert also made reference to something that Nationalists have often had a monopoly on. War. He spoke of his Polish father who had “bled” for this country and his friends who had died. Of the shame he felt for those who are ignoring Britain’s legacy and of the sacrifices that had been made for them, that had been disregarded for hate and for fear. Historical reflection came too, largely from the speakers; who talked of women’s heritage and especially of the Suffragettes. They spoke of the example we were setting to the next generation, to make sure they understood their heritage and the power they possessed. Empowered, not just from the people around them, but also from the women of our past. A reminder of how far we had come and a call to reach further. This was also a warning to those who are attempting to equality, not just of gender but also of race, sexuality, ability and age, that we weren’t about to forget those who had sacrificed so much and worked so hard for equality and liberty. For the sake of ourselves, the legacies of activists of the past, and for the next generation, we weren’t just about to quieten down. By the time I had reached Trafalgar Square I was exhausted. The cold that had previously frozen my toes to numbness had begun to relent in the sunlight of the Square and the dull pain in my feet ebbed away. My face and throat were soar from the chanting that, no matter how hard I tried, I could not help but join in with. I wanted nothing more than to sit at the pavement and rest. Initially I had been suspicious of who I would meet at the protest. Would I come across a hostile mob ready to organise a coup against the White House? Or sim-
image John Lubbock, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license
tant criticisms out there. This was until I spoke to two girls who said that, for them, this protest was a way attacking Trump’s vanity, using his defensiveness and thinskin against him. By the end of the day I was content with, and even cheered on, the derogatory signs.
image flickr | MattysFlicks
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ply deluded optimists, believing that after a demonstration Trump would pack up his suitcase, call it a day and return to his golden tower? Though I didn’t speak to all 100,000 people who attended the march, this was not what I found. Instead I found positivity, solidarity and empowerment. People, of all genders, races, ages, abilities and sexualities, all coming together to support one another. To show to the children around them that what was happening didn’t need to be accepted, it didn’t need to be normalised, it needed to be fought against and opposed. On this cold, January morning I found myself among people who were attempting to find power in a world that they were feeling increasingly powerless in. To come together in an international warning against those who were attempting to undo the work of egalitarians. To warn Trump, and all like him, that they were not simply about to go away now. To shout out that the pussies that you grab are here Mr. Trump. And you will hear them Roar. Matilda Smith is a first-year history student and is the new sub-editor for Perspectives. Warwick Warwick Globalist Globalist | Spring | Autumn 20172016 | 29| 29
Perspectives image Bonzo McGrue, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license
Another Kind of Othering Anita Slater examines how Edward Said’s ‘other’ has grown to become a leviathan, and now has the potential to censor and obscure major global issues. The identity of the Other first entered academic dialogue towards the end of the 18th century by Friedrich Hegel. The conceptualisation refers to an essential part of human sub-consciousness that focuses on appreciating the Other as a means of self-defining. This definition has been expanded by a myriad of scholars, most famously Edward Said, who discussed the process of othering as a means of justifying colonial interests. Said comments on the use of culture as a means of creating a binary distinction between western imperial thought, and the Other, or the Orient. More recently, Frantz Fanon has discussed the Other in regards to the connotations of blackness and whiteness. Fanon comments on how the use of violence becomes legitimised and justified if a group is considered less human than another. I would like to expand on scholarly contributions to the concept of othering. However, I would like to suggest that within political, academic and social spheres, othering can result in not only censored views, but also in the overlooking of specific global issues. First, let’s appropriately start with the othered and arguably marginalised topic, women’s rights. It is useful to consider the discussion, and more specifically its desertion, surrounding female genital mutilation, a process by which all or parts of female genitalia are ceremoniously removed. Amidst the significant academic research surrounding the topic, one can see a problematic attitude. Melissa Parker’ 1995 article, ‘Rethinking Female Circumcision’, illustrates these difficulties. It is useful to look at the significance of the title’s vocabulary. The term ‘circumcision’ 30 | Spring 2017 | Warwick Globalist
promotes an abstention from considering cutting as mutilation or harmful to the female body and identity. This shows how Parker has power over the criteria for what is and isn’t appropriate language, and this devalues individual and collective experiences of suffering. Furthermore, the term ‘rethinking’ implies that there can be an alternative outlook to the practice of removing female genitalia. This does injustice to FGM sufferers, diminishing their experiences by suggesting that suffering can be legitimised if it happens outside of western territory. Not only does Parker’s attitude signify a quasi-scientific approach to anthropology as she abuses the ‘participant observer’ approach resulting in a simultaneous rejection of judgment, which ultimately is a judgement in itself. However, more insidiously it reflects a British imperial attitude. Said distinguishes between the characteristics of composure and distance that were assigned to western powers, as opposed to the characteristics of femininity, emotion and passion that were assigned to those outside of the western sphere. Parker focuses on the breadth of emotional and moral responses to FGM, and looks at these emotions from a critical perspective. In this way, she rejects responses that express compassion and solidarity, in favour of responses that appear non-invasive, but arguably are more interventionist than any enraged academic. Although long term goals and different attitudes are essential, Parker’s voice drowns out those of local activists such as ‘Daughters of Eve’ who have firsthand experience. Their global voices are othered in favour of an emotive diatribe that ironically attacks emotion.
One can further the discussion of the Other when considering Iran as a politically and culturally contested country. Starting with recent events in American politics, such as Trump’s divisive and fascistic border restriction aimed at specific ‘Muslim’ countries, one can consider the process of othering in a clear light. Trump attempting to warn the Iranian government that Obama was kinder than he will ever be (Telegraph, 2016), signifies already a desperate desire from the Trump administration, to create a barrier, both physical and political, between the ‘good’ west, and the Other or ‘bad’ rest of the world, making conflict justifiable. In particular, Trump others Iran and Iranian citizens because he chooses a country not involved in major conflict, which is arguably ‘the most secular country in the Middle East’. Trump and American government officials generalise Iran, reducing it to a definition without its permission. Whilst Saudi Arabia gets a free pass, despite its extensive track record of abusing human rights. Countries that have attempted to make western allies and maintain national peace are penalised because they have less to offer the west. However, it is essential to expand the argument further, not simplifying it to limit Trump as the only problem. In part, in academic and political circles Iran, is rarely celebrated for its secular progress, which is indicative of the academic elites’ desire to condemn Trump for his Christian bigotry, but not to condemn the issue of religious doctrine in and of itself. One can therefore see how Iran is othered, as it doesn’t belong in any extreme, it provides fewer resources with which to reward the
Faces of Nationalism west with than other ‘Muslim’ countries, but is also too secular to gain any significant attention in mainstream academia. A country, group or individual that does not fit an obvious dogma or stance, neither in the way that it self-defines, or in the way that it is viewed by all corners of the academic and political spectrum, is automatically rejected. Finally, we can turn to Hannah Arendt to make a contribution towards the idea of othering occurring on all sides of the political and academic spectrum. Firstly, Arendt was, ironically, a female political theorist who was othered on the basis of an assumed gender identity. Furthermore her ‘controversial’ views placed her in an ambiguous academic identity, which made it easier for her views to be treated as malleable and manipulated by other people, as she didn’t hold one particular viewpoint. In a recent Guardian article, Zoe Williams draws on Arendt to make a strikingly poignant point that the recent women’s protests, whilst essential and showing immense solidarity against a bigoted, sexist and racist representation of elite power, had little significant shortterm impact. Matching mass bigotry with mass resistance was, however, important. When looking through the lens of Arendt’s academic thought, one can see
image flickr | Gage Skidmore how simply using protest as a method of opposition, does not necessarily signify opposition. Protest in itself has become othered by political groups. Conservative thought has limitingly attempted to present any call for justice as politically incorrect. However, in other mainstream political arenas, assuming that protest in and of itself is enough, and glorifying its existence not its success might complicate its future achievements.
between groups and within ourselves. It is important not to other othering, to be aware of its ability to mould social and individual identities on the basis of imagined principles working in favour of a cemented elite, but also in part in favour of a social or academic norm. Anita Slater is a second-year sociology student and the new sub-editor for the Warwick Globalist’s Perspectives section.
Othering occurs in different forms, both
Warwick Warwick Globalist Globalist | Spring | Autumn 20172016 | 31 | 31
Our first issue of 2017, entitled Faces of Nationalism