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Governing Life through Technology, Connectivity and Humanitarianism (GLiTCH)

In 2020-22, Dr Martina Tazzioli will be participating in an ESRC funded grant alongside researchers at the universities of Durham and Leeds: ‘Governing Life through Technology, Connectivity and Humanitarianism’ or GLiTCH. Here is the official description:

“GLITCH examines how financial and digital technologies are transforming refugee governance and refugee live. Debit cards have radically changed humanitarian aid, tech start-ups and volunteers have produced apps and maps for refugees. How do digital technologies and financial tools change the relationships between financial actors, humanitarian  agencies and refugees? Which forms of value and data extraction are generated ? Are refugees transformed into techno-users while they are forced to protracted confinement and displacement ?

GLITCH investigates the increasing role of financial actors in migration governance. By Focusing on a multi-sited research which will include Greece, Jordan, Lebanon and the UK, the project aims to reveal emerging transformations in humanitarian outreach and the new barriers produced by them. Building on participatory co-produced research, project will benefit refugees, volunteers and hosting communities.”

Book Launch: Rebel Politics

On 30 October 2019 the Department of Politics and International Relations launched Dr David Brenner’s new book Rebel Politics: A Political Sociology of Armed Struggle in Myanmar’s Borderlands with a panel discussion on the changing dynamics of the civil war in Myanmar, one of the most entrenched armed conflicts in the world.

people sitting at a desk talking

Book launch of Rebel Politics

Based on long-term research inside the Kachin and Karen rebellions, Rebel Politics analyses the relations between rebel leaders, their rank-and-file, and local communities in the context of political and geopolitical transformations in Myanmar’s borderlands. Using ethnographic methods and social theory, it provides an insight into the hidden social dynamics of political violence, ethnic conflict and rebel governance. In doing so, the book explains how revolutionary elites capture and lose legitimacy within their own movements and how the internal politics of rebel movements drive wider dynamics of war and peace.

The book launch featured a roundtable discussion with David Brenner (Goldsmiths), Kai Htang Lashi (Kachin National Organisation), Lee Jones (Queen Mary University of London), and Shona Loong (University of Oxford). It was chaired by Sanjay Seth (Goldsmiths).

More information about Rebel Politics can be found here: https://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/9781501740091/rebel-politics/

 

Interview with Dr Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi

Book cover

Revolution and Its Discontents, by Dr Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi

Recently arrived lecturer in Comparative Political Theory, Dr Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, has given an interview to e-zine Jadaliyya about his new book, Revolution and its Discontents: Political Thought and Reform in Iran (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019). You can find the interview here: https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/39938

Book Launch for Dr Rachel Ibreck

On 10 October, staff and students joined Dr Rachel Ibreck, lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Goldsmiths to celebrate the launch of her book – South Sudan’s Injustice System: Law and Activism on the Frontline – with a panel discussion at SOAS, University of London. The panel included Benjamin Avelino (South Sudanese community leadership UK in Europe), Matt Benson (Conflict Research Programme, LSE), and Prof. Alex de Waal (World Peace Foundation, Tufts University), and was chaired by Mawan Muortat (South Sudan political analyst).
people sitting at a desk

Rachel Ibreck (centre) talking at her book launch at SOAS

Rachel’s book argues that legality matters intensely in South Sudan, the world’s newest ‘fragile’ state. Plural and competing laws and authorities have governed throughout the atrocious civil war since 2013. South Sudanese people have been subjugated by legal practices, with colonial and authoritarian roots. Yet in the midst of a protracted violent conflict, people still turn to accessible ‘customary’ courts, and South Sudanese legal activists strive to make a more humane legal order from below, using social networks and cultural resources to respond to injustices. The struggles in courts and prisons are revealing about the power of law, and the possibilities for transforming violent conflict.  More information on the book can be found here:

Migration, Technology & Postcolonial Genealogies

A seminar series organised by Dr Martina Tazzioli, with the support of the Centre for Postcolonial Studies.

Speakers for academic year 2019/2020:

Dr.Martin Lemberg-Pedersen (Aalborg University, November 20)

Prof. Engin Isin (Queen Mary University, December 9)

Prof. Claudia Aradau (King’s College, Spring term)

Prof. Sandro Mezzadra (University of Bologna, Spring term)

Prof. Nicholas De Genova (University of Houston, Spring term)

This seminar series centres on migration and technologies, drawing attention to the colonial and postcolonial genealogies of the current governmentality assemblages. In particular, it aims at fostering a debate about the mutual entanglements between the racialisation of some individuals as “migrants” and the political technologies used for governing unruly mobilities. The seminar series is characterised by an interdisciplinary approach with the purpose of challenging self-contained understanding of migration, and situating it within broader political, historical and theoretical analyses of bordering and racialising mechanisms. At the same time, it critically engages with technology, the technologisation of border security and datafication of mobility by highlighting continuities and differences with colonial modes of governmentality.

 

Disability and Political Representation

According to the Department of Work and Pension’s most recent Family Resource Survey, 13.9 million people in the UK reported a disability. This works out at around 22% of the UK population, a percentage which is likely to rise over the next few years due to increased life expectancy. Despite constituting such a significant group, they are under-represented across our political legislatures at both the local and national levels.

Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

The under-representation of disabled people in politics has detrimental consequences for the health of our democracy. In particular, it has the potential to affect the ways in which issues and interests of particular importance to disabled people are represented. When specific groups are under-represented, there is the danger that their voices and perspectives are not included. Indeed, research has shown that disabled people perceive the political system as less responsive to their demands.

Recognising that disabled people face particular types of obstacles in the political recruitment process, and also that the issue itself receives little academic or political attention, the Minister for Women and Equalities has commissioned us — Dr Elizabeth Evans (Goldsmiths, PIR) and Dr Stefanie Reher (University of Strathclyde) — to study the barriers to elected office. By interviewing candidates, activists and elected politicians across all parties, as well as Independents, our objective is to create a list of recommendations on how to tackle and reduce those barriers for relevant stakeholders to discuss, with the ultimate aim of increasing the number of disabled politicians.

Of course, disabled people are not a homogenous group. There are a significant range of impairments that affect people’s opportunities in a variety of ways, including: financial costs; accessibility; the oftentimes aggressive and ‘yah-boo’ nature of Westminster politics; and the demands of election campaigning. The complexity of disability as a category means that there will not be one single explanation for why disabled people are under-represented, nor will there be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to addressing patterns of under-representation.

The issue of disabled people’s political representation has received little attention beyond the UK. This means that we cannot necessarily learn from ‘best practice’ in similar systems of democracy. Indeed, cases in which active measures have been taken to address the representation of disabled people typically occur in post-conflict societies, in which the sudden and significant increase in the number of disabled people required an urgent political solution. For instance, Uganda have introduced reserved seats for disabled people, a strategy that is unlikely to work in the UK system.

Our research is therefore intended to shine a light on the range of barriers experienced by disabled people with a range of impairments in the UK, in order to create a list of appropriate solutions based on the experiences and views of disabled people who are politically engaged. Our findings will be published in a report for the Government Equalities Office, which will be made available to all relevant stakeholders and the public.

A Conversation Connecting Racism and Migration

Image from cover of GJSS

Illustration by Raquel Durán

Peter Rees, PhD researcher in PIR working on citizenship, has recently guest co-edited an issue of the Graduate Journal of Social Science under title of ‘A Conversation Connecting Racism and Migration: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives’: which can be found at http://gjss.org/15/01. The editors of the issue are all doctoral researchers and participants in the PhD Migration Reading Group at Goldsmiths. The issue explores, from a variety of angles, the relation between race and migration in contemporary experience and emerges from a symposium held at Goldsmiths in 2017.

Development and Ethnic Conflict in Myanmar

Soldiers of the Karen National Liberation Army attend the opening ceremony of the Salween Peace Park, a community-led conservation project that is conceptualised as a revolutionary alternative to state-led development in Myanmar’s war-torn borderlands (Photo: David Brenner)

Myanmar is home to the world’s longest running civil war. In the present day, more than two dozen ethnonational rebel movements are fighting for greater autonomy or secession in Myanmar’s far-flung mountains and forests bordering Thailand, China and India. At the same time, the country’s restive peripheries are being transformed by powerful economic forces. These include China’s Belt and Road Initiative, India’s Look East Policy, and the Asian Highway Network of the Asian Development Bank. These projects seek to develop large infrastructure across Myanmar’s borderlands to connect the region’s emerging markets (China, India and Mainland Southeast Asia). Their architects believe that economic development will not only increase prosperity in the region but also bring an end to decades-long conflict and violence. As roads and bridges turn peripheral battlefields into hubs of regional economic integration, revolutionary movements resisting state territorialisation seem like waning relics from a bygone era. Escalating violence in Myanmar’s borderlands, however, suggests otherwise.

To investigate the effects of economic development on ethnic conflict in Myanmar, Dr David Brenner received funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund to understand a) the ways in which infrastructure development affects ethno-national conflict; and b) how the shrinking of material space in peripheral borderlands changes practices of resistance. In December 2018 Brenner conducted fieldwork on the Salween Peace Park, a community-led conservation project located deep inside the liberated areas of Myanmar’s oldest ethno-national rebel movement: the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army. Initiated and managed by community-based organisations and the Karen revolution, the Peace Park serves as a radical world-making alternative to securitised, state-led development. Importantly, the research project has developed in close cooperation with three local civil society organisations of the Kachin, Karen and Naga communities: the Kachinland Research Centre, the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network and Resource Rights for the Indigenous People. In January 2019, Brenner met with activist researchers from all three organisations for a workshop in Yangon to compare and discuss the relationship between conflict, development and resistance in the Chinese, Thai and Indian borderlands with Myanmar. In March 2019 the project partners also organised a training workshop in GPS technology to support civil society advocacy for instance by mapping land ownership of conflict-affected communities. Together with Dan Seng Lawn from Kachinland Research Centre, Brenner will present initial findings of the project at the International Convention of Asia Scholars in July 2019 in Leiden.

Dr David Brenner is Lecturer in International Relations at Goldsmiths’ Department of Politics and International Relations. His first book Rebel Politics: A Political Sociology of Armed Struggle in Myanmar’s Borderlands is forthcoming with Cornell University Press in October 2019. You can follow his research on Twitter @DavBrenner.

Promotions 2019

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

We are pleased to announce that a number of our staff have been promoted this year. Congratulations to Elizabeth Evans and Simon Griffiths who have been promoted to Reader; and to Will Davies, Jasna Dragovic-Soso and to Rajyashree Pandey who have each been promoted to Professor.