London’s Glass War © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons
Stand on London Bridge on a sunny day and look East, you’ll see the towers of Canary Wharf glistening in the distance, the Shard looming to your right slicing into the sky, and the bloated curves of the Walkie Talkie shimmering like a newly blown glass vase. Walk further west along the South bank, and you’ll come across the ‘South Bank tower cluster’, with its centrepiece One Blackfriars jutting it’s chest out ostentatiously over the river. Further still, and you’ll reach Nine Elms, the biggest building site in the city. Scores of towers are flashing into the sky and construction has begun on the remarkably opulent ‘sky pool’, a 25m long, glass-bottomed swimming pool that hangs 10 storeys up.
These towers represent the most visible beacons of London’s continued development. They contain the moneymaking corporate machines that swell the city’s coffers but fuel the city’s rampant housing crisis, and the unaffordable luxury flats that are the symptom of the city’s hyper-gentrification. Yet there is another aspect to their representation that often goes under-recorded in the hyperbole around London’s gentrification problem – namely their most visible constituent material, glass. Read More
As the new Blade Runner film dissipates from the cinemas, I feel it acceptable to write about it in-depth, given that (hopefully) those of you interested in it, would have seen it by now.
*****warning MAJOR spoilers ahead***** Read More
On Sunday after a weekend visiting the old haunts in Manchester for the weekend (and spending a day watching Jimmy Anderson skittle out South Africa’s batting line up), I took a slow drive along Chapel Street as I made my way back to the motorway. I wanted to see my old employer, the University of Salford as well as the changes to the area that I’d heard about from ex-colleagues. I was taken aback by the raft of identikit housing, the beautified (and frankly much better) ‘shared space’ of the new road layout, and the new cladding on the previously tired looking Salford Crescent Station. But the main draw for me was my old watering hole, the Salford Crescent pub. However, after noticing a small white notice on the window of the pub, I stopped the car to take a closer look. “Closed until further notice”. It was a troubling sign, not least as it meant I couldn’t pop in to have another look around. Read More
The best scrolling beat ’em up: The ultimate neoliberal fight against urban decay?
The first computer game I can recall playing was Target Renegade on the Amstrad. Essentially, you would scroll through various urban landscapes, kicking and punching other men (and some women) along the way. You had to walk through car parks, urban streets and snooker clubs(?!) using nothing but your fists and feet (and the occasional appropriated weapon; a baseball bat, chain, mallet and yes, a snooker cue) to fight your way to the end-of-game boss. A tried and tested format which became one of the most important computer game genres of the 80s and 90s.
Of the many scrolling beat ’em ups that adorned our consoles over those years – Final Fight, Streets of Rage (1 and 2, 3 not so much) and even Two Crude Dudes – there was a similar trope being played out. A violent crime syndicate had taken over the city, and a group of dedicated, tough and very talented mercenaries took it upon themselves to clean up the streets, and perhaps rescue a loved one along the way. Like other cultural artefacts, do these games (and the genre more widely) reflect their contemporaneous social trends and anxieties, in this case, US inner-city decline of the 70s and 80s and the rise of neoliberalism and ‘enterprising self’ as the mode of social progression? Read More
Flowers planted in used tear gas grenades form a memorial garden in the West Bank village of Bil’in, source here
Given the state of the social, political and environmental turbulence in the world at the moment, many of us are keen to roll up our sleeves and get to work protesting the perceived injustices of more intense neoliberalism, creeping fascism, growing wealth and income inequalities, and further environmental degradation. Resistance to these large-scale ideological movements is in many, many forms; for example taking to the streets post-Trump’s election, the massive demonstrations in Seoul, industrial action from a host of public sector workers, organised campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, and a multitude of anti-gentrification campaigns; and these are just the few that have held my attention over the last few years – there are many, many more. Read More
Fascism arrives as your friend….?
Fascism has been catapulted into the mainstream narrative of late, thanks to the election of a certain Mr. Trump to the position of ‘leader of the free world’ (perhaps the most oxymoronical statement of them all). The comparisons to Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s have not gone unnoticed, and the genuflection of the current administration to the ‘smooth transfer of power’ that is enshrined in Constitutional dogma has many rightly angry at their capitulation. There are obvious parallels with Brexit, and ominous precursors to what Le Pen, Wilders and others are attempting in Europe. The commetariat articulating the rise of fascism have much to be concerned about.
Furthermore, many MANY column inches (and whatever the online equivalent is) have been given over to how Brexitrump is a reaction to years of injustice; how many people (not just the working class of course) voted in reaction to the tyranny of the status quo. Neoliberalism’s limits have been reached; it is now the ideological enemy, and nationalist popularism is the remedy.
These two narratives are perhaps seen as distinct; in so much as neoliberal globalisation is being replaced by a proto-fascist authoritarianism. However, as I peruse the seemingly endless op-eds and blog posts (yeah, sorry for adding another….) I find myself returning to the seminal work of the philosophers Deleuze and Guattari and their warnings of how fascism comes into being, and how it relates to those who have theorised neoliberalism more recently. Wait, let me explain… Read More
Organiser: Oli Mould (Royal Holloway, University of London)
The twenty-first century has been dominated by increasing ideological conflict. This has often manifested in ever-increasing political contestations, urban conflicts, religious fundamentalism, social polarisation and cultural marginalisation. The rise of far right and left political parties, the Arab Spring and the global Occupy movement, unfettered expansion of neoliberal philosophies, religious extremism, increasing wealth inequalities, homelessness; the symptoms of a multiplication in differing philosophical and ideological tendencies, all rubbing against each other within the every day.
Many of these phenomena are characterised by an articulation of rage.
For the first term of 2016/7, I will be convening an Activist Geographies Reading Group (AGRG) for undergraduates studying at Royal Holloway’s Geography Department – information re dates on the poster below.
Numbers are strictly limited, so if you want to come, I will be giving preference to students who can make ALL 4 sessions and who can demonstrate that they are invested in activism and activist scholarship more broadly. Do email me (or tweet me @olimould) if you want to know more.
I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the Strøm Music Festival and speak at their Strøm School on music and public space. I prepared some text which I didn’t actually end up using. But I thought it was worth sharing…