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Why you should do Cultural Geography

Flowers planted in used tear gas grenades form a memorial garden on the spot where, in a 2009 demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil'in, Bassem Abu Rahme was shot and killed with a high-velocity tear gas grenade fired by Israeli soldiers, Bil'in, West Bank, October 4, 2013. The grenades are left over from clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians during the weekly protest in Bil'in.

Flowers planted in used tear gas grenades form a memorial garden in the West Bank village of Bil’in, source here

With 2016 finally behind us, many of the New Year’s resolutions have been 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 junior doctors and other 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 12 months or so – there are many, many more. Continue reading


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Brexitrump, neoliberalism and microfascism

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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… Continue reading


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Activist Geographies Reading Group

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.
agrg

 


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50 days of (Meat-free) Winter for the Jungle

Those who know me well, know that I like to eat quite a lot. At university, a verb was coined in my honour; to ‘Oli’ something was to eat a substaintial amount of food very very quickly. The foods I eat are also overtly meaty. I thoroughly enjoy a good steak, burger, buckt of fried chicken, bacon sandwich, rack of ribs, meat feast pizza, MSG-ridden Chinese buffet, you get the idea. There is often a running joke that I would not even last 24 hours without consuming some semblance of meat.and even being married to a vegetarian for the best part of a decade has not persuaded me to change my ways…)

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Me being particularly disgusting

Yes, it’s a bad habit I know, but one that is part of my lifestyle, routine and even my identity. I enjoy eating meat, and to give it up would be frankly really annoying and irksome.

However, difficult times call for impossible things. We’ve all seen the horrific scenes in the media of the state of affairs in the Calais Jungle. As winter draws in, the conditions are only going to get worse. The site is already toxic, with human and animal waste, refuse and chemical detritus clogging the land. Deadly diseases are inevitable. Whatever your politics, nobody deserves to live like that, so we need to act.

There are myriad people, institutions, charities, faith groups and companies helping people in the Jungle on a daily basis. They organise food & clothes deliveries, build shelter, offer health services and may other basic human needs. But they need financial support.

So, starting the 5th November, I am attempting to raise £500 (in the first instance, beyond who knows…) by not eating anymore meat until Christmas Day (in 50 days time). So for every £10 received, I will not eat meat for another day. The link to the funding page is here: https://www.gofundme.com/olimould

So you can prolong my annoyance, but at the same time, prolong someone else’s hope. 

I will donate the money to Guildford People to People who are doing fabulous work in organising deliveries and food collections. So please consider helping them out yourselves too.

Yes it may seem trivial, mundane, easy and even a bit pithy, but I’m doing something that I consider to be challenging, so please support me as best you can!


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The Spectacle Strikes Back: Using protests for commercial gain

A morning ritual which I can’t seem to break out of is looking at the BBC’s ‘newspaper front page’ section (you know, just to make sure I start the day with a bit of outrage). Perusing the website this morning, I scrolled down to see the front page of the Metro. Nothing particularly outlandish today, but my eyes were immediately drawn to the banner at the bottom. The red hues, the circular faux-painted logo with a single character, a flag fluttering in the background; the unconscious, half-second response was that there was some anarchist, revolutionary protest group that had found the funds to broadcast in the national media. However, it was very soon apparent that this was far from the truth… Continue reading


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#SaveILF

Last Wednesday, a group of disabled people occupied the lobby of Parliament. This unprecedented action was taken in response to the immanent closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). The responsibility of financially supporting those with disabilities will pass to local councils, who are already struggling with national austerity policies. The real fear for those reliant on ILF is that there funding will be reduced, if not cut altogether. The protestors’ stand was a critical one, and want to explain why.

Notwithstanding the heavy-handed police presence that forcibly removed many of the disabled people from the Westminster lobby with unreasonable force that highlights the contempt at which vulnerable people are treated by authority, the policy of removing the ILF is one of the most regressive and undemocratic moves that the current government have engaged in. This is for the simple fact that disability itself is something that enables society to envision different ways of living, alternative modes of being and other means of moving forward. Let me explain why. Continue reading