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Insurgent Possibilities looks at the George Floyd uprising using the theory of the Black Radical Tradition and Black Marxism. Part of a global wave of rebellions against the police, inequality, and the state, the 2020 uprising opened up a new chapter in the revolutionary history of the proletariat. Erupting in Minneapolis in late May, the uprising spread across the United States. Over the course of the next few months, dozens of police stations were attacked, hundreds of cop cars were burned, and thousands of stores in downtown urban centers were looted. The Black proletariat led the charge, but other racialized proletarians joined the fight, demonstrating new possibilities for multi-racial struggle. At the same time, this uprising was contained and repressed by a Black led counterinsurgency that played a definitive role in neutralizing the revolutionary potentials of the movement. Furthermore, there were clear limits to the uprising when it came to gender. When it was time to rebel for Breonna Taylor, few were willing to fight as hard as they had for George Floyd. These and other uncomfortable truths are considered in the opening text, “Race, Class, and Gender in the 2020 Uprising.” Aside from wrestling with these contradictions, Insurgent Possibilities documents the Walter Wallace Jr. rebellion in Philadelphia, where the Black proletariat refined the tactic of looting by car, one of the greatest tactical innovations of the uprising. “Cars, Riots, and Black Liberation” is a first hand reflection on this phenomenon. Insurgent Possibilities also argues that the tensions and contours of the 2020 riots indicate the unique relationship between civil war and revolution that is so pronounced in the United States. Building off of the analysis set out in earlier texts, “Prelude to a New Civil War” traces the mounting hostilities of the uprising back to the unfinished business of the first US Civil War. The last text in the collection, “Fire on Main Street,” looks at how the uprising played out in small cities and suburbs throughout the country, focusing on the strategic implications that these peripheral areas pose for questions of insurrection and revolution.
People Resisting Xenophobic Violence: Understanding popular political responses to the South African identitarian crisis
The book is concerned with popular responses to the crisis of xenophobic violence in South Africa. It argues, that xenophobia itself is not primarily a reaction to poverty, inequality, or any other set of social conditions. Rather, xenophobia must be considered to be a collective political discourse which has arisen in post-apartheid South Africa from an exclusionary conception of state nationalism. Where this work may be distinguished from the majority of research on xenophobia in South Africa is in the fact that its particular focus is on instances where ‘ordinary’ South Africans have challenged and resisted xenophobic violence in their communities through collective political mobilisation. I suggest that these sites of resistance deserve careful consideration in their own right. I argue that they may demonstrate a subjective break with the oppressive politics of state nationalism through the affirmation of alternative political conceptions. Drawing on the political theory of Sylvain Lazarus, and his principal thesis that people are capable of thinking politics in ways which can subjectively think beyond the social and the extant (underscored by his political and methodological axiom, people think), the book will argue that these sites of resistance show that people – and especially those who are considered to be marginalised from the domain of legitimate politics – can and do think politically, and it is in the thought of people that new and potentially emancipatory visions of politics may emerge.
The first chapter of the book sets out empirically the rise of xenophobia in post-apartheid South Africa, with a focus on the ways in which state politics and practices have produced a hegemonic xenophobic discourse in the country. Chapter Two situates this discussion within a review of the academic literature, arguing that sociological explanations are by themselves unable to account for the phenomenon.
Chapter Three discusses three sites in which xenophobia has been effectively contested through collective political mobilisation: by Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Merafong Demarcation Forum (MDF) in Guateng in 2008, and in the Unemployed people’s Movement (UPM) in Grahamstown (now Makhanda) in 2015 (where I conducted fieldwork over a year). It is argued that the presence of collective political organisation before the outbreak of xenophobic violence provided the conditions for an effective challenge to xenophobic politics to occur.
Chapter Four is largely theoretical, drawing primarily on the work of Sylvain Lazarus, as well as Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière. The chapter argues that it is essential to insist on politics as subjective, as it is only in the thought of people that emancipatory modes of politics which exceed socially located interests may emerge and be constituted through collective mobilisation into political praxis.
Chapter Five sets out the methodological approach to my own research with members of the Unemployed People’s Movement in Grahamstown. The aim of the approach is to aid in the investigation of what Sylvain Lazarus has called ‘subjective singularities’, or specific forms of thinking which characterize a political sequence. Put simply, the approach endeavours to try to understand people’s thinking on its own terms, through the categories and idioms which are specific to that subjective singularity, and which cannot be sociologically reduced to external explanatory referents such as class, race, power, or identity. The aim is to be able to identify and elucidate the specific prescriptive thought which may emerge as people think and articulate their own struggles.
Chapter Six sets out my discussions with 18 UPM activists. Based on the methodological approach indicated above, the purpose of this empirical chapter was not to provide any form of ethnography or sociology of the movement, but to try and elucidate, through the activists’ own categories, the subjective singularity which underpinned the movement’s anti-xenophobic politics during a particular sequence. The aim is not to extrapolate from the activists’ statements concepts, cases or types which might have broader application for the study of xenophobia generally, but only to try to understand and elucidate the forms of thinking which characterised this particular sequence in its subjective singularity. These forms of thinking, I argue, are notable and important in their own right.
[Note: Additional material from the interviews with the UPM members, which I was not able to include in the MA thesis, will be incorporated into the book manuscript to extend and develop the investigation into the political thinking of UPM members and to delineate the character of the political sequence].
The book explores the challenges Palestinian filmmakers confront to develop a cinema that gives expression to the national narrative. It is based on collaborative research involving Film Lab Palestine, Sheffield Palestine Cultural Exchange and Sheffield Hallam University. We explore the political, economic and cultural contexts that impact on Palestinian film production and some of the barriers encountered in profiling and screening Palestinian films, to shed light on the complex terrain that is traversed to sustain and develop a film industry and film culture in historic Palestine and beyond.
Table of contents
The struggle to develop a national cinema
The experience of Filmlab Palestine
Visualising the Palestinian past
Roadblocks, borders and hostile environments
The screening and reception of Palestinian films
The Palestinian short film
Appendix 1: Cinema of the Palestinian Revolution
Appendix 2: 70 Years of Nakba: Audience response
Appendix 3: Love and Desire in Palestine: Audience response
Appendix 4: Selection of leaflets from film screenings
About the authors
Praise for Struggling to be seen
To so nimbly and elegantly traverse Palestinian time and space is itself a defiance of the occupation’s brutally enforced barriers. The authors’ unstintingly political examination of Palestinian cinema has much to offer both those in the know and readers new to this extraordinary body of work. — Kay Dickinson, Professor, Film Studies, Concordia University
Working extensively through primary sources, conducting research and interviews across generations of Palestinian filmmakers, the authors offer the reader an ambitious and wide-ranging essay which charts the development of a national Palestinian cinema, from an historical and critical perspective. By exploring the constellation of political, social and aesthetic concerns that shape this cinema, this authors challenge us to rethink the stakes behind the contemporary development of a Palestinian cinema industry, its audience reception, in historic Palestine and beyond.— Samia Labidi, cultural programmer & artistic curator
Illuminating and compelling, Struggling to be Seen lays bare the historical, enduring but also emerging (colonial and neocolonial) obstacles to the development of a film industry and film culture within the West Bank and Gaza. Though familiarly sobering (in its re-confirmation of the scale of injustice facing Palestinians), the book provides up-to-the-moment and an interdisciplinary account that provides rich, fresh terrain that reveals new and exciting progressions within Palestinian film culture. —Michele Aaron, Reader in Film and Television, University of Warwick, author of Death and the Moving Image: Ideology, Iconography and I (Edinburgh Univer- sity Press, 2014) Director, Screening Rights Film Festival.
Struggling to be Seen is a must read for those who are interested in under- standing the multilayered challenges that face Palestinian cinematography from its production phase to its screening phase. The book is a short read which takes the readers through the different stages which shaped the Palestinian film making enterprise. Struggling to be Seen shows the restrictions that Palestinian filmmakers face from the initial stages to funding and screening. The authors tell a story of a people whose sense of self-reflection is suppressed by the Israeli oppressive machine which con- stantly works at erasing the Palestinian peoplehood, detaching it from its past.— Nahed Habiballah, Assistant Professor and member of the Board of Directors of Policy and Conflict Resolution Studies Center, Arab American University, Ramallah, Palestine
We inhabit extraordinary times: times in which we are acutely aware of the intensity of what revolutionary thinker Frantz Fanon called “the glare of history’s floodlights.” The velocity and scale at which the revolt against police murder that began in Minnesota after the death of George Floyd on May 25th and moved throughout the US, and then other parts of the world, was astonishing. It was impossible to predict, but then, in retrospect, it is George Floyd’s death becomes a nodal point: calling for action as well as rethinking and self-clarification. Thinking about this moment with the world revolutionary Frantz Fanon, we need to be aware of continuities and discontinuities — or, as he puts it, opacities — between the ages, his and ours. Fanon is always speaking to us, but often in ways we cannot hear. We have to work to listen to him and to understand the new contexts and meanings in relative opacity. It is this constant dialogue that helps illuminate the present and enable ongoing fidelity to Fanon’s call in the conclusion of The Wretched of the Earth the necessity to work out new concepts to confront one of Fanon’s greatest concerns, the betrayal of the revolutionary movement. In this pamphlet we consider how Fanon’s idea of liberation is connected with “the rationality of revolt.” The practice of engaging Fanon not only with revolt but with the reason or rationality of revolt connects with Fanon’s idea of how this liberated humanity is a product of a new consciousness of collectivity open to rethink everything.
Revolución Rinky-Dink: Yendo Más Allá del Capitalismo Negando Consentimiento, y Promoviendo Construcciones Creativas y Destrucciones Creativas
Este panfleto aborda la pregunta: ¿cómo podemos pasar de A a B, del capitalismo al poscapitalismo? La revolución de Rinky-dink involucra acciones e inacciones que son fáciles, seguras, mundanas, sin glamour y factibles dentro de la vida de cada persona.
Howard Waitzkin presenta una intervención clara y directa para el cambio revolucionario en el sistema económico capitalista global. Cubre mucho terreno, con sofisticación, mientras mantiene la discusión en tierra. Su enfoque en las formas de facilitar un desafío al capital y construir una mayor transformación revolucionaria es crucial en esta coyuntura histórica. Esta discusión sobre construcciones creativas y destrucciones creativas es particularmente útil.
— Brett Clark, profesor de sociología de la Universidad de Utah y autor De El Robo De La Naturaleza: Capitalismo Y Grieta Ecológica, The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and Ecological Rift en inglés.
El fin del capitalismo es posible. Waitzkin nos lleva un paso más allá en el proceso creativo para esta transformación. A través de ejemplos específicos de grupos organizados dentro de los Estados Unidos y en el extranjero, este trabajo constituye una guía práctica para todos. Waitzkin alienta nuestra creatividad para actos organizados y seguros además de omisiones para trascender el capitalismo.
— Nylca J. Munoz Sosa, abogada, líder de salud pública y activista centrada en la justicia sanitaria y la descolonización en Puerto Rico.