Siraj Izhar's blog

The Republics of the Jungle

Published in Critical Legal Thinking. Read there.

The Jungle is not just a camp for the undocumented, it is also a social body and above all a political subject. The way it has evolved gives us insights into how the political problems that produced it can be resolved through the relationship between the Jungle and the Republic as subjects.

Darkness Visible

A New Years Eve at the Calais Jungle
with Black Sartre, White Fanon and friends.

Published in Critical Legal Thinking. Read There.

This is a recounting of a New Year’s eve night at the makeshift settlement known as the Calais ‘jungle’ that is the subject of so much media attention of late. A cold wet sludge of a jungle that’s home to some 6000 people, the migrants of Calais. The encounters over the course of the night blown through by wintry gusts offer another insight into why this jungle exists and the significance of its place in the contemporary colonial question.

Jungle the word

Post revised December 2016 following demolition of Jules Ferry

Reading the Jungle through the word that names it. A sort of double reading on one of today's most misunderstood subjects. In its evolution the jungle in Calais is uniquely a 21st century political entity that defies easy categorisation. It fuses improvised modes of existence and production of precarious architectures to parallel new globalised realities of human relations. The Jungle, symbolic and real, is many things but we can use its naming as a guide to lead an understanding of its multiple facets.

Shut it Down #YarlsWood

The migrant detention centre through new formations of resistance and solidarity
Yarl’s Wood 7 November 2015

On a wet windy November day in Bedfordshire, outside the notorious Yarl’s Wood detention centre, Judith an ex-detainee is on the mobile sound system.

My sisters on the inside
On the 8th August I was on the inside and you were on the outside.
If you can see the third window at the bottom, that was my room — Jud98
I wrote SOS, red lipstick on blue pillow case.

 

Published in Critical Legal Thinking Read there.

Revisiting Laing

Reflections on Laing in the 21st century
A reading group on the dissident psychiatrist at the Claremont Project
Islington London 2015

'Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world', a R. D. Laing quote from Rebecca Greenslade who brought together the reading group. 5 meetings in as many months made for an intriguing space for the differing ways of reading all our psychotic symptoms via Laing's writing.

One Piece at a Time

On work, theft and the age of automation
through a reading of Johnny Cash’s classic song 1976

Johnny Cash’s One Piece at a Time is a song about how he makes his own dream Cadillac by smuggling out all the parts from the factory over twenty years. It’s essentially about stealing from work but that’s not how it’s meant to be understood. As the lyrics go,
I’ve never considered myself a thief
But GM wouldn’t miss just one little piece
Especially if I strung it out over several years.

 

Published in Critical Legal Thinking Read there. Also at Digital Culturist #1 (republished).

10000

Published in the Occupied Times of London  OT26 pages 16-17  Read there
Exploring the printing houses of Fort, Mumbai, a theory post for OT.


I am in a small loft space, accessed by a ladder, carved out of a room used as printing press. The headroom is not there to stand up but perfect for sitting on the floor. By Mumbai’s standards, a generous workspace, relatively tranquil. A man on a cardboard rectangle completes the final stage of making company envelopes, folding them perfectly, so perfectly they look as if they are factory-made. The technique is faultless. He folds them, not in hundreds or thousands but in tens of thousands. In fact, the quota for each week is ten thousand, thus the title of this piece.

The Future will be handmade?

Artisans House, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai  February 2015
Re-published with contributed comments in lowimpact.org Read there


The Future will be handmade? In the information age, the question has an absurd ring. But I ask after listening to Ashoke Chatterjee at the Artisans House in Mumbai. As a long time President of the Crafts Council of India, Chatterjee tells us that 'The Future will be handmade'. The question mark for this post may be mine but Chatterjee is talking about reality as it is. Which is exactly what we overlook when thinking about the future usually because the people involved are invisible. 

The Hackney Cut

The changing ecologies of clean and dirty. As the river Lea bends and turns in through Hackney Marsh, it leaves a part of the commons known as East Marsh on the other side. This connects to the rest of the marsh through the White House Bridge named after the pub that once stood there before World War 1. With the barriers for the 2012 Olympics all this has been out of bounds. Now after 5 years they have gone and it's possible to cross the bridge again.
The White House Bridge is a pretty spot, hemmed in by trees and the gentle flow of water. There are no ghost traces of times bygone. 

Hackney Marsh Crow

Theories and interventions between Nature and Politics
(and what gets left out)

As the summer ends, the white chalk lines of football fields slowly take over much of Hackney Marsh. The goalposts become a part of the field of vision, like the rectangles from renaissance drawings with their two point perspective and vanishing points that once defined a world view. But now of course the perspective comes from modern space, the universal space that's an extension of all the tools we take for granted in contemporary life. This post is about the place of us and the crows on the marsh in these moving perspectives.

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