Talks 2018

11:00–11:50 Decolonising History: Voices and Silences

The legacies of colonialism are multiple and complicated. For full decolonization to even be possible, we need to make ourselves aware of the extent to which our worlds have been shaped by those legacies. At this stage, systematic recognition of the colonial roots of the modern world is very limited.

Starting from Michel Trouillot’s proposition that “any historical narrative is a particular bundle of silences”, this presentation looks at how and why those historical silences may be produced. It is assumed, through theoretical work by Veena Das, Audre Lorde and Tillie Olsen, that silences do not arise accidentally, but are fashioned and produced by particular kinds of ideological and social circumstances. Colonial states have a stake in narrating the history of the world in a way that silences indigenous struggles and the expropriating, genocidal nature of so-called developed modern countries.

The following questions are at the heart of this presentation: does everyone have a voice? If not, who gets to have one? What kind of power is necessary to allow oneself a voice and silence others’? How and why are certain histories and biogr aphies silenced? Do colonial subjects have a voice historically?

Amongst other things, I will mention the anti-slavery Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804 and the deportations of the Piute peoples in the 19th century (as narrated by Sarah Winnemucca).

Mattia Ventre is a student activist. As an undergraduate Social Anthropology student, Mattia co-designed and co-planned a ‘Decolonising Anthropology’ conference and other events. As a student activist, Mattia contributed to the recent occupation of the Gordon Aikman Lecture Theatre at Edinburgh University for 6 weeks, amongst other things.

12:00–12:50 Jin, Jîyan, Azadî: Women, Life, Freedom

In Kurdish the word life comes from the word women. As such, women equal life. As Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan once said “there can be no life without women’s liberation”. The science of women’s liberation in the Kurdish movement is one which has inspired not only Kurdish women but women all around the world to fight against hegemonic masculinity, fascism and barbarism on the frontline.

13:00–13:50 Making Sense of Anarchism

What is anarchism? Why are there so many different interpretations of anarchism? Is there a basic minimum on which all anarchists must agree – and if so what is it? This discussion looks at the different theoretical approaches to understanding anarchism, the necessary differences in anarchist movements identities and practices – and explores routes for principled solidarity that avoid assumptions about a single universal definition.

Benjamin Franks is the author of Rebel Alliances: The means and ends of contemporary anarchisms (AK Press), co-author of Environmental Ethics and Behaviour Change (Routledge) and co-editor of Anarchism: A conceptual Approach (Routledge).

14:00–14:50 Queering Anarchism: Gender, Sexuality and Struggle 101

This talk will give an introduction to the often misunderstood question of what gender is before taking a look at the role of gender and sexuality in society. It will then look at how gender underpins capitalism and what this means in practical terms for our struggles. If you’ve been wondering where all the recent interest in trans peeps came from or want to understand what TERFs are and why they need to be opposed then this is the place to be. Note that the talk will touch on topics of forced surgery, transmisogyny, removal of bodily autonomy, and general discrimination against women, intersex and transgender people, however it will not dwell on these subjects.

Tanya F has a lifetime of experience with both gender and sexuality but very little experience of writing about themselves in the third person. They are an active member of the Anarchist Federation, founded the Edinburgh Chapter of Action for Trans Health (Most Hated Manifesto award from Mumsnet 2017-18) and was part of the organising group for AFem2014, an International Anarcha-Feminist Conference. You can find their inactive blogs at Floaker and Anarcutie.

15:00–16:20 Fighting for Choice: Reproductive Rights in the UK and Ireland

Earlier this year, the repeal the 8th campaign was successful in removing the ban on abortion in Ireland, after a landslide victory in a public referendum. We will be joined by members of the Workers Solidarity Movement (WSM), Ireland’s largest anarchist organisation, who were heavily involved in the Repeal the 8th campaign.

We will discuss how anarchists were involved in organising and campaigning ahead of the referendum, and the challenges they faced working as part of a much broader, less radical coalition. As well as the recent victory, we will be talking about what comes next in the struggle for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy in Ireland and Scotland.

16:30–17:50 Homes for People, Not for Profit

Housing is an issue that affects everyone, but it affects some people more than others. Class, gender, ethnicity and immigration status can all impact access to housing, in addition to the well-publicised generational inequalities. In this session speakers from Living Rent, Edinburgh Student Housing Co-Op, and Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth will discuss responses to the housing crisis, and alternatives to housing for profit.