Portrait of a Lawn

Dhanya Baird | February 21, 2018
Picture in your mind’s eye the world that lies below a humble city-bee, an explorer striving to acquire food for the hive. In many places, this view would be made up of houses, large lengths of concrete, and, in my Canadian homeland and many other nations, millions upon millions of shining green patches of death – the modern lawn. For lawns, manicured, overly-watered, frequently coated with pesticides and herbicides, frequently lacking in flowers, must be as deserts to the bee, and flower beds as tiny oases.

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Egregious: Donald Trump as a Protagonist in a Great American Novel

Kiefer Holland | February 12, 2018
This rather bizarre article is, I suppose, what you’d call a “thought experiment,” the origins of which would, I’m sure, be of limited interest to the reader, and would certainly take too long to explain. All I believe it is necessary to know, is that the article is driven by the question “if Donald Trump was a fictional character in a Great American Novel, how would he be analysed?” To answer this question, I thought it would be interesting to do a piece of fictional literary analysis from the perspective of a critic fifteen years in the future, considering a book published around now, in which Donald Trump is the protagonist. The book is titled Egregious, the author’s name is, of course, A. Author.

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The Key Ingredient to the Comedy Cocktail

Christa M. Burgin | January 15, 2018
Empowerment can be conveyed in several forms. For many individuals, it thrusts and swings in the dance of music. For others, it cuts across paper in the rhythm of words. And for some, it ripples, and builds, and shakes through laughter. That is the calling of our comedians, for they have the ability to influence a vast number of people through media outlets, including Netflix specials, late-night television, and YouTube.

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Empty Words: The Politics of Performing Change

Anahit Behrouz | January 10, 2018
In an article for The Pool published the week before the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony, film critic Helen O’Hara questioned what a Hollywood awards ceremony would look like in a post-Weinstein world. O’Hara argued that although women only get 27% of the lines in the average Oscar-winning film, this year’s Golden Globes nominee list showed a progression towards a more equal awards ceremony, with numerous women and female-focused films up for consideration. As heartening as this may be, O’Hara did not delve into the question of how the mechanics of an awards ceremony in a post-Weinstein world would work, and what the optics would look like in an industry spending millions of dollars in self-congratulation during the same year that its ugly underbelly has been exposed.

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Please Leave the ‘Me’ Out of Your ‘Apology’

Mary A. Pura | November 22, 2017
In a speech given in 2004 at The University of Massachusetts Boston, the late Dr. Andrew Lazare, a leading authority on the psychology of shame, humiliation and apology, had this to say about the nature of apology:

“Apology is more than an acknowledgment of an offense together with an expression of remorse. It is an ongoing commitment by the offending party to change his or her behavior. It is a particular way of resolving conflicts other than by arguing over who is bigger and better.”

Unfortunately there has been a failure in our society to adopt this important formula, especially in the context of sexual harassment.

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Development Work as Another Form of Imperial Intervention?

Jule Lenzen | November 20, 2017
The Western World seems to be notorious in the way it constantly tries to ‘help’ so-called ‘under-developed countries’. Often, I can’t help thinking that this way of behaving is simply an echo of colonial motifs and imperialist ideas, still at work in our world today.
Therefore I ask: Is it right to send so-called development work to these countries in question? Is it not a way of internalizing the idea of a superior West? But on the other hand, is the West, exactly through its colonial intervention in those very countries it now sends development aid to, not responsible for the state these countries are in? Should it therefore not be held accountable for its actions in the past?

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Naming the actors of violence

Sonia García de Alba | November 6, 2017
The Las Vegas shooting earlier this October was among the latest of the increasingly violent outbreaks that have taken place in the United States. As we seek to comprehend the underlying motivations behind the escalation of violence, we face the issue of describing and characterising those who commit these acts.

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The Hostile Environment: Policing International Students

Vivek Santayana | October 23, 2017
International students have a lot of hoops to jump through. In keeping with its sponsorship requirements, the university has been monitoring my attendance to all my classes very strictly ever since I was an undergraduate. I am required to attend a census of students on a Tier 4 visa every couple of months. I have had to pay £700 upfront as a mandatory NHS surcharge as part of my visa application. Moreover, landlords in England are required to check the immigration status of their tenants prior to letting to them. This hasn’t yet been rolled out to Scotland officially yet, but that doesn’t stop letting agencies from asking me to give proof of my immigration status, arbitrarily charging me twice the stipulated deposit on a flat, or simply choosing to let to a British citizen instead to avoid any hassle. Starting January 2018, banks will start monitoring accounts and freezing those held by people whom the Home Office identifies as overstayers. All of this is in line with the Home Office’s policy to create a ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants in order to curb irregular migration.

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Responding to Charlottesville

Maria Elena Torres-Quevedo | 21st August 2017.

When I got to writing this article this week, I quickly realised I couldn’t write something that didn’t address the recent events in Charlottesville. However, I was also keenly aware that it was not necessarily my place nor within my capabilities to provide a response, beyond an expression of the horror, devastation, disappointment, and determination that so many have been expressing in the past few days. I know I am not alone in feeling helpless in the face of these events, and I know that many of us have been looking for ways to support the counter-protestors of Charlottesville, both in the work they have already done to fight white supremacists and neo-nazis, and in the work that they will doubtless continue to do in the future. I also know that many of us would like all the guidance we can get in helping us to understand what has been happening and how best to move forward. With this in mind, I have decided to use my platform this week for two purposes: providing links to organisations doing invaluable work that would greatly benefit from our financial support; and providing links to excellent, spark-inciting pieces written by those most affected by the rise of these racist movements and those who have been fighting this fight for a long time.

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