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Passion and politics in the English Defence League

‘Loud and proud’: Politics and passion in the English Defence League is a study of grassroots activism in what is widely considered to be a violent Islamophobic and racist organisation.

The book uses interviews, informal conversations and extended observation at EDL events to critically reflect on the gap between the movement’s public image and activists’ own understandings of it. It details how activists construct the EDL, and themselves, as ‘not racist, not violent, just no longer silent’ inter alia through the exclusion of Muslims as a possible object of racism on the grounds that they are a religiously not racially defined group. In contrast activists perceive themselves to be ‘second-class citizens’, disadvantaged and discriminated by a ‘two-tier’ justice system that privileges the rights of ‘others’. This failure to recognise themselves as a privileged white majority explains why ostensibly intimidating EDL street demonstrations marked by racist chanting and nationalistic flag waving are understood by activists as standing ‘loud and proud’; the only way of ‘being heard’ in a political system governed by a politics of silencing.

Unlike most studies of ‘far right’ movements, this book focuses not on the EDL as an organisation – its origins, ideology, strategic repertoire and effectiveness – but on the individuals who constitute the movement. Its ethnographic approach challenges stereotypes and allows insight into the emotional as well as political dimension of activism. At the same time, the book recognises and discusses the complex political and ethical issues of conducting close-up social research with ‘distasteful’ groups.

Mobilising affect in feminist, queer and anti-racist media cultures

The power of vulnerability interrogates the new language of vulnerability that has emerged in feminist, queer and anti-racist debates about the production, use and meanings of media. The book investigates the historical legacies and contemporary forms and effects of this language. In today’s media culture, traumatic first-person or group narratives have popular currency, mobilising affect from compassion to rage to gain cultural visibility and political advantage. In this context, vulnerability becomes a kind of capital, a resource or an asset that can and has been appropriated for various groups and purposes in public discourses, activism as well as cultural institutions. Thus, politics of representation translates into politics of affect, and the question about whose vulnerability counts as socially and culturally legible and acknowledged. The contributors of the book examine how vulnerability has become a battleground; how affect and vulnerability have turned into a politicised language for not only addressing but also obscuring asymmetries of power; and how media activism and state policies address so-called vulnerable groups. While the contributors investigate the political potential as well as the constraints of vulnerability for feminist, queer and antiracist criticism, they also focus on the forms of agency and participation vulnerability can offer.

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Essays on Modern American Literature
Author: David Herd

Modern American literature began with a statement of enthusiasm from Emerson's writing in Nature. 'Enthusiasm', in Emerson, is a knowing word. Sometimes its use is as description, invariably approving, of a historic form of religious experience. Socrates' meaning of enthusiasm, and the image of the enthusiast it throws up, is crucial to this book. The book is a portrait of the writer as an enthusiast, where the portrait, as will become clear, carries more than a hint of polemic. It is about the transmission of literature, showing various writers taking responsibility for that transmission, whether within in their writing or in their cultural activism. Henry David Thoreau's Walden is an enthusiastic book. It is where enthusiasm works both in Immanuel Kant's sense of the unbridled self, and in William Penn's sense of the 'nearer' testament, and in Thoreau's own sense of supernatural serenity. Establishing Ezra Pound's enthusiasm is a fraught and complicated business. Marianne Moore composed poems patiently, sometimes over several years. She is a poet of things, as isolated things - jewels, curios, familiar and exotic animals, common and rare species of plant - are often the ostensible subjects of her poems. Homage to Frank O'Hara is a necessary book, because the sum of his aesthetic was to be found not just in his writing, but also in his actions to which only friends and contemporaries could testify. An enthusiastic reading of James Schuyler brings to the fore pleasure, the sheer pleasure that can come of combining, or mouthing, or transcribing.

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Paradoxes of hierarchy and authority in the squatters movement in Amsterdam
Author: Nazima Kadir

This book is an ethnographic study of the internal dynamics of a subcultural community that defines itself as a social movement. While the majority of scholarly studies on this movement focus on its official face, on its front stage, this book concerns itself with the ideological and practical paradoxes at work within the micro-social dynamics of the backstage, an area that has so far been neglected in social movement studies. The central question is how hierarchy and authority function in a social movement subculture that disavows such concepts. The squatters’ movement, which defines itself primarily as anti-hierarchical and anti-authoritarian, is profoundly structured by the unresolved and perpetual contradiction between both public disavowal and simultaneous maintenance of hierarchy and authority within the movement. This study analyzes how this contradiction is then reproduced in different micro-social interactions, examining the methods by which people negotiate minute details of their daily lives as squatter activists in the face of a funhouse mirror of ideological expectations reflecting values from within the squatter community, that, in turn, often refract mainstream, middle class norms.

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Everyday trajectories of activism
Hilary Pilkington

3 Doing the hokey-cokey: everyday trajectories of activism Social movements do not consist of ‘one hero, accompanied by an undifferentiated crowd’ (Castells, 2012: 12) but of rounded individuals whose diverse trajectories in and out of activism are embedded in personal life stories. These individuals are neither born nor aggressively recruited into EDL activism. They are neither duped by a charismatic leader nor spring from the earth as authentic, working-class anti-heroes. Their trajectories in and out of the movement are prosaic rather than heroic. This

in Loud and proud
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Piercing the politics of silencing
Hilary Pilkington

activists. In this chapter, that experience is shown to be one of a politics of silencing in which attempts to articulate grievances are met with accusations of racism and respondents learn to ‘keep your mouth shut’. This constraint on political space compounds a wider disengagement from the formal political sphere and a denial of the ‘political’ nature of activism. Such disengagement, it is argued here, is not rooted in a traditional far right, anti-democratic ideology, however, but in an experientially based scepticism about the functioning of contemporary formal

in Loud and proud
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Emotion, affect and the meaning of activism
Hilary Pilkington

7 ‘One big family’: emotion, affect and the meaning of activism Following discussion of the ideological dimensions of EDL activism (Chapters 4 and 5) and of the particular ‘injustice frame’ (Jasper, 1998: 398) of ‘second-class citizens’ underpinning the rationalised meanings attached to EDL activism (Chapter 6), attention turns here to the emotional and affective dimensions of activism. The recent rehabilitation of ‘the emotional’ in the field of social movement studies has led to a recognition that emotionality does not equate to irrationality (1998: 398) and

in Loud and proud
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Transgressing the cordon sanitaire: understanding the English Defence League as a social movement
Hilary Pilkington

introductory chapter sets out an approach to understanding activism in the English Defence League (EDL) from within social movement studies. It places the EDL alongside populist radical right rather than classic ‘far right’ movements on the political spectrum and outlines a provisional rationale for characterising it as an anti-Islamist movement. Prefacing the theoretical discussion in subsequent chapters of the book, it contextualises claims by the EDL that the organisation is ‘not racist’ but ‘against militant Islam’ within contemporary theories of ‘race’ and racism and in

in Loud and proud
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Public anger in research (and social media)
Hannah Jones, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gargi Bhattacharyya, William Davies, Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Emma Jackson, and Roiyah Saltus

Living Research Five: Public anger in research (and social media) At our end-of-project conference, one participant said that the event had made her think that ‘when outraged by something’ she would try to research it; ‘combine activism with academia and your sociological imagination’. Strikingly, this comment captured much of what brought us together to develop the research discussed in this book. In this section, we

in Go home?
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Passion and politics
Hilary Pilkington

Conclusion: passion and politics This book is political. Not because it started with an explicit commitment to a particular political project but because it did not. Not because the author took the position of ‘activist-scholar’, but because the ‘ugly’ politics of the movement studied rendered such a role inappropriate. But must research on activism always take the form also of political action? If so, do we not exclude the possibility of close-up research of those political causes and movements that we find, personally, most difficult to comprehend and

in Loud and proud