Category Archives: race

Remember Oluwale 45th Anniversary incl #VirtualMigrants performance – Sat 3rd May 2014

45 years since David was found dead in the River Aire. Please help promote and come to our fundraiser for a memorial garden next saturday at Left Bank Leeds 3rd May with Virtual Migrants, Angel Of Youths, DJ SaIQa, Nigerian Community Leeds, street food, stalls, raffle + more.

Remember Oluwale 45th Anniversary Fundraiser – Saturday 3rd May 2014

http://www.rememberoluwale.org/david-oluwale/fundraiser-saturday-3rd-may-2014/

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Committed To Represent exhibition at GMIAU’s AGM

The Committed To Represent exhibition by Virtual Migrants will be shown at the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday 25th January 2014.  Created by Kooj Chuhan with Ursula Sharma (GMIAU) along with photography by Mazaher, this exhibition celebrates the critical work of legal caseworkers in the difficult lives of refugees.  This from GMIAU’s news-mail:

GMIAU AGM and Public Meeting Saturday 25th January 2014 2.30pm
F
riends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester M2 5NS (behind Central Library)
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Our exhibition ‘Committed To Represent’ will be displayed

A number of invited speakers will contribute to the discussions.

Drinks and light refreshments will be available.

We are in very turbulent times. During the past 12 months legal aid has been removed for most immigration cases and the government is ‘consulting’ on the next set of cuts which will include further restrictions on access to the law, including judicial review and appeals, and the insidious ‘residency test’. The Immigration Bill has been introduced and if it get passed as it is it will include duties on landlords and banks to check the immigration status of potential tenants and customers. Immigration will once again be top of the political agenda in the run up to general election in 2015 and none of the public debate about immigration is positive. This makes it even more difficult for the people that GMIAU is here to support and represent – not just in a legal sense but also to stand up against the injustice and discrimination that is the reality of many peoples day to day lives.

We need our supporters more than ever. We need to work together to steer the organisation through these challenging times, to make sure not only that we survive but that we’re stronger and louder than before in our defence of access to justice and human rights. Please come and join us on the 25th need to be doing over the next year and beyond to make sure we stay at the forefront of creating a better and more positive contribution to the lives of people in the North West who need immigration legal advice and representation .

The cuddlification of Black revolutionaries

To erase the political bedrock of people’s beliefs from the telling of their history is to distort their life’s work.

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This is a CROSS-POST by Jenny Bourne, Institute of Race Relations; the original is at:
http://www.irr.org.uk/news/the-cuddlification-of-black-revolutionaries/

The rewriting of history and reputation to chime with what the white-media-middle-class is ‘comfortable’ with does not just apply to Nelson Mandela,[1] it has for some years been applied in this country to Black revolutionary Claudia Jones too. After an almost complete neglect of her reputation from her solitary death in 1964 to Buzz Johnson’s 1984 book, I think of my mother: notes on the life and times of Claudia Jones, she has gradually become better known, her history reclaimed[2] and her contribution acknowledged beyond Britain’s black community. There are now two plaques commemorating her in London, in 2008 she made it onto a postage stamp (admittedly for Black History Month) and now it is rumoured that a biopic is under discussion by film executives. But the more revered and mainstreamed she has become, the more her genuine political talents and commitments have been slowly revised, cleansed and repackaged to meet contemporary fads.

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Claudia Jones was a staunch revolutionary. Her Communism, which for the most part, bound her (as it did her comrades) to following the Soviet line, informed everything she believed – her internationalism, her anti-colonialism, her stand against ‘colour bar’, her view that (when she became a Maoist) ‘women held up half the sky’ and so on. Read her speeches, her articles in the West Indian Gazette; examine the company she kept, such as that of partner Abhimanyu Manchanda. Under McCarthyism she was deported from the USA in 1955 and arrived in Britain because Trinidad and Tobago, her homeland, then under British rule, did not want her back.

To provide this backdrop is not, in any way, to detract from her tenacity and her achievements but rather to set them in their right context. For just as Mandela is now celebrated for his forgiveness and generosity of spirit – in a Christian saintly tradition – Claudia Jones, too, is celebrated in a similar vein. She is revered now for her contribution to Britain’s multicultural vivacity – via the Notting Hill Carnival. But today’s Carnival has very little to do with what she began in 1959 or why. She suggested a kind of spirited celebration with calypso to remind West Indians of home, and it was held in a town hall. The reason was to wash the taste of the racism of the anti-black riots of 1958 ‘out of our mouths’. Similarly, she is embraced now as a leading feminist. But her ‘feminism’ was about the emancipation of the ‘Negro woman’; for her the personal was not the political – rather the political was personal. She should not be read out of her time, put on a liberal pedestal to please contemporary palates. Claudia Jones was tremendously industrious, influential and majestic – a political icon and role model if ever there was one. But she also ran fashion pageants (the sort of beauty shows derided by feminists within a decade) and advertised hair straightening products in her paper. That was her time.

Just as in the case of Nelson Mandela, one can hazard that her greatness and strength were honed both through the hardships she underwent (including incarceration, deportation, poverty and ill-health) and the discipline and rigour of party politics. It was in the party that she began to analyse, write and to organise. She did not believe, as Mandela did not believe, that capitalism (like apartheid) would just roll over and die – it would take long and concerted revolutionary struggle. To erase the political bedrock of people’s beliefs from the telling of their history is not just a monstrous distortion of their life’s work, but is also a very bad political lesson for those trying to change the world in their wake.

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Re-Presenting Refugees: discussion starting points

audience+mazThe discussion focus on 30th Oct 2013 is around representation, definition and mobilisation. Here follows a list of questions which Kooj is using as starting points:

– to what extent do or should the arts practices under a ‘refugee’ umbrella represent a distinct sector, what are its identifying characteristics and what can this achieve?

– what are the limitations or problems with such initiatives?

– how does such work support and progress wider discussions around support for refugees and human rights?

– the way people seeking refuge are treated continues to move towards tighter restrictions, reduced sympathy and rights, greater destitution, racism and xenophobia. Is art at its limit in being able to influence such developments, or does our game need to change?

– what kind of a sector is it or should it become – a loose movement or an organised set of voices?

– is there a challenge to established modes of practice that such work presents, and in what ways?

– what kinds of practice might be of particular importance in developing such a sector?

– presentation of arts works in relation to refugees can often label themselves and dig their own corner of predictable narratives and styles – which in turn can stereotype themselves. In what ways can arts practices avoid such predictability?

If anyone has any responses to these, feel free to add your comments by clicking on ‘reply’.

“Life Without Papers” wins Best Writing Award (cross-post from ASHA blog)

The following was originally posted on ASHA’s blog at http://ashamanchester.wordpress.com/  on October 17, 2013 by tonyopenshaw :

The blog project, “Life Without Papers”, created by Len Grant, features stories of undocumented migrant families and young people. Undocumented migrants have nothing. They are not allowed to work. They have no right to state benefits nor to a place to live. They are unseen and potentially the most vulnerable group in the UK today.

Undocumented (or irregular) migrants include those trafficked into the sex trade or for domestic servitude; they include visa overstayers; those whose asylum applications have been refused and others who have been subject to failures in the immigration system. All of these may originally have come to the UK legally.

‘Illegal immigrants’ – those imagined to have entered the country in Continue reading

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RE-PRESENTING REFUGEES: discussion, performance, exhibition

90 Degree Citizen exhibition project:
Special Event on Weds 30th October, 6pm – 9pm, at Manchester Museum

>> RE-PRESENTING REFUGEES panel discussion <<
>>
PASSENGER 12 multimedia performance <<
>>
COMMITTED TO REPRESENT exhibition premiere – open to view from 5pm <<

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A range of key speakers and artists explore critical issues around art, displacement and refugees.  As a dynamic movement, alternative practices and perspectives, cultural resistance or affirmation, political and historical contexts.  Open to the public on the eve of the Platforma national conference on arts and refugees.  A Virtual Migrants event www.virtualmigrants.net .

Discussion begins 7.20pm – panel includes:

Flora Alexander – Iranian visual artist based in Glasgow
Yusra Warsama – poet, playwright and actor from Somalia
Tom Green – director of Platforma national network of arts and refugees
Humberto Velez – international visual, media and performance artist
Isobel Bowler – legal case worker at GM Immigration Aid Unit
Iseult Timmermans – artist and creative producer with refugee groups at Street Level Photoworks
Discussion chaired by Kooj Chuhan – artist and cultural producer; founder of Virtual Migrants and director of 90 Degree Citizen

Multimedia experimental performance: part 1 begins 7pm with part 2 after the discussion – includes artists:

Sai Murray (writer, poet, spoken word)
Maya Chowdhry (performer, writer, multimedia and interactive artist)
Aidan Jolly (composer-songwriter and musician)
Tracey Zengeni (vocalist)
Mazaher (VJ projections)
Elmi Ali (writer, poet, spoken word)
Pat Mackela (drums and percussion)

Committed To Represent – exhibition premiere with talks about the work at 6pm including special guest Mavis Makhaza from Gtr Manchester Immigration Aid Unit and WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together):

Portable panels of photography and text, portraying the people behind the labels – our unsung heroes the legal immigration caseworkers and those who have needed their support. Created by Kooj Chuhan, Ursula Sharma and Mazaher, as a partnership project between GM Immigration Aid and Virtual Migrants.  This is a pop-up exhibition only on show until 1st November in the Kanaris Foyer at the museum.

This event is a part of the 90 Degree Citizen exhibition, on show from 10th October – 17th November at Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL

FREE to attend, but please register at www.re-presentingrefugees.eventbrite.co.uk

The café will be open during this event for food and drinks.  Light refreshments provided.  All timings are approximate.

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90 Degree Citizen – installing the exhibition

4bAmang Mardokhy arrives at Manchester Museum to install his paintings for 90 Degree Citizen – A rare exhibition of work by a new wave of visual artists whose experiences include life as refugees in the UK, and engaging with objects from The Manchester Museum.

“I have come from Kurdistan, north part of Iraq. Since the early start of my art experience, I also have learned how to live and express the sufferings of Continue reading

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UPDATE: Special Guests and online video – 90 Degree Citizen exhibition: Opens 10th Oct 6pm at Manchester Museum

WAST_logoSPECIAL GUESTS ANNOUNCED: Mavis Makhaza from GM Immigration Aid Unit and WAST (Women Asylum Speakers Together), plus Tony Openshaw from ASHA (Asylum Support Housing Advice) will speak about their work in relation to the exhibition

stephen welsh - youtubeNEW VIDEO INTERVIEW NOW ONLINE: Stephen Welsh, the Curator of Living Cultures at Manchester Museum, on museum collections and 90 Degree Citizen in the context of Victorian colonialism and ethnography

Thursday 10th October, 6pm, Manchester Museum, here are full details of the Opening Event from our website. Free, but register here