Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
Photo: Raju Rage
We are a glitch in the system
Our lives deny the lies
Our complexity is dissent
We fight for love
Digital Desperados hosted Glitch 2015, the UK’s first QTIPoC (queer, trans and intersex people of colour) film festival in Glasgow in March. The festival was designed to inform, educate and encourage discussion in Scotland’s predominantly white queer scene. ‘The programming focus creates recognition of the struggles, joys and complexity of QTIPoC people . . . to open up a space where nuanced, reflective, politically challenging films can be screened and discussed,’ as the organisers put it.
One of the highlights of the festival was Raju Rage’s directorial debut Project/ed, a short film that uses visual projection to unravel the complex layering of identity. Over seven brief minutes we view images of South Asian migration projected on the filmmaker’s gender non-conforming body. Rage uses a single cloth to adorn the body in different ways and interweaves it with image, sound and speech. In this process the film expertly uncovers the subjectivity of identity by exposing its coding through three layers: our bodies, our clothes and the projection of the person coding us.
Richard Fung’s Dal Puri Diaspora also challenges the essentialist idea of identity as fixed and objective. Fung, a proud Trinidadian, has spent his life eating roti, a delicious flat bread, traditionally served in Trinidad with chick peas as ‘doubles’. He sets out on a quest to find the origins of the roti, which migrated to the Caribbean alongside Indian indentured servants through British colonialism. Fung travels through India and follows it to Trinidad and on through the Trinidadian community to Canada, pursuing the multiple stories and journeys that the food has taken.
The film’s brilliance lies in its blending of those stories with the impact of colonialism on those cooking the roti along the way. Like any good cook Fung fuses, sizzles and spices the story with subtlety and skill. His tale takes a revealing turn when he explores the case of a Canadian company attempting to set up a roti fast food chain in India. Therein lies an astute observation on the similarities in power and practice of colonialism and capitalism, and the process of globalisation that accompanies them.
Globalisation was represented too in US filmmaker Malachi Leopold’s Alex and Ali – the story of Leopold’s uncle, Alex, trying to re-unite with the love of his life, Ali. The two men embarked on a secret relationship in Ali’s native Iran in 1967 while Alex was serving as a teacher in the US Peace Corps. A decade later Alex was forced to leave the country in the dawn of the 1979 revolution.
The pair remained in contact through letters and phone calls for three decades until Alex attempted to convince Ali to seek asylum in the US. They agreed to meet in Turkey, where Leopold joined them. The Iranian government became aware of Ali’s plans and he faced torture on his return. Despite this he didn’t want to seek asylum in the US because to do so would involve stating, legally, that he is ‘gay’.
Leopold and his uncle spend the film trying to convince Ali that he is gay and that he will find refuge in the US if only he will admit it. Ali maintains that he defines his own identity and refuses to agree to US/western-imposed definitions on his life and sexuality. Despite this, the closing sentences of the film assert that Ali ‘still refuses to accept that he is gay’.
The programmers describe the film ‘as a controversial choice’, saying they ‘thought we should screen it as it laid bare how one man’s clouded desire partially led to another’s torture’. It parallels the ‘weaponisation’ of sexuality in US foreign policy, whereby ‘enlightened’ attitudes and policy in the west are used a tool to construct the idea of civilised and uncivilised in liberal political discourse.
The lack of awareness of the filmmaker’s own cultural imperialism jarred with the focus on self-identity and autonomy in the rest of the programming. The festival hoped to reflect the complex and diverse experience of QTIPoC lives – lives that fit neither the singular definition of ‘LGBT’ nor ‘people of colour’ but interweave and are changed by cultures, interactions with the state and our other life experiences. In that complexity, they attempted to show, there is dissent.
The police spend little of their time making arrests, and most crimes are not solved, writes Alex Vitale – their real purpose is social control.
Many important things happened on conference floor, reports Alex Nunns – but you wouldn’t know it from reading the newspapers
Radhika Desai says Capital by Karl Marx is still an essential read on the 150th anniversary of its publication
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum
The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes
Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference
Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki
Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers
Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase