Student protests grow in US universities

November 20, 2011


I blogged a couple of weeks ago about a new form of student protest to emerge in the Philippines and noted how difficult it can be for police to move a dead-weight body. Rather than attempt to do so, campus police at University of California, Davis, resorted to pepper spraying peacefully sitting student protestors. The […]

When silence speaks

October 19, 2011


The problem with South African politicians is that they spend so much time on megaphone communication shouting at each other that they can’t spot the significance of silence. When they finally get the idea that something damaging is developing they are so out of touch they are clueless how to handle it. The row over […]

To plank, or not to plank

October 4, 2011


In Britain, students marched in protest. In the Philippines they planked. Now an anti-planking bill is before the Philippine Congress and has prompted an international internet storm of ridicule and criticism. What started out as a Facebook craze between friends has transmuted into a form of gesture politics or student protest. What is interesting, though, […]

A snapshot of campaigning

September 24, 2011


Campaigner-blogger Tom Baker has compiled an invaluable snapshot of civil society-government engagement in Britain between 2010 and 20011. In particular it provides interesting insights into who has been able to mobilize mass action by members, on what campaign and aimed at which department between 2010 and 2011. In a field that is generally under-researched nobody […]

Banning a song, violating memories

September 17, 2011


The ban by a South African court on a liberation song raises questions not only about freedom of expression (and its limits) but also about how a post-colonial society remembers past struggles against tyranny. The white-dominated civil rights group AgriForum had brought the case in the Equality Court against Julius Malema, the leader of the […]

Why the surprise? PR consultancies and oppressive regimes

September 7, 2011


Al-Jazeera’s Listening Post this week and other media outlets have made much of the employment of PR Consultants like the Washington-based Qorvis Communications and the London-based Bell Pottinger by the governments in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain to address their bad image in the west. But why should this be surprising? The surprise is as much […]

Dangerous humour – the silencing of cartoonists

August 31, 2011


Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat has been badly beaten and had his hands broken after lampooning the Assad regime. Earlier this year his Libyan counterpart Kais al-Hilali was shot while caricaturing Qaddafi on a wall in Benghazi. Twenty-five years ago the Palestinian Naji al-Ali – creator of the character Handhala, child witness in the Palestinian refugee […]