Tag Archives: Book

Culture, Memory, and Resistance – Autumn 2019 Series

Our Autumn 2019 series explores the way in which the status quo is maintained or resisted through culture and memory, looking at this through different historical contexts: the British Empire, and postwar Italy and Germany.

25th September – Insurgent Empire: anticolonial resistance and British dissent

Insurgent Empire by Dr Priyamvada Gopal “examines a century of dissent on the question of empire and shows how British critics of empire were influenced by rebellions and resistance in the colonies, from the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India. In addition, a pivotal role in fomenting resistance was played by anticolonial campaigners based in London, right at the heart of empire.” (from publishers Verso, who are helpfully selling the book 50% at £12.50 till 23rd September)

23rd October – Antonio Gramsci (reading TBC)

In October we will discuss work by Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician, Antonio Gramsci. A short reading will be chosen ASAP, focusing on Gramsci’s ideas about the role of culture and ideology in maintaining the status quo through the development of “common sense” values and norms, rather than merely through violence, economic force, or coercion.

20th November – Post-War to Post-Wall, an event with Berliner Zeitgeist

Stroud Radical Reading Group is collaborating with Uta Baldauf and Katharina Child to host a session as part of the Berliner Zeitgeist programme of events.

For our November session we will read and discuss two texts exploring the past and present of Berlin, and how memory of history affects society, in a German context:

“Understanding the City through Crisis. Neoliberalization in Post-Wall Berlin” by Henrik Lebuhn, and “On How Postwar Germany Has Faced Its Recent Past” by Jurgen Habermas.


Wangari Maathai, July 17th

Our series on Climate and Environmental Crises concludes with Wangari Maathai’s “The Challenge for Africa: a new vision”. We will meet to discuss two chapters from this book at Black Book Cafe on July 17th, 7.30-9.30pm.

Our discussion will focus on Chapters 8 and 12 – available as a pdf download via this link, though you are welcome to read the whole book. Chapter 8 (pages 160-183) is titled “Culture: The Missing Link”, in which Maathai investigates how her “personal recognition of the importance of culture led [her] to create the Civic and Environemental Education seminars as part of the Green Belt Movement’s work” . In Chapter 12 (239-259), “Environment and Development”, Maathai says she “argue[s] for the centrality of the environment in all discussions of, and approaches to, addressing the challenges Africa faces”.

Events are free to attend but we ask for a donation of £2-3 from anyone who can afford it to cover venue costs. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements. We aim to make the sessions a welcoming space for anyone interested in the topic, you do not need to have a university education or have ever been to a reading group before, and we even welcome people who have not read the text but would like to listen! Facebook event – Wangari Maathai: The Challenge for Africa

Information about the book (from the cover of the 2009 William Heinemann edition): “In this urgent yet optimistic new work, Wangari Maathai – winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Green Belt Movement – provides a unqiue perspective on the fate of Africa, and offers hope for a new way forward.

The challenges facing Africa are real and vast: terrible conflicts wrack the Darfur region of Sudan, southern Somalia, the Niger delta and eastern Congo; elections have been violently contested in Kenya and Zimbabwe; drought and floods are prevalent in both west and east; and HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis ravage the continent. Natural resources are drying up, and changing rainfall patterns – partly as a result of global warming – directly jeopardise the livelihood of the great majority of Africans who still rely on the land for their survival.

All too often, Africa’s problems are reduced to a series of tableaux vivants connoting dependency, desperation or savagery. What is needed is a different vision – one that comes out of Africa, from an African. Informed by the author’s three decades as an environmental activist and campaigner for democracy, The Challenge for Africa surveys what is really hampering the contintent’s development, and argues that the future of Africa lies not in international aid, but in the hands of Africans themselves.

Written in Wangari Maathai’s searingly decisive yet inspiring voice, and offering nothing less than a manifesto for twenty-first century Africa, The Challenge for Africa celebrates the enduing potential of the human spirit, and reminds us that change is always possible.”

Down to Earth by Bruno Latour – 15th May 2019

As part of our summer series on climate and environmental crises, we will discuss Bruno Latour’s Down To Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime on Wednesday 15th May, 7.30-9.30pm at Black Book Cafe. Facebook event: Down to Earth-Bruno Latour – SRRG discussion.

The book is available for £12.99 from Stroud Bookshop (we can negotiate a small discount through bulk purchase if enough people want a copy) but we will focus our discussion on chapters 1-5 and 20 of Latour’s book – excerpts available as a pdf here (pages 1-21, 99-106).

From the publisher’s page about the book: “The present ecological mutation has organized the whole political landscape for the last thirty years. This could explain the deadly cocktail of exploding inequalities, massive deregulation, and conversion of the dream of globalization into a nightmare for most people.

What holds these three phenomena together is the conviction, shared by some powerful people, that the ecological threat is real and that the only way for them to survive is to abandon any pretense at sharing a common future with the rest of the world. Hence their flight offshore and their massive investment in climate change denial.

The Left has been slow to turn its attention to this new situation. It is still organized along an axis that goes from investment in local values to the hope of globalization and just at the time when, everywhere, people dissatisfied with the ideal of modernity are turning back to the protection of national or even ethnic borders.

This is why it is urgent to shift sideways and to define politics as what leads toward the Earth and not toward the global or the national. Belonging to a territory is the phenomenon most in need of rethinking and careful redescription; learning new ways to inhabit the Earth is our biggest challenge. Bringing us down to earth is the task of politics today.”

Chapter titles of the sections forming our focus for discussion:

Chapter 1: “A hypothesis as political fiction: the explosion of inequalities and the denial of climate change are one and the same phenomenon.”

Chapter 2: Thanks to America’s abandonment of the climate agreement, we now know clearly what war has been declared

Chapter 3:  The question of migrations now concerns everyone, offering a new and very wicked universality: finding oneself deprived of ground

Chapter 4: One must take care not to confuse globalization-plus with globalization-minus

Chapter 5. How the globalist ruling classes have decided to abandon all the burdens of solidarity, little by little

Chapter 20: “A personal defence of the Old Continent”