“Activist-academic Meg-John Barker and cartoonist Jules Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action…”
“A kaleidoscope of characters from the diverse worlds of pop culture, film, activism and acaedia… guide us on a journey through the ideas, people and events that have shaped queer theory. From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do, and how culture can shift our perspective of what’s ‘normal’.” – book jacket
It’s harder than usual to create a focus text this month, but as ever we welcome people who are not able to read the book (or read it in full). If you can’t access the book, please try to watch the videos below. People are always welcome to come along and listen if they’ve not had time to engage with any of the content
The first video is under 3 minutes and offers a very quick glance and overview of the book:
The second, 20 minute, video features an interview with Meg-John Barker on a tour of places that are important to them – queer and trans friendly hairdressers Open Barbers, LGBT health and well-being centre London Friend where Meg-John works as a counsellor once a week, and the Open University branch in Camden where Barket often attends events or hosts meetings. They talk about “lots of topics including therapy, love, gender, sexual and relationship diversity, the need (or not) for labels, kink, and what kind of cake I prefer!”
February is LGBTQ history month in the UK, coinciding with a major celebration of the 2003 abolition of Section 28 (which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities – effectively banning discussion and presentation of resources).
Our monthly events in early 2020 will form a series on “Praxis: activism, social movements, and revolution”. Each of these three events will be held on Wednesdays, 7.30-9.30pm at The Exchange Stroud (GL5 1DF). Dates and links to full information below
We will focus our discussion on Chapter 4: “Practice-Oriented Thinking: ‘The Philosophers Have Only Interpreted the World’ (you will need to email us for the text, but are encouraged to read the full book, which can be ordered for next day delivery from Stroud Bookshop, £19.95). Why Social Movements Matter explains social movements for a general educated readership, shows how much social movements are part of our everyday lives, and how in many ways they have shaped the world we live in over centuries.
We will focus our discussion on Chapter 5 “A Women’s Revolution” (pages 82-102) of Revolution in Rojava – Democratic Autonomy and Women’s Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan (pdf, 4.7Mb) by Michael Knapp, Anja Flach, and Ercan Ayboga (translated by Janet Biehl). Since a 2012 revolution, and following the wider civil uprising in Syria beginning in 2011, Rojava is an autonomous region in northeastern Syria with direct democratic ambitions based on an anarchistic and libertarian socialist ideology – promoting decentralization, gender equality, environmental sustainability and pluralistic tolerance for religious, cultural and political diversity. We recommend you also read the Foreword (by David Graeber) and Introduction if you are unfamiliar with Rojava (pages 12-25). Copies of the book are available from Pluto press priced at £17.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook.
We will discuss “What’s Fat Activism?” (pdf) by Charlotte Cooper, exploring what we can learn from the history of fat activism, as well as touching on how we can unpick the ways we’ve been shaped by harmful, moralising discourses around food and weight that surround us. The article covers similar ground to Cooper’s book Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement (HammerOn press, paperback £16, ebook £10), a rare insider’s view of fat people speaking about their lives and politics on their own terms. As ever, we have selected a shorter text to focus our discussion but recommend readers read the full book if they are able.
We will explore what we can learn from the history of fat activism, as well as touching on how we can unpick the ways we’ve been shaped by harmful, moralising discourses around food and weight that surround us.
Charlotte Cooper is a psychotherapist, cultural worker and para-academic living and working in London. She is a founding proponent of Fat Studies. By lifting the lid on a previously unexplored social movement and offering a fresh perspective on one of the major problems of our times, Cooper’s expansive grassroots study:
Reveals details of fat activist methods and approaches and explodes myths
Charts extensive accounts of international fat activist historical roots going back over four decades
Explores controversies and tensions in the movement
Shows that fat activism is an undeniably feminist and queer phenomenon
Explains why fat activism presents exciting possibilities for anyone interested in social justice.
Stroud Radical Reading Group meets once a month. Here you can find details of sessions, links, and further information