Reflections on the Project

Over the past few weeks, we have been rewriting our scripts, and tightening our arguments to incorporate more cross references between our different disciplinary approaches. I have also been deciding what elements to cut from my section of the presentation. One of the biggest challenges for all of us has been to keep our points succinct. Since Sophie’s hypothetical pointer that ‘no one knows what you don’t say’, it has been easier to cut with confidence. Throughout this process, we have also realised that it is more about collective cohesion than about packing in as much information as possible.

For my section, I ended up transcribing Farage’s Brexit victory speech on June 23rd 2016. I was amazed that there were no transcriptions readily available online. Seeing it written down, also made me realise that the words take on very different meanings and significance when you break down their structure. I approached the analysis and transcription of the speech like breaking down a poem, and realised that political rhetoric, shares many formal attributes with spoken word, when seen on the page. Farage’s speech is broken into six, stanza-like sections, each of which performs a different action. They are punctuated by cheers from the crowd.

Having spent more time studying the context and content of UKIP rhetoric, I have gained a better understanding of how Brexit came about. The shock and sadness of the liberal bubble amongst young metropolitan voters over Brexit, is indicative of how little we are aware of demographics outside of our own.

This process has been extremely enlightening in terms of learning about how we can approach a case study using multiple disciplines. We have all noticed how, as students of the humanities, the boundaries between each of our disciplines, from history and geography, to literature and classics, are less defined than we initially expected. We have come to realise that when investigating phenomena like Farage and Brexit, an interdisciplinary approach will always yield a fuller understanding of the issue.

This is it… Voice A – Angeline Bejjani

We’re facing the final countdown for our presentation – all the hard work is about to pay off!

I’m excited to get all of our ideas out, a little bit nervous to face the questions that might come our way, but very happy to get the presentation out there.

I think I’ll still be talking about no-platforming in my sleep though!

Here’s a photo to commemorate our final moment – hoping it doesn’t go down like this! #nerves #don’tchoke #don’tstumble #don’treadstraightoffthescript

Image result for funny presentation

Discrepancies… Voice Group A – Angeline Bejjani

I have really enjoyed all the research that has gone into our project – and I wish we could have included all of the different ideas that the group thought out, as they were all so great! Unfortunately, the time constraints meant that we couldn’t!

I would like to briefly share one of the ideas that I found really interesting, that we didn’t end up being able to include in our presentation.

There appear to be so many discrepancies when it comes to the issues of no-platforming, and even those that do promote the concept, often disagree on how it should be enforced, and the criteria it should be bound by. The no-platform attempt of Donald Trump’s UK State visit is so interesting to me, especially when considering the long list of controversial figures that have already had state visits to meet the Queen.

Robert Mugabe’s visit in 1994 is such a prime example of this controversy. Mugabe was even knighted during his visit – a commendation that was later stripped from him, after further knowledge of his humanitarian crimes made them impossible to ignore. While Mugabe was allowed a state visit, Trump is not. While some may take offence at this comparison, I do find it really interesting that Trump’s potential state visit was seen as an, almost, national emergency, while the countless controversial figures that have already visited remain ignored, and were met with severely limited process.

While unable to include my thoughts on this within the presentation, this discrepancy really sparked my interest in the project, and did add to my engagement with the concept.

Geography section of presentation

My working for the geography section of the presentation is based on one of Farage’s 2013 speeches rallying support for Brexit. The speech makes specific reference to the North East of England, so I have based my part of the presentation on a case study of this area. I have applied the idea of a spatial fix, a concept coined by the well-known Marxist geographer David Harvey. A spatial fix describes capitalisms tendency to solve its inner crisis through geographical expansion and restructuring. This was seen in the North East, as the ship building industry moved abroad to exploit cheap labour. My analysis pulls out sections of the speech and shows how Farage exploits context and applies it in an emotional way, targeting the disenfranchised voices. It was great that the geography and history sections worked so well together, so we have tied this together really easily in the presentation. Georgina’s rhetoric analysis also fits in well with the emotional manipulation aspect of this.

 

 

 

Voice Group A – Angeline Bejjani – Political Leaders and No-platforming

The constant debate surrounding the potential ethical issues surrounding no-platforming are becoming increasingly hard to ignore.

Global issues of conflict and humanitarian crisis appear to be ever increasing, and in the midst of this, issues concerning no platforming are becoming more and more evident.

What is particularly interesting are the blurred lines between political relationships, and allegedly offensive views. For example, Theresa May’s meeting with the recently elected Donald Trump was described as a ‘historic’ meeting, but was seen by many as an offensive incidence – one which appeared to demonstrate May’s ignorance of public opinion toward the newly elected President.

This public opinion was later demonstrated through the overwhelming support that the attempted no-platforming of Trump’s state visit received. The British public had fundamentally voted to restrict Trump’s UK platform, but arguably, he had already experienced a global platform with arguably the most influential British political figure: the Prime Minister herself.

So what does this conflicting relationship between global political relationships, and attempts at no platforming, communicate? While no-platforming within Western Universities appears to be a democratic issue, are we experiencing true democracy when our political leaders appear to be ignore public opinions? These are each interesting ideas when it comes to the controversies surrounding no platforming.

 

Week 9

In our most recent meeting, we were finalising the presentation. We’ve been using google docs in between meeting times to make sure that everyone is aware of what the others are researching and writing.

Approaching presentation day we seem to have 3 main concerns:

1. Linking the different sections and disciplines together. Although we have worked as a group on most aspects of the presentation, each person has a different set of skills and we have to make sure that the work is collaborative to ensure its interdisciplinarity. For example, as a geography major I have the most experience in methodology and primary data collection, but instead of me just doing the whole section alone, it’s important for me to explain what we need to say and why to the whole group.

2. Timings! We found the topic of no-platforming so interesting that we ended up having far more material than we can fit into the 20 min slot. We have to prioritise the core elements of the presentation.

3. Recognising and reflecting on our interdisciplinarity. Sophie talked to us in our meeting on Monday about reflecting on how our project has been interdisciplinary – something that we struggled with as the group felt that through the Liberal Arts degree, this was something second nature to us and difficult to pull out of the sub-conscience to analyse.

Voice Group A – Angeline Bejjani – Some more thoughts on Germaine Greer

Just thought I would post a few more thoughts that I had on the attempted no-platforming of Germaine Greer at Cardiff University.

Greer’s lecture at Cardiff Uni ended up going ahead, and according to The Guardian, was met with very little protest, all of which remained peaceful. Prior to speaking at the university, Greer made several comments regarding the attempts to no-platform her.

Greer maintained that she felt the no-platform attempt was unfair, as the topic of her talk was unrelated to the views that she was being no-platformed for. She summarised her feelings with the statement ‘…I am not even going to talk about the issue that they are on about’, and ‘because I don’t think’ the same way, ‘I should not be allowed to speak anywhere’.

There are an increasing amount of individuals being no-platformed for similar reasons. Within, and also outside of Universities, the criteria concerning no-platforming appears to go beyond the offensive nature of speech, and to focus more heavily on the potentially offensive behaviours of individuals themselves.

This is something that we’re seeing University speakers facing more and more, and according to Greer, is unfair. I wonder if each of us would agree?

Here’s the article from The Guardian that I referred to earlier:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/nov/18/transgender-activists-protest-germaine-greer-lecture-cardiff-university

 

Voice Group A – Angeline Bejjani – No-Platforming – a few thoughts…

The more I look into examples of no-platforming, the more interesting I find the whole topic.

I read an article recently, which reflected on Germain Greer being no-platformed at Cardiff University. While we probably don’t have time to explore this in detail within our presentation, the article adds an interesting element to our ideas.

Most interesting is the transatlantic nature of having no-platfored Germain Greer. Despite being no-platformed in Wales, the article was written by Clare Lehmann, who works for ABC News in the Australia. The no-platforming of Greer in Cardiff appears to have sparked an international debate, that transcends political boundaries and geographical borders.

Lehmann’s interpretation is distinctly disapproving. She comments on no-platforming being a ‘deeper sickness’ that ‘plague[es] Western Universities’, as a tool that students use to ‘silence’ other individuals. This is definitely one interpretation surrounding issues of no-platforming, but it’s always interesting to consider the political dynamics that result from the opinions of those that reside in other countries. While Greer herself is Australian, it still remains that to have an Australian reporter diagnose a ‘sickness’ within our ‘western universities’, without any knowledge of her experience with our institutions, adds further complexities to issues of no-platforming.

However, the opinions expressed within the international media do appear to be significant to how the UK deals with issues of no platforming. As the article cites, Cardiff University did respond to ABC News, and indicated that Greer’s talk would go ahead at a later date, which it did. Cardiff University’s response to the many articles that reported the story could account for two things: fear of bad press, or an unwillingness to no-platform academic speakers. Whatever their intention, Greer’s talk did go ahead, and Cardiff University felt it important to inform the media, including the international ABC News, that it would do so. Whatever the motivations, Cardiff University engaged not only with national, but international, media coverage, which highlights the transatlantic nature of no-platforming an individual, and the geographical boundaries that the issue continues to transcend.

Here’s the article:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-27/lehmann-greer-and-the-no-platforming-scourge/6887576

 

 

Audio Interviews

This past week I have been editing the audio clips of the interviews we conducted. We asked ten KCL students a handful of questions including what they knew about no platforming, if they thought it was a problem for free speech and also their opinions on a few different ‘controversial’ figures – Germaine Greer, Tony Blair and Donald Trump.

Originally we were planning to interview more students but I quickly realised that we already had too much material for the time we had allotted to the interview segment. I had about an hour of audio to edit down to four minutes – quite a long task already, and unfortunately I had to leave out some of the questions I’d originally intended to include, which was a shame.

Germain Greer was no platformed by Goldsmiths University because of transphobic views. John Bercow essentially suggested no platforming Trump recently and although Tony Blair hasn’t been no platformed to my knowledge, it is not hard to imagine that in certain spaces, he would be a hugely controversial figure. Many people do think that his actions regarding Iraq mean he no longer has a place in any debate – which is the kind of point of view that goes to the core of no platforming.

I designed these questions and chose these people because I was interested in where our interviewees would ‘draw the line’ in terms of who to know platform and who to not. At which point would someones views because so unacceptable that they don’t deserve a platform? We ended by asking people if they would no platform someone overtly racist. My hunch was that THIS would be where the ‘line’ would be. Inevitably, the answers were much more varied and nuanced then I might had expected.

We were not interested only in ‘yes or no’ answers, but wanted to hear peoples opinions (and voices!). Now it is edited, I am pleased with the finished result because it represents a very wide spectrum of opinions of the issue. I think it will make a good start to our presentation because it will introduce the audience to the issue and as cope of opinions on it very quickly – but hopefully in a more engaging way then us simply describing them.