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Gary Younge and Ahdaf Soueif speak at Gender, Race and Political Activism Seminar

22 November 2013

On 10 October the Families and Social Capital Research Group hosted a vibrant and stimulating research afternoon on the issue of political activism.

Activism never goes away, but has become a hot topic again in recent years as a result of the post-Seattle alter-globalisation movement, the Arab Spring and the rediscovery of activist traditions in response to European austerity, such as the Spanish indignados grassroots movement.

Professor Tracey Reynolds introduced the seminar which comprised talks on a range of issues and from a number of perspectives. The Department of Social Science's visiting professor, Guardian journalist Gary Younge, spoke compellingly on the subject of his new book, The Speech,which looks at Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech delivered fifty years ago. Egyptian novelist and Tahrir Square activist Ahdaf Soueif presented a gripping slide show of her photos from the Egyptian Revolution and highlighted the bravery and optimism of the women activists in her photos. The organiser of the event, Dr Shaminder Takhar, spoke on the political agency of South Asian women in Britain while drawing on a global frame of reference. Dr Adrian Budd explored the relationship between the national and international contexts for activism, in particular within the framework of the thought of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci.

The seminar was attended by fifty guests including LSBU and visiting academics, students, and researchers. There was a powerful sense of a day well spent, a mood that was reinforced when some moved on to the reception-launch of new books by Dr Takhar and Dr Budd. Gary Younge introduced the books and spoke enthusiastically about the importance of political activism globally and its relationship to the academic world.

Gary Younge is a writer, broadcaster and journalist for The Guardian newspaper. He is a Visiting Professor of Sociology and Politics at LSBU, and author of a number of books. His latest, The Speech: The story behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the memorable speech at the March on Washington.

Ahdaf Soueifis a novelist and political and cultural commentator. She is the author of the bestselling The Map of Love(shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1999). She writes regularly for The Guardian in London and has a weekly column for al-Shorouk in Cairo. Her latest book, Cairo: My City, Our Revolution conveys a personal account of the Egyptian revolution.

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