This month sees the UK cinema release of Steve McQueen’s brilliant and brutal new film, 12 Years a Slave. McQueen has been vocal in condemning cinema’s wariness in confronting the subjects of slavery and race, and his film has galvanized a new interest in the unspeakably ugly period in American history.
Based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 documentary, 12 Years a Slave takes an unflinching look at the story of a free black man from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery.
Verso has long held a commitment to telling similar stories, and we now present a selection of books as the essential starting point for those looking to learn more about the roots, events and legacies of slavery and racial tensions in America and the world.
Xenophobia Blog Series
. This is the first instalment of a series of pieces published on our blog by leading voices on the current and alarming force of Xenophobia - the fear of "strange and foreign" identities.
“The terrible results of the European elections were not a crash of thunder in a calm sky. They are a particularly worrying step in a downward spiral that has accelerated in recent months.” This is how the sociologists Luc Boltanski
and Arnaud Esquerre see the recent results from the European elections. Together Boltanski
and Esquerre discuss the aftermath of the European elections and the rise of the Front National Party—an economically reactionary, socially conservative, and xenophobic nationalist political party—in France.
In January 1978, Margaret Thatcher, then leader of the opposition, gave what became one of her most quoted television interviews. "People," she told ITV's World in Action
, "are really rather afraid that this country might be swamped by people with a different culture." Those words gave birth to a tenet of modern British politics: that Margaret Thatcher stole the far right's thunder by addressing the tricky subject of immigration. But is it true?
The background to her interview was public hostility to immigrants from Britain's former colonies. This wasn't exactly new: racism had shadowed the arrival of Commonwealth citizens from the 1940s onwards, peaking violently on occasions such as the 1958 Notting Hill race riots. But from the late 1960s, that racism had begun to find a growing political expression, in the form of the National Front.
Out in the UK this month, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and Steven Speilberg's Lincoln has energized interest in a period of American history defined by race. Rather than make our own critiques or slap downs, we present these books to fill the gaps left by Hollywood.
Labour MP Jon Cruddas looks back on a very different Olympic year, 2000, in his review of Daniel Trillings Bloody Nasty People
in this weeks New Statesman
. Rather than the "positive national story" of this year's games, instead we saw the opening days of a decade of political and racial antagonism fostered by the far-right, unwittingly colluded in by both Conservative and Labour politicians who "swerved around the question of modern national identity and triangulated instead between the nationalist right and the liberal left".