Resistance & Movement(s)Issue 6
Editorial for Issue 6
Welcome to the sixth issue of Spark, the University of Stirling’s journal of postgraduate research. In keeping with the journal’s commitment to provide a platform for broad, multidisciplinary content, the current issue includes an exciting variety of papers connected to our theme of ‘Resistance and Movement(s)’. Before introducing the contributions, we would like to reflect briefly on this year’s theme, as interpreted in the Call for Papers and considering more recent events.
When we launched the Call for Papers in October 2019, we invited contributions on environmental and ecological forms of movement and resistance, on physical movement and migration, economic and commercial processes, and power relations and conflict, as well as resistance and movement(s) between ideas and theories, through creativity, innovation and (new) technologies, and culture-based forms of mobilisation and resistance. Authors were encouraged to connect the two aspects of the theme, not only ideologically and spatially, but also considering temporal movements between past, present, and future. Resistance and movement(s) could be interpreted in a literal, figurative, or metaphorical sense in their generative, empowering, and destructive qualities and from a variety of disciplines.
Little did we know when launching the Call how relevant the theme would be when considering subsequent events. Since the global pandemic was declared, COVID-19 has touched all our lives, with millions of people infected and many tragic deaths. As the disease raced around the world, government responses restricted individual movements, restrictions that themselves provoked resistance. Although individual movements were disrupted, the fast and global dissemination of information has been largely unhindered and continues to contribute to both connectivity and conflict in an increasingly contested and polarised world. Political movements of resistance and change and their socio-cultural manifestations have been readily apparent, including global action in support of protests in the USA and the Black Lives Matter (BML) movement, and demands in the UK for greater recognition of countries’ involvement in colonialism and its on-going effects in society. While the pandemic has certainly moved some issues to the back of the current political agenda, major global challenges persist and intersect with the new reality. Many millions of people displaced by conflict, fleeing from persecution or migrating in the hope of a better future, remain acutely vulnerable, their access to asylum and other rights curtailed as countries closed borders and with limited scope to protect themselves from the risk of infection. Initial reports that the decline in economic activity was having a positive effect on the environment, air and water quality, have been counterbalanced by accounts of growing waste as a result of an increased use of disposable plastic—including personal protective equipment, such as disposable masks. As governments and individuals are forced to rethink many aspects of modern life, there is perhaps potential for new, more sustainable, approaches to emerge: to invention, technology, and economy, to health and well-being, the creative arts, politics and political activism, and social life. The reconceptualization of our work and personal lives, while not always welcome, may mean that radical changes are more tangible now than ever before.
We are incredibly grateful to our authors, who were willing and able to continue working on their papers through the disruption caused by the pandemic. Unfortunately, many other postgraduates have been hindered by the closure of libraries and archives, the abrupt postponement of lab and fieldwork, and by the challenges brought about by the changes to home and work life. We hope to see some of their research in future issues of this journal.
The papers in this year’s issue connect with the theme in ways that are both relevant and insightful given the current context:
Zoe Russell’s paper Resistance and Movement In Neoliberal Society: A Literature Review on the Criminalisation of Dissent reflects on the criminalisation of dissent in social movement studies, political science, and criminology. The paper covers themes such as state repression and protest control, policing protest, politics and socio-legal change, crime, social control, and security—all with relevance to the pressing social issues that have gained heightened attention in recent months. The paper highlights prominent themes and possibilities for future research.
Corinne Angier’s paper Scotland’s education policy of Learning for Sustainability, the Anthropocene and learning to resist critically reviews the interwoven discourses within the Scottish Government’s policy and the approach to promoting sustainability in education. The paper argues that the partially devolved responsibility for policy implementation allows schools and teachers some opportunity to decide which of these discourses to align with. This opens up opportunities to resist schooling for the status quo. Angier suggests that the broad affordances and range of interpretations inherent in the ‘Learning for Sustainability’ approach provides a space within which more critical and emancipatory practices might flourish.
The tensions between new and established representations are explored in Ross Cameron’s paper ‘The Place of Violence Itself’: Continuity and Rupture in the Imaginative Geographies of Post-Yugoslav Cinema on continuity and rupture in films set in the post-Yugoslav space. The article introduces and compares two cinematic traditions, that of ‘self-balkanisation’, following Western European discourses of the Balkans, and that of ‘normalization’, which seeks to resist essentialisation and legitimise the Balkan Peninsula’s position within Europe. The paper argues that, despite the intended change in presentations, neo-colonial imaginative geographies of the Balkans remain influential even as they are resisted.
This issue also includes a book review by Kevin Judge of Woodcock, J. (2019) Marx At The Arcade: Consoles, Controllers, and Class Struggle (Chicago: Haymarket Books). The publication explores the duality of making and playing videogames as the popularity of gaming continues to be a global leisure activity that is shared across all sections of society. Judge finds it to be a timely contribution and rich exploration into an industry that produces more than play and a pastime, one that has serious consequences for social interactions and relations. For these reasons, he argues, there is an urgency to use a Marxist perspective to understand the movements that demand greater creativity, representation, and ownership in gaming development, and call to question the processes of resistance upheld by industry sections and gaming groups.
We hope that you all enjoy these insightful and thought-provoking papers from the safety of your homes. We would like to thank all our authors, peer reviewers, and copy editors, without whom it would not be possible to produce the journal. If you would like to be involved with a future issue of Spark, please do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to get involved?
Zoe Russell, University of Stirling
Corinne Angier, University of Stirling
Ross Cameron, University of Glasgow
Kevin Judge, University of Stirling