Back in September I spoke at a workshop at the Watershed in Bristol organised by Michael Buser from the University of the West of England. The workshop was on the theme of “Creative Practice, activism, and place-based identities”. My talk was titled “Creating solidarity: performance and material culture in British anti-apartheid direct action”. In it I spoke about the different forms of creativity performed on the Non-Stop Picket – the banners and placards, the songs and raps, and the creative performances of direct action against apartheid. I also thought about the role these creative practices played in sustaining the Non-Stop Picket as a ‘non-stop’ protest. In particular, I considered how song and the co-creation of new lyrics helped sustain picketers on quieter shifts when there was a danger of them becoming bored. These ideas are still very much a work on progress, and some of the interviews (and other conversations) I have participated in since September have led me to realise that some picketers found positive value in the ‘quieter’ shifts – precisely because they afforded an opportunity for more in-depth conversation and debate with their comrades.
I recorded my thoughts on issues raised at the workshop on this blog at the time. The organisers have now published their own full report on the day, including videos of most of the talks. Many of them are worth watching, but I particularly recommend Paul Routledge’s keynote manifesto. Here is my talk from that event (unfortunately, the camera was focused on me and not the images I was using as illustrations for most of the time):
In watching the video of the talk last night, I spotted one mistake (and a couple of moments of ‘artistic license’ in the retelling of certain stories). The young Icelandic woman I refer to at the very end of the talk was a school student at the time, not an au pair (but my substantive point there remains the same).