“Unruly Bodies” in Body/State

I have a chapter about the Non-Stop Picket in a new book just out.  The book is Body/State edited by my colleagues Angus Cameron and Jen Dickinson, with Nicola Smith from the University of Birmingham, and published by Ashgate.  As the blurb on the back of the book says,

Body/State brings together original essays addressing various aspects of the evolving interaction between bodies and states. While each essay has different empirical and/or theoretical focus, authors consider a number of overlapping themes to appreciate the state’s engagement with, and concern about, bodies.

Body/State by Cameron, Dickinson and Smith (eds)

Body/State by Cameron, Dickinson and Smith (eds)

My chapter, ‘Unruly Bodies’, appears in the section on ‘Deviance and Resistance’ (part III of the book) and explores how participants in the Non-Stop Picket of the South African embassy used their bodies in ‘unruly’ ways to contest British collaboration with apartheid and practice solidarity with the Black majority in South Africa.  Here’s a short extract from the introduction that explains a little more:

This chapter describes the distinctive culture of solidarity created by the material space of the Picket and the practices that sustained it.  It examines how the cosmopolitan friendship networks created amongst Picketers enabled them to see beyond their own life experiences and extend their understanding of solidarity in important ways.  City Group and the Non-Stop Picket had a culture of direct action against the representatives of the apartheid regime (and their supporters) in Britain.  Through this non-violent, but confrontational political stance, the young Picketers learned to think and act against the (British) state, using their bodies in unruly ways.  In the pages that follow, I examine both the positive, empowering aspects of holding this stance, but also consider the understandable, but less positive, paranoia that this could lead to.  In doing so, I highlight the uneven terrain of this unruliness, demonstrating how some picketers could take (and get away with) the risks associated with being unruly more safely than others; whilst some found themselves positioned as ‘unruly’ in relation to the Picket’s own culture. 

There is some great material in the rest of the book and I am looking forward to finally getting to read the other contributions.  At present, the book is only available in hardback and, as such, is quite pricey.  If you’re in a position to order it for a Library, please do so to help get this important work into circulation.

About Gavin Brown

Professor of Political Geography and Sexualities University of Leicester
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1 Response to “Unruly Bodies” in Body/State

  1. This looks like a great collection! I will order it for my uni library for defs.

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