Helen Dunmore – Birdcage Walk (2017)

birdcage walk coverWhen I first started this blog I wrote that I wanted to use my reading, cinema viewing, theatre and exhibition visits to help me with understanding the discipline of social policy and my place in the world.  This blog aims to be an inter-disciplinary space using culture to understand the practicalities of politics.  Helen Dunmore does something similar with her fiction.  She asks ordinary people to cope with the dramas of history and politics.  For example, The Siege (2001) focuses on the Levin family trapped inside Leningrad while Hitler’s army surrounds the city.  The Lie (2014) gives a raw portrayal of a soldier’s return from World War 1.  Exposure (2016) examines a marriage under the strain of the Cold War.  This novel does something different.  The big event is the French Revolution.  However, the triumph and horror of the ferocious events of Paris are experienced vicariously as the action of the novel is set in Bristol. Continue reading

He Named me Malala (2015)

malala posterMalala Yousafzai is a remarkable woman, with a spirit and voice that needs to be acknowledged and heard.  What happens to this voice when it is mediated through the lens of a documentary maker?  He Named Me Malala is a fascinating film, through which Malala’s charm and courage shines, but it is not perfect.  It starts with the mythologised context of Malala’s naming.  Her father chose her name which is from the Afghan folk heroine Malalai who rallied Pashtun fighters against the British in 1880.   This provides a context of colonialism and conflict and a narrative of defiance.  There was a powerful scene, narrated by her father (over animation) where on seeing the family tree populated entirely by men, he draws a line and adds her name.  For me, this is what that act symbolised:

“Women’s history has a dual goal: to restore women to history and to restore our history to women.” (Kelly-Gadol, 1987: 15)

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In Defence of Welfare II – Domestic Violence

Anybody studying social policy, social work or with a keen interest in social justice and politics should access this:

In Defence of Welfare 2

This is the full text of In Defence of Welfare II. In Defence of Welfare began in 2010 as a response to this government’s first Major Spending Review. Put together by the Social Policy Association, it was an attempt to anticipate the impact of such cuts to welfare on British society.

This second edition, In Defence of Welfare 2, brings together nearly fifty short pieces from a diverse range of academics, policy makers and journalists to explore the impact of those reforms at a time when a general election is looming.  The tone is overwhelmingly critical and assesses the impact of a government with little or no understanding of what it means to be disadvantaged or marginalised.  It covers a wide range of welfare issues.  Oh, and I wrote the chapter on domestic violence – which can be accessed here:

http://www.social-policy.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/29_robbins.pdf