This assignment combined my passion for conflict journalism with my English Literature degree. Through analysing three texts, I identify the raw and tragic cost of the war on terror. The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim, Home fire by Kamila Shamsie and Exit West by Moshin Hamid allow a western audience to see the human cost of the war on terror on a personal and emotional level; a perspective often overlooked by mainstream media. As America withdraw from Afghanistan, there is no better time to reflect on the lasting impact of the war on terror and the many nations targeted by America and the West in general.
This is a thoughtful and focused discussion of literary treatments of the 'war on terror', which explores both the politics of the war and the human cost. The learning outcomes have been met with success, with a knowledgeable discussion of the history of contemporary conflict and an insightful study of the three chosen texts.
The work is well structured and includes a clear introduction and conclusion, with the latter rounding off the argument extremely well. Regarding the primary texts, there is a high level of knowledge and comprehension on display - the interpretation is good, the level of primary quotation high and the analysis mostly pertinent (although close reading of passages could have expanded on occasion with more discussion of diction, imagery and symbolism). The level of critical quotation is very good and the discussion of the 'war on terror' reveals a keen interest in the topic, backed up by an extensive bibliography (although more articles on your chosen texts/authors could have been located in Onesearch and the electronic reading list). The work is also well written, with an expressive, formal prose and good referencing and bibliographic layout (although a few errors appear in the former).
Overall, this is a strong piece of writing, with an informed and detailed approach to the question topic.
A strong analysis of a set of complex and distressing primary texts. Good contextualisation and good references to secondary sources.
I now officially have a first degree in English Literature! The decision to go to university changed my life unimaginably. At the age of 16, I left school and spent a year working because I was told that I wasn’t ‘academic’. After deciding, I could and would do more, I went back to sixth form and got my A levels. Again, I was told that I wasn’t ‘academic’ enough and that I wouldn’t achieve at university. So, I ended up working for another year until the drive to learn pulled me back to education and university. This decision led to being estranged for first year as my family disagreed with this decision; however, my life began to flourish across the board year after year! The university even paid for me to study in Athens for a year! University may not be for all people but don’t let anyone else make that decision for you. I have thrived at Brighton University and had the best four years of my life… so far!
For this assignment, I had to create a program for one of Shakespeare’s plays. I have always loved Othello, from the first time I studied it in GCSE, then again in A-Level and finally for my degree. This 2015 production of Othello is outstanding. Casting Iago black allows the genuine, toxic relationship between Othello and Iago to be exposed in-depth, without race offering a simplistic answer to the betrayal. The program delves into the history of the Moors in relation to Othello and a man that inspired Shakespeare to write the play, along with interviews with actors and the director. If you are a fan of Othello, I would 100% recommend watching the 2015 RSC production, directed by Iqbal Khan.
On this assignment I received a first, this is the markers comments: ‘Great looking programme, well though out, and lucidly argued. The choice of different perspectives is well done, and the serious focalisation on Leo Africanus well researched and a good counterpoint to the way in which many viewers might think about the play.’
For my dissertation, I combined my interests in conflict and history with my degree in English literature. I decided to focus on the first time the British invaded Afghanistan (1839) and the subsequent withdrawal from the country (1842). One hundred and seventy years later, and again we see a withdrawal from Afghanistan. The fate of the country is unknown, however, it isn’t looking great. The Taliban have already re-taken many districts and captured a considerable amount of military equipment. It is hugely frustrating to see the West make the same mistakes continuously in regards to Afghanistan. If you are interested in Afghanistan's current affairs, I would recommend reading my dissertation to understand where the relationship between the British and the country/people of Afghanistan began. I am confident that if politicians studied past engagements in a little more detail, conflicts such as the most recent invasion of Afghanistan could and would be avoided. I am proud to announce that I achieved a first on this dissertation. A massive thank you goes out to my supervisor, who supported me through my study and research, despite the topic not being taught on my course.
Feedback from marker: This is a strong piece of work that shows a real engagement with imperial literature and history (a topic not extensively covered on the course). The argument - on the changing paradigm of British representation of Afghanistan in the mid-nineteenth century - is a fascinating one, well supported by literary, historical and biographical research.
Overall, the work is well ordered and focused throughout, with a clear introduction and a powerful conclusion, drawing links to the Western discourses on Afghanistan in the contemporary period. At times, the shift in paradigm that each chapter explores could have been flagged up more clearly, and the structure of each chapter could have been tightened, reducing the small instances of repetition that occur. At the same time, analysis of some of the longer quotations could have expanded with a wider range of diction and imagery commented upon, and more research into imperial discourse would have improved the theoretical underpinning of the dissertation. Still, the use of Said and Spurr is effective, the historical context is clearly detailed and the biographies of the writers are drawn in usefully, with some excellent commentary on reception, readership and national loyalty. The work is also engagingly written, with expressive prose and proficient referencing and bibliographic layout.
Overall, an intelligent and informed piece of work that clearly communicates your historical interests, as evidenced in the very impressive bibliography.
Feedback from secondary marker: Very good dissertation. The focus on representations and their analysis demonstrating the paradigm shift is very good all through.
Formative comment: It would have been interesting to reflect on the motivations for the British to go to Afghanistan and to compare those then and now.
Overall a well informed and solidly documented piece of work with good contextualisation and pertinent analysis.
When I took up the website from South Coast Conferences the site was near impossible to find on Google. Over the past four years I have relaunched the website twice and work continually publishing on the site frequently. Last week we relaunched the site with new branding with the help of Mammoth. Not only does the site look incredible, it is now easily accessible on all search engines and user friendly. It has been amazing working for South Coast Conferences over the last four years, the website has been a challenging at times but has also been one of my best projects.
We have just got back from ten amazing days in the North of England. These are my best ten images from the road trip, however, Elly will be doing a blog post with all the details of the trip, both good and bad, so keep an eye out.
On the 15th of May, hundreds of people gathered at Brighton clocktower to protest the ongoing attacks on Gaza and Palestine by Israel. After a hour of speeches and performances the protest then marched through the city, then along the sea front. Undeterred by sudden downpours of rain.
A friend of mine asked if I could help her run a photo shoot for her final year fashion project. On accepting the shoot it was then all about researching a great location. Thankfully, not far from Brighton is the historic town of Lewes, which had many great locations for the 'gothic' look my friend wanted to go for. After some consideration we decided Lewes Priory Ruins would be the best location for the shoot.
For the upcoming summer season, South Coast Conferences asked me to take some exterior and interior photos for their booking.com account. They wanted a special focus on the Coivd safety set up in the reception area. The accommodation will be available in Brighton and Eastbourne this summer.
Director Simon Godwin has produced a production of Hamlet unlike any other, with Paapa Essiedu taking centre stage as the RSC’s first black Hamlet. Breathing new life into the classic Shakespeare play, Godwin’s interpretation reimagines the cast and modernizes the costumes to bring a refreshing energy to the stage of the Royal Shakespeare theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon. (see full review below)
In this production of one of Shakespeare’s early works, director Justin Audibert substituted the patriarchal society of 1590 for a matriarchal system. Shakespeare’s original play was intended as a Comedy; however, with the blatant expression of domestic and emotional abuse, it is challenging to portray it as such today. Audibert’s reimagining of the tale, swapping gender roles, shined a powerful light on domestic abuse. (See link below for full review)
The brutality of the World Wars exposed the fraudulent concept of European ‘civilisation’. Having used perceptions of Europe's sophisticated and cultured societies to justify systems of global dominance and oppression, the spectacle of war, destroying the monuments of ‘civilised’ cities and butchering their subjects in barbaric scenes of violence and depravity, showed that 'civilisation' was only ever an illusion. (Click on the link below to read full essay)
On Saturday thousands of protesters marched through London chanting “Freedom”.
At the anti-lockdown protest in November, we saw a zero-tolerance approach from the police and over 150 arrests. This weekend the police took a considerable step back and, after early attempts at preventing the protestors from gathering had failed, allowed the march to continue through the city centre. Breaches to Covid regulation led to over 30 arrests.
Protesters were told to head to central London and mill around until 11:00, when the location would be announced to meet, using the popular messaging app Telegram. This meant the police could not lock down a specific area and prevent protesters from meeting up. As the location was announced, Hyde Park Corner, thousands of people flocked to the park and mixed with the general population. The police attempted to block all exits to the park, but it was difficult to differentiate between protesters and members of the public.
At 12:00, coloured smoke flares were set off, and thousands of protesters emerged from the general public and created a force more significant than the police expected. The police didn’t have the numbers to contain the protest in the park, and the rally moved onto the streets, stopping traffic and unrestricted by the police who followed the protest but did very little to interfere.
Once it was clear that the protest wouldn’t be stopped, the City Police moved ahead of the march to stop traffic. On asking a police officer when they would stop the rally, he replied, “when the protesters want to stop, I am here to make sure they are safe”. And this is the vibe many of the officers gave off on the day.
The protest, now numbering thousands, marched East from Hyde Park, down Oxford Street, carrying on until Cornhill, before turning back towards Parliament. It remained peaceful, and by the time the protest arrived at Trafalgar Square at around 16:00, they had marched over 15km.
The police in London resisted using force and allowed the protest to proceed peacefully. As the government looks to push through a bill restricting peaceful demonstrations, it is essential to acknowledge that there will only be a rise in violent protests and riots.
2020 was a problematic year, to say the least, with the pandemic and all the issues associated with the virus many would like to forget the year. Despite the difficulties of living in Greece during the first lockdown and then studying remotely on returning to the UK, I am thankful for the year and the fantastic images that came from it.
During the First World War, the Brighton Pavilion was used as a hospital for Indian troops. There is a certain discourse in Brighton that the Indian troops loved it in Brighton and England as a whole, however, a few letters conflict with this discourse.
Red Dead Redemption 2 has finally been released after eight years in the making; the big question Is: does this amount of time correlate to gameplay? Moreover, does it live up to Rockstar’s track record?
Since the release of Grand Theft Auto V in 2010, Rockstar have put all their resources and time into creating Red Dead Redemption 2, choosing to focus on one game rather than releasing several different games. However, did this decision pay off? The answer is YES! This game is by far Rockstar’s greatest achievement to date with amazing attention to detail accompanied by lucid graphics. This is the must-buy game of the year, and here's why.
The campaign is immersive and takes a minimum of sixty hours to complete… yes, it will take at least two and a half days to complete, but most likely, a lot longer. The story starts off slowly, and if you are like me and want to pick up the controller and take the position of the greatest gunslinger in the West, you will have to be patient, as the first hour of the campaign is mainly clips and small tasks in the snowy mountains of America, but, after you descend into the western plains, the game picks up and picks up fast. Which brings me to the next aspect of the game to love; you can pretty much do anything that you want… if you feel like fishing then sure go-ahead fish, if you want to rob a train then, yep, that can be done; hunting, theatre, barbers the list goes on. But the point I am trying to make is this game really allows you to immerse yourself into the life of the Wild West during the nineteenth century. If like me, you were or still are a massive fan of Western Films then this game is a dream come true.
The attention to detail in this game creates the magnificent environment in which you play. Every part of the world reacts as it would do in real life; if you kill an animal it will decompose and attract predators, if you fail to feed your character he will become skinny and weak, but overfeed him and he will become plump and slow… it's realistic to the extent that in cold weather the testicles of horses will shrink! Imagine a game that pays that much attention to detail… some would say it’s overkill, but I say, “Bring on the shrivelled balls”, as this advancement in graphics sets a high standard for the rest of the gaming world to follow.
The game overall is a glorious creation, and is certainly worth the £50 average price that shops are asking. If you are expecting the game to dramatically go down in price over the next few months as is usual with most games, then don’t, as the online is still set to be released at the end of the month. Ultimately, there is no time like the present so if you want this game then get it, as it’s worth every pound.
There’s a group of first year students in the back of a man’s car… each handing over £450 to a person they only met that day. You wouldn’t think this was a legal or comfortable situation, however, this is the way many of the students are pressured into reserving their house for second year. This is how I reserved my current house.
Once the students (if lucky enough) manage to secure a property, the issues don’t cease. They are hit with ridiculously high guarantor fees and deposits that realistically they know they aren’t going to get back and definitely not in full. You may be wondering what they expect to receive for this excessive amount of money… you wouldn’t expect to have faeces spraying out of your sink or a hole in your bathroom floor allowing people sitting for dinner to watch you sh*t, but this is the reality of student accommodation. The majority of their student loans are being spent on under-par accommodation at outrageous prices, being pushed higher by the quantity of students living in Brighton. This needs to be regulated.
Jay Bone is a second-year student who studies at Brighton University. He told me how the estate agents took £150 as a guarantor fee, but when his mother “didn’t earn enough” to qualify as his guarantor, they then fined him £150, which she then paid. Jay thought it outrageous for someone to be fined such a large sum of money for essentially not having enough money. In the end, he had to ask his step dad to become guarantor which was another £150. I spoke to an estate agent, who would rather have his identity kept anonymous, about this situation and he told me that the “the fee will depend on the referencing company used”. He went on to explain that his company charges £90 guarantor fee and out of that £70 will go to the referencing company and the rest is kept by the estate agents. He made it clear that with the change of guarantor it is customary for the charge to be applied again, however, he did say that charging £150 guarantor fee is “pretty unreasonable”. There is hope, however, as he told me “From next year tenants will not be charged at all”, and that all the fees will be charged to the Landlord. The estate agent said that the ‘Tenant Fee Ban’ should be coming into effect in April 2019. This is good news, but begs the question; why have we been paying these fees to start with?
After paying the London prices for accommodation in Brighton, you would think the quality of the accommodation would mirror the amount of money you are putting in, unfortunately, this isn’t the case for a lot of students. It was not the case for Amy Betteridge who studies English Literature and Creative writing at Brighton University. When I spoke to Amy, she told me of the scenario mentioned earlier with human faeces squirting all over her bathroom covering a “metre distance” from the sink which also included a housemate’s leg. This situation left Amy feeling “very frustrated, especially to be told by the plumber that the sink hadn’t been correctly installed in the first place”. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning. Amy went on to tell me how her “room stank of cigarette smoke” when she moved in, a problem that should have been dealt with before the move in date. The cleaning process meant she had to leave the room empty for a month, keeping all her belongings in the communal area, impacting the rest of the household. The estate agents did fix all the problems, but not always well. One plumber they sent “changed the floorboards and hammered them down onto a pipe causing it to leak, which made more holes in our kitchen ceiling and the fire alarm and light in the kitchen filled with water”, a second plumber was sent out to fix this. You might be wondering at this point, what compensation Amy received for all these issues, bearing in mind she wasn’t able to live in her room for a month. A month’s rent reimbursed maybe? No… how does £70 Sainsburys voucher sound, to be shared with the house “that worked out at around £14 each”. Amy as you would expect, thought it “disgraceful for all of the problems we faced”. Clearly there are good and bad cases, but when people are paying the amount of money they are, the bad cases should be a rarity, not common place.
You may be wondering at this point how frequently situations like this occur, so I contacted Brighton SolFed whose motto is “an injury to one is an injury to all”. They are an ‘anarcho-syndicalist union based in Brighton’ and I knew they could give more depth to this situation. James Woodrow, a member of the group told me; “every week we have people coming to us for help, this can be anything from professionals disputing with landlords over rent increases to students trying to get their deposits back from estate agents”. He made it clear that issues with accommodation are common and that SolFed is here to help those in need as they have “won over ten thousand pounds for tenants, in repairs, reclaimed deposits and compensation”. Most importantly, he wanted the public not to take the estate agents’ word as final and not to give up; “if you find yourself backed in a corner then we will help get you out of it”.
Estate agents in Brighton have a captive market. They know that every year there will be a massive demand for accommodation between Sussex and Brighton University students. There is nothing in place to prevent the increase in rent, however, there is a need for tighter regulations to prevent the decay of accommodation quality.
A group of young men, some crawling through thick mud with barbed wire overhead, scrambling over a twelve-foot wall. All in identical green uniforms, A80 rifles slung across their shoulders. The only way of recognition being the surname taped onto the front of their Kevlar helmets.
To the eye there's nothing out of the ordinary about this scene, but what if I told you one of the men is twice the age of all of us in training, married with children and with a successful civilian career.
Mark Dunkley joined the British Army at forty-five, an age you would expect most soldiers to be leaving with a full pension. Why? Now, two years later I met with Captain Mark Dunkley in the Victory Services Club, London.
Mark approached me in the reception (all the memories I had of the man returned, the repetitive drills, the endless lectures and tenacious training). He is a man in his forties, well-dressed with dark fitted trousers and a light blue Oxford button down chequered shirt. He is of medium height, with a broad figure and chiselled yet youthful face enhanced by his blue eyes and dark blond hair. His familiar smile instantly instils a sense of comfort as we shake hands as old comrades. He made his way towards the marble topped bar offering a range of British drinks, asking me what I wanted. As he ordered, I seated myself on a low leather chair with an equally low old oak table; seconds later he joined me.
Mark doesn’t look like the traditional soldier, because he isn’t one. He is part of a new heritage unit within the British Army dubbed the “Modern Monuments Men” by The Telegraph Newspaper and the Cultural Property Protection Unit by the military, which Mark referrers to as “CPPU”. Being a new unit, little has been released about its role within the British Army, however, Mark was eager to tell of how the unit’s role has been conflated with that of the Monuments Men during World War Two; ‘The CPPU are being called the “Modern Monuments Men” but the two roles are very different’. He continued, ‘the role of the modern CPPU will be two-fold, they’ll be an element of training in the UK, to make sure that every soldier in training is aware of cultural aspects, there will also be a new cultural heritage overlay, for any operational maps.’ Overall, Mark made it clear to me that it will be the role of the unit to advise commanders whether a site can be attacked and the impact of damaging sites of heritage and cultural importance. The CPPU will still perform the “conflated” roles stated in The Telegraph, such as “protecting art, and archaeology, investigating looting, bringing smuggling gangs to justice”, however, again, Mark emphasised how the role is ‘Less physical and more intelligence lead’ to meet requirements of modern warfare.
Joining the army in your mid-forties , isn’t the career path many would consider, however, to Mark it was fulfilling a missed opportunity earlier in this life; “I have always had a really nerdy interest in the armed forces (…) since going to the Farnborough air show with my dad (aged ten) I knew I wanted to be a fighter pilot”, but unfortunately, his dream job was stolen from him when ‘George Younger stood up in parliament and said, “no more air crew”’ announcing cuts in defence spending, meaning he lost the chance to enrol with the Royal Air Force, even after accepting and completing a University Scholarship. Little did he know then, his degree in archaeology would lead to his specialist role within the British Army today.
Mark’s civilian career as an underwater archaeologist has been and will continue being as important and as that of his military career, however, even he understands that archaeology to many isn’t as striking; “the challenges for archaeology in general, is engaging people with bits of pot” because often a piece of pottery just isn’t as adrenaline pumped as war stories. However, Mark was keen to tell me of his find that uncovered the disturbing effects of war and eighteenth century colonialisation; “I was diving and found some human bone on this wreck site, but it was black and had been burnt and even more terrifying was an iron bracelet on this piece of forearm.” This led to Mark questioning “What had led to this individual dying in this heat?” and the answer was horrifying; “He was a slave, when the ship arrived in the harbour it was too dark to unload the human cargo, so they were going to wait until the morning to do it. One of the navel tactics at the time against an enemy fleet was to send in fire ships… So, the Dutch sent in fire ships, not realising perhaps that they were cargos of slaves, so the slave ships burnt and then these thousands of poor souls burnt to death.” If Mark hadn’t found the bone fused with metal, then this terrible event would have been forgotten to time. The piece of bone didn’t just “bring history alive” but it also had direct relevance to the population of Trinidad and Tobago now, as it is their heritage.
Marks career in underwater archaeology has given him unique speciality that the Army needs to catch up with other nations. The United Kingdom is not the last but the latest country to start a Cultural Property Protection Unit, behind Russia, Austria and Italy. Subsequently Mark was “Latched on to, and told to get himself through Sandhurst”. The aim: to prevent heritage being damaged and to limit the destruction of war on sites that simply cannot be rebuilt. This new aspect to warfare creates a debate that Mark is well aware of, as he asked me; “where do you value human life over protecting some Greek stones?”.
During the year of 2020, there has been a massive amount of disruption to university life as the majority of learning has moved online due to the pandemic. Many students are now calling for a refund from the government as they feel they have not received the level of education which they paid for.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan started on the 27th of September and a ceasefire was brokered with the support of Russia on the 10th of November. Overall, the intense fighting lasted a month and two weeks. Over 5000 soldiers were killed in the recent conflict and more than 150 civilians. With our guest today we will be discussing how the conflict as a whole was not reported and published by the UK media and how there was been very little to no information on the thousands of people displaced by the war.
I follow a few conflict journalists on social media and saw the horrific scenes as thousands of civilians had to leave their homes as the territory has been handed over to the Azerbaijanis, some of the civilians even burning their homes to not allow the Azerbaijanis to live in them. However, since seeing the mass migration of refugees leave their homes I have heard very little news on where they have gone and if they have a home to live in. There are no numbers online that can tell us how many people have been displaced.
Hopefully, this conversation with Alara will help answer some of these questions and if not then at least it may help us think more about why we aren’t getting the answers we want and need. The name of the interviewee has been changed to protect her as there has been a massive amount of cyber attacks and abuse given to those seen to support Armenia by groups such as the Grey Wolves, a Turkish Fascist group and Azerjanini groups.
I would like to thank Emile Ghessen (@emileghessen) for reporting on this conflict and allowing me to use his materials in this podcast.
Please check out these charities and give support where you can:
Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust
Children of Armenia Fund
Roof for Refugees from Artsakh (Facebook)
Women's Resource Centre
Armenia Women's Rights House Real World
Real People NorArar (Facebook)
Help us bring New Year's Miracle to Artsakh's displaced children (Facebook)
On Saturday the 28th of November, hundreds of protesters headed into central London in an attempt to show their anger and displeasure at the current lockdown regulations.
From the offset, the police use a tactic of isolate and disrupt. The location to which the protesters were supposed to meet continuously changed throughout the day; owing to the rapid response and arrests of the police. Due to the new lockdown laws police were able to arrest anyone who had a banner or showed any sign of protesting and they used this newfound power to significant effect. Anyone who so much as started a chant or raised a sign was arrested.
When I asked one of the liaison officers what was happening at Kings Cross, one of the supposed meeting points for protesters. He replied; 'a load of idiots who don't believe in Covid want to meet here, and we are going to arrest them'. Arrest them they did, there were more than 150 arrests on Saturday, and I ended up walking over 15km trying to keep up with the ever-moving police.
One of the difficulties that the protesters had was the lack of cohesion. I asked many protesters why they were in London, and I got such a broad array of answers. Some were anti-lockdown, some were anti-mask, some were anti-vaccine, and some didn't believe in Covid at all. The protesters didn't have one voice and, except for a gathering in Hyde park toward the end of the day, the protesters were spread all around different parts of London attempting to link up.
Saturday was a great example of what the police can achieve with more powers; however, the debate is whether they should have these powers at all. I am not a protestor, and I can't entirely agree with the protesters in many ways; however, the power the police had to arrest anyone they wanted was frightening. As lockdown ends in a few days, maybe we can reflect and give out a sigh of relief that the police in the UK will not have these unprecedented powers for much longer.
Footage from the day:
I have been interested in conflicts across the world for a good few years now; however, it was the many, many protests and clashes with police in Athens that gave me my first taste of recording and reporting myself.
I was lucky enough to have an Erasmus year in Athens. During this year, I saw molotovs being thrown, and I had my first spicy taste of tear gas. It was being at the protest armed with nothing but a camera which got me into photographing and reporting on the clashes I witnessed between the Athenian youth and the anti-riot police.
It was my experience in Greece that projected me to the photojournalist I am today, and this is the start of my journey and this blog will tell where my journey will go.