The London Housing Struggles Archive is a collection of materials related to housing campaigns, squatting and rent strikes. The housing campaigns’ boxes are covering struggles from two different time periods, one spreading from 1975 to 1991 and the other starting around 2010 and reaching the present.
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MayDay Rooms organises 6-month residency program of projects that creatively contribute to our collections and the practice of archival ‘activation', which guides the organisation. At MDR we aim to create dynamic situations – not to sit passively on archival holdings. A commitment to linking historical material to contemporary social struggles guides our archival practices: how we collect, exhibit, and disseminate material. These residencies seek to create a space to engage with practice-led archival research that experiments with new models of 'activation' and helps us to develop our own.
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Housing Struggles ArchiveDo you want to help build a housing struggles archive?
We are trying to document both the unprecedented scale of the attacks on social and affordable (and adequate!) housing in London over the last years on social housing and the amazing resistance people have been showing. We think it's fundamental to preserve the history of those campaigns, which in the future will inform and inspire more resistance. The collection will contain material from radical housing campaigns in London from the past five years, with the hope of contextualising the materials gathered in longer histories of struggle. We are aiming to archive materials in three main areas: social housing campaigns, rent strikes and squatting, and housing co-ops. We hope at the end of the project to have a large archive, based at MayDay Rooms but also freely available online, which will remain useful to activists and new social movements and will comprise an important resource for future struggles. Part of our project will be to also run some training workshops on self-archiving and digitisation for radicals, as well as to organise screenings and discussions on contemporary housing struggles.
We are very excited to announce the new residency project that will be starting at MDR this September. These projects were chosen by an open call out and have be generously supported by Arts Council England.
Where Were You in 1992?
We were fighting racism and fascism on the streets of London. We were trying to resist and survive the violent ethno-nationalism in Yugoslavia. Where were you in 92'? What political actions or groups were you involved in, in 1992? What were your modes of activism? What technologies were you using to communicate? Moving between the personal and the collective, between then and now, these questions will direct our visual and textual exploration of the MayDay Rooms archives. We also encourage and invite others to help us explore these questions. We are looking for gestures of resistance and action, those that persist, and those that have fallen away. Familiar and little known materials and images will be recombined by using audio-visual interviews and computer-based analysis side by side. We will find elements of recognition, identification, resemblance and difference.1992.maydayrooms.org
Amanda Egbe is an artist, filmmaker and Lecturer in Media Production at the University of Bedfordshire. Rastko Novaković is an artist working with the moving image, active in trade union and housing struggles. Together, over the past 16 years, they have created short and feature films, participatory videos, web-based projects, expanded cinema and a site-specific panorama.
Justice Matter at the Old Bailey
All archives of the bourgeois courtroom are the property of the state. All right to report from within courts has been yielded to unassailable news media. For victims of the law, both its courts and the violence that flows from them, the stories that remain from court buildings are only the scars left in memories and in living an eviscerated life. Official transcripts or tales from the press gallery are not a true or just record of state violence meted out by judges, CPS lawyers and probation officers. This project is an attempt to imagine such a record for victims - the abused and criminalised. Five minutes walk from 88 Fleet Street is the Central Criminal Court (The Old Bailey). Between it and archives held at MayDay Rooms, I will use this residency opportunity to write and produce a short video essay and to devise a lecture
Wail Qasim is a writer and campaigner for liberation and social justice with a commitment to continued radical organising and producing work that supports marginalised struggles.
Long Lost Relatives
The utility of an archive can often be assessed by the gaps in its collection. Oral testimony and memory conspire to illustrate lacuna that exist in such repositories- nevertheless- archives are rarely held to address gaps in the present. This is especially prescient when we consider the Mayday Room’s raison d'etre ‘to safeguard historical material and connect it with contemporary struggle’ . While tactics and strategies of the past often fall out of practice, no longer presenting themselves as adequate tools due to social, political or technical transformations in workplaces, communities or society, equally tactics may disappear from view with the collapse of a publication or a group in which they found a life. This project seeks to answer what tactics, viewpoints and strategies can be excavated from the past that are now missing from contemporary terrains of struggle and how, if at all, the re-emergence of these practices could impact on the present (given the transformations in society mentioned above). Through a close reading of archival material, a strategy, a viewpoint or a tactic will be identified that has drifted out of social movement practice. This will then be tested against contemporary conditions (perhaps forming a group or a publication to test its validity, while making explicit links to the archive from which it originated).
Seth Wheeler is a founding member of the political organization Plan C, which draws from many radical traditions including both Marxism, anarchism and feminism.
My father, Frank Crichlow, was a West Indian immigrant whose restaurant ‘The Mangrove’ became London’s epicentre of resistance to racism through the 1960’s to 1980's. Today, I am developing an archive based feature documentary to tell the story of the Mangrove community, the Mangrove 9 Trials and the uniquely black and British untold story that explores the landscape of UK political, legal, and social constructs since the 60s and how they have been challenged.
Amandla Crichlow is a founding member of Mangrove Productions.