Tony Bunyan’s retirement from Statewatch

All of us at MayDay Room send our congratulations and best wishes to Tony Bunyan on his retirement from being Director of Statewatch (and his appointment as Director Emeritus!) Tony has been running Statewatch since the early 1990s, having previously worked as a journalist, in police monitoring, and general trouble-making. The organisation moved their offices – and their extraordinary archive of grey literature – to the third floor of MayDay Rooms three years ago. We’re going to miss our weekly chats with him about minoritarian radical pamphlets, the horrendous violences of the European and British states, and the history of theatre. And we wish Chris Jones the best of luck in trying to fill Tony’s shoes, in a world in which states are becoming ever more secretive, border-obsessed, and authoritarian.

David Graeber Obituary

We were very sorry to learn of the death of our friend David Graeber last week. David had become a big name in the last decade, writing books that popularised anarchist, antiauthoritarian, and anti-bureaucratic thinking around the world, in the wake of the financial crisis a decade ago, and the Occupy Movement in which he played a significant part. But he was also a close friend, comrade, and collaborator with lots of people around MayDay Rooms, and in the communities that use our building – as well as a frequent attendee of our social nights. The first iteration of ‘Bullshit Jobs’ was published by Strike Magazine back in 2013, and he was a particularly close comrade especially to the Radical Artists Faction. In most ordinary circumstances, someone like David would have become an authority on questions from value to social relations to protest movements, but while his views were authoritative he was never one to speak from a podium, to pull rank, or to tell others what was right or wrong. We remember him instead as someone who turned up to everything, a committed activist, a lover of the streets and their movements, mixing hope with scorn, sitting through every meeting (often on the floor), nattering away. He also offered endless support and solidarity to so many people and causes – almost always out of sight, or in the depths of crowds. We send our love and condolences to his wife, Nika, and especially to all of our friends who were close to David. We’ll really miss him.

Stuart Christie Obituary

We were also very sorry to learn of the death of Stuart Christie, who deposited a collection of books to our archive two years ago. Stuart was a giant of British anarchism: not only an insurrectionary, but a writer, publisher, researcher, and archivist. He was always intent to turn the products of struggle into resources to strengthen the movement. While he was best known in the public eye for his run-ins with the law, he established organisations such as the ABC and Cienfuegos Press, he also maintained an anarchist film archive, as well as writing extensively on the history of Spanish anarchism. Jessica Thorne, who catalogued the books he deposited at MayDay Rooms, has written a tribute to him, which can be found here: https://maydayrooms.org/stuart-christie-obituaries/ alongside John Barker’s reflection on Stuart. He will be sorely missed. We send solidarity and best wishes to all of his comrades.

Audio Gutter Press: Call for Contributions for MayDay Radio

Deadline: 25th June 2020
More details on how to send your submissions here:https://audio.maydayrooms.org/audio-gutter-press

As part of MayDay Radio’s series of audio compilations in response to MDR’s archive collections this month we will be looking at Hackney Gutter Press. HGP first issue was published in April 1972 at Centerprise bookshop in Dalston. It describes an image of a borough both dilapidated and alive: empty and run down homes are turned into squats and community spaces. The rowdy and righteous citizens of Hackney – from the women’s liberation movement, to the claimants union, local kids and parents, squatters, the local tenants association, and anyone else who is ANGRY- are coming together to remake society.

Help us put together an audio collage, not unlike the Hackney Gutter Press did with words and paper in the ’70s! As always we want contributions from the literal to the oblique; interviews with neighbours, soundscapes, field recordings, snippets from the streets, recordings from tv, radio, and internet, fury, resistance – from the gutter looking up! 

Questions to start you off:

– Do we need a claimants union now? How do we navigate Universal Credit together?
– Can you aurally describe the kind of mutual aid that’s been happening in your area?
– Are you negotiating with your landlord? 
– Are you going on rent strike? 
– Are you in lack of space?
– What kind of care work are you doing? 
– Have you witnessed or experienced police harassment? 

More details here: https://audio.maydayrooms.org/audio-gutter-press

The Covid-19 virus has thrust us all into extraordinary times. We are afraid. We are hopeful for change. We are afraid again.

Many of us are uncertain of income, uncertain for ourselves and our loved ones, uncertain for our future – but we all have very different practical and emotional responses to the virus, to the lockdown, and to our previous lives.

In the midst of this crisis, we wanted to find a way to bring people together and share our different responses. This is an archive that will keep a record of as many of these feelings and effects as we can, to inform future organising and for the preservation of our collective memory. All contributions will remain in MayDay Rooms’ archive and will be processed once we exit the crisis. If you want to stay updated with the project subscribe to its mailing list.

Leave your contribution now! 

We see this project as a collective diary. We see it as a place where political subjects’ collective experience, trauma, hopes and aspirations can remain in history. We also see it as a kind of bookshelf where much of the great material being produced and published while everyone is on quarantine can be archived and revisited once we are out of the crisis. 

Everyone expresses themselves in different ways. As well as written contributions, we are giving the option for participants to record audio recordings as the voice transfers emotions that might otherwise be lost in the written word. The COVID-19 archive will therefore include your anonymous personal testimonies, in either written or audio form, as well as your contributed links to both the political analyses and opinions produced during the crisis globally.

We need to create the place we’ll meet again.
But we need to remember what this was.
Record your fears, thoughts, emotions, experiences and ideas for the future.
Don’t lose the moment, contribute now!


Sign up to our Archive Log

Whilst MayDay Rooms is shut we will be posting an item from our online archive leftove.rs every day, to keep you all occupied with a daily dose of radical ephemera. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see these posts. You can also sign up here for our weekly archive log, where we will collate all of the material and send out links.

Message us at log@maydayrooms.org if you have any particular requests for material and we will see what we can do. So far we have looked at Hackney Gutter Press, East London Big Flame, and Lucas, this week Midnight Notes!

More here: https://maydayrooms.org/archive-log/

Donation from Latin American Workers’ Association

MayDay Rooms would like to say a big thank you to Latin American Workers’ Association (LAWAS) for their generous donation of £590 to MayDay Rooms. MDR’s archive of LAWAS (2002-13) documents their crucial role in the independent Latin American workers organising in London and is an integral part of a seldom recorded history of worker militancy. Representatives of LAWAS said: “This centre in London (MDR) houses the Archive of the Association in addition to the archives of many other groups and projects that do not fit in official histories. ​We hope that the money serves to continue to maintain this archive and this space that remains a living center of activities of Latin American workers among others, and where we hope to continue to connect our past with our present.​ The fight continues!” For more information come and see the archive and read Jake Lagnado’s piece in “Towards a History of the Latin American Workers Association 2002–12” in Just Work? Migrant Workers’ Struggles Today edited by Aziz Choudry and Mondli Hlatshwayo (2015) 

More News from the archive!

The MayDay Rooms Archive has received two large deposits from Ed Emery. The first is a large collection of agitational ephemera, workers bulletins, news-clippings, and other materials from workers’ struggles at Ford between 1969 and the mid-1990s. It is probably the most complete set of documents in the country of these important antagonisms in the automobile industry, giving insights into recent developments in capitalist production, class composition, and industrial action in a time of de-industrialisation from the perspective of workers, strikers, and organisers. The collection, which includes materials from across the UK, focuses heavily on materials produced by workers and agitators at Ford’s Dagenham plant, with most of the material arising from the 1970s. During this time, the strikes at Ford were a leading edge in the battles of the working class, through the oil crisis to the Winter of Discontent. Meanwhile, these local struggles were brought into relation with international workers fighting in the car manufacturing, especially in Italy. The Ford archive is a transient loan to MayDay Rooms, and will ultimately be housed in the archive of the Bishopsgate Institute.
 Ed has also deposited a large section of his personal archive. The majority of this material consists of translations, especially from Italian radical theatre and from workerist and autonomist writings. The collection contains a large number of translations, edited typescripts, layouts, and manuscripts, from figures including Dario Fo, Franca Rame, Antonio Negri, Sergio Bologna, and Ferruccio Gambino. Alongside these translations are a range of original writings, layouts and typescripts from “Red Notes”, children’s stories, a “Songbook of the People of No Property”, as well as documentation of many other adventures and projects!

We will be cataloguing and digitising these archives in the coming months and will be organising some events around them, so keep your eye out for announcements in the future!

MayDay Radio has a amazing new website 

 Check out MayDay Radio’s beautiful new website where you can listen to all their recent audio experiments and get involved in upcoming productions. Special thanks to Hannah and Robbie for designing the site which so perfectly captures the archival boxes of the MDR archives.

News from the archive!

We had some great material coming in the last couple of months. Pop by between Wednesday and Friday 10am to 6pm to check them out or send us an email to arrange your visit.

Maurice Herson hasdonated a collection of 1970s ephemera. This includes an extremely rare short run of the Newcastle alternative paper Muther Grumble from 1971-1972, alongside materials ranging fromsituationist pamphlets, local ephemera from both Newcastle and London, and a number of peace movement publications and newspapers.

– Sue Aubrey donated a large number of issues of Time OutPrivate Eye, and City Limits – publications on which her late husband Crispin Aubrey worked – from the 1960s through to the early 1980s. These publications sit in our archive alongside a new special collection in the Statewatch Archive, which deals with materials from the ABC official secrets act trial of 1978, in which Crispin Aubrey was a defendant. They also compliment our existing archive of Not Time Out, the publication produced by the striking workers at Time Out in 1980.

– Phil Asquith and Hilary Wainwright added a new box of materials to the Lucas Plan archive. This material was collected during the 1970s by a member of management at Lucas, and was much later released to members of the Lucas Combine. This new part of the collection sheds an extraordinary light on the management perspective on 1970s trade union militancy, and their efforts to monitor and undermine the Combine’s efforts to transform the factory according to principles of socially useful production. Spokesman Press have also now supplemented the collection with a number of books related to the alternative plan, including a number written by members of the Lucas Combine.

– Tom Woolley has donated seven boxes of materials. These include a large personal collection of documents relating to the student movement between 1968 and 1970 both in the UK and across Europe, including ephemera, publications, as well as personal correspondence and manuscripts. The collection also includes a complete run of Community Action magazine, from the 1970s, which deals with radical approaches to housing. A significant part of the collection consists of materials around radical architectureshort-life housing, and squatting during the 1970s and 1980s. These central parts of the collection are supplemented by a range of anarchist, left communist, and radical ephemera and publications, with a particular focus on material produced by Solidarity and adjacent groups.

– The London Street Commune collection has been supplemented by two new files of materials – including both original documents and more recent reflections on the squat at 121 Piccadilly – donated by “Birmingham Dave.”

– Concrete Action and Peter Maloney deposited two boxes of material around radical architecture predominantly from the 1970s. The documents include materials produced by the Architects Revolutionary Council, as well as campaigning materials about squatting, community campaigns, and resistance to evictions due to redevelopment.

Pamphlet Series: Open Call


MayDay Rooms is launching a new pamphlet series. Now we are looking for content! In the first year we intend to publish a number of a pamphlets containing reproductions of documents from our archive alongside creative and critical responses. Each pamphlet will contain two or three contributions, chosen to compliment each other. We are looking for people to select material from the archive for reproduction, and then to produce essayistic or artistic responses that can be published in a pamphlet format, both in hard copy and as an ePub. These responses could be anything from manifestos to collages, from articles to comics.

For more information on how to apply click here

Call for submissions

MayDay Rooms is looking to commission an archival guide to accompany digital archiving project Leftovers. The aim of the guide is to help people explore, make links between and expand on areas of the online collection. We are very open to the form that this guide might take. They can be thematic, oblique, tangential, straight, myopic or expansive!

We are particularly interested in proposals that incorporate:
multimedia engagement; shows an interesting and dynamic approach to historical and archival research; proposes new ways of reading and navigating digitised material or links historical material in the online collection to current and future struggles.

For more information on how to apply click here 

Deadline for application is 7th May 

We will be having an open evening on 25th April between 6.30-8.30pm to give people who wish to apply a opportunity to look through our collections and work-in-progress digital archive and see what you might want to work with.

New accessions in the archive for January

We recently received a large collection (9 boxes) of eco-anarchist materials and publications from the 1990s and early 2000s. The collection comprises American and British Earth First magazines and newsletters, as well as runs of other radical environmental and anarchist publications, including Anarchy magazine, Green Anarchist, Black Clad Messenger, Subversion, alongside many other zines, occasional publications and ephemera. The collection documents actions from around the world that were influenced by the proliferation of eco-anarchist ideas, from the inspiration drawn from the Zapatistas in Chiapas, through to the anti-roads movement in the UK, and European summit-hopping at the turn of the millennium. We will be organising an event, in which we’ll start unpacking and organising these boxes in March. Watch this space!

We have received a collection of 1970s ephemera from Maurice Herson. This includes an extremely rare short run of the Newcastle alternative paper Muther Grumble from 1971-1972, alongside materials ranging from situationist pamphlets to peace movement publications.

Seth Wheeler has deposited two boxes of materials. Some of this collection is a personal collection of ephemera from social movements during the cycle of struggles from the late 1990s through the early 2000s. Other parts of the deposit are a wide-ranging collection of radical ephemera from the 1960s to the present, including some rare student newspapers from 1968 and lots of other fun stuff.

A number of people who were part of the 1999 UCL Occupation against the introduction of tuition fees are putting together an archive of materials from the time. They have recently deposited a number of Hi8 and minidisc recordings, and are building a paper archive too, which will eventually be housed at MayDay Rooms. You can find out more about the project here: https://ucpoundsweseepeople.wordpress.com/

Finally, we recently received approximately 100 issues of Searchlight Magazine – which reported on far right movements. The magazines run from the 1970s to the 2000s and include detailed reports of fascist and racist organisations and actions both in the UK and internationally, and anti-racist and anti-fascist responses. The collection includes issues from the whole period but is not complete, so we will be cataloguing it soon and will try to fill the gaps.