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July At MayDay Rooms

Prison a Survival Guide
Wednesday 3rd July, 7- 9pm

Carl Cattermole’s new book ‘Prison: A Survival Guide’ has just been published by Penguin. The book was originally published as a pamphlet, created as a guide to people facing prison or already inside. The new edition expands this with contributions from a wide range of prisoners, including young people and LGBTQ* people currently serving time. As well as offering practical advice, the book serves as an important provocation against the entire carceral system, while pinpointing its diverse material brutalities, and ways of resisting them. Carl will be in conversation with John Barker, who has also written memoirs about his time inside in ‘Bending The Bars’. The discussion will consider the changing conditions of prison and prison resistance over the last half a century, as well as giving Carl a chance to tell us about the book!

We are also looking to expand our existing prison archives over the next few months, and if you have any material that might be of interest in relation to this then we can speak about it on the night!


THE FORD SLIDE SHOW – 1976
w/ Ed Emery
Friday 12th July, 7:30- 9:30pm

This will be an illustrated talk about the politics of the lay-off struggles at the Ford Motor Company in Dagenham in the mid 1970s, and its implications for class composition analysis.

The core of this presentation is 150 photographic slides illustrating the lay-off struggles at Ford. The material is drawn from the history of the Ford Workers’ Group at Dagenham, and from Ed Emery’s extensive archive of documents of struggles in the British motor industry from 1969 to 1989. That
archive is currently being digitised for storage at May Day Rooms.

The talk will locate the Dagenham experience within a broader discussion of class composition analysis, with special reference to the “operaismo” (“workerist”) and “autonomia operaia” (“workers’ autonomy”) currents of Italian Marxism. The intention is to re-launch a “workers’ inquiry” project, to study those important struggles of the 1970-80s.

Ed Emery is the founder of the Red Notes publishing venture. He is also a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS]. His occasional blog can be found here:https://notesfrombelow.org/blog


GLC Scanathon with GLC Story Project 1981-86
Thursday 25th July, 7- 9pm

Before it’s abolition by the Thatcher Government in 1986 the Greater London Council (1981-1986) was a significant experiment in municipal socialism. It’s legacy is still important today not just for understanding the history of the left in London but also the direction of the current Labour leadership. Come sift through material from: the People’s Planning Unit, City Limits Magazine, Arts and Recreation Department, Police Monitoring and Research Unit, Women’s Committee and much more, and help us digitise and catalogue this important material.

The GLC Story will be there to give content to the material and retell the history of the institution, and its relationship to communities and social movements of the time. The GLC Story is an intergenerational oral history project. Listen and see their work here: www.glcstory.co.uk


Vocabulários em Movimento /\ Vidas em resistência
Friday 26th July, 6:30- 8:30pm

Join us for a discussion on anti-gentrification initiatives in Rio de Janeiro. Cristina Ribas and Lucas Sargentelli have been involved in a research and visual arts militant work with Vila Autódromo community in Rio de Janeiro (violently evicted during the preparation for the Olympics).

The project has been developed in dialogue with networks of resistance against gentrification in Rio de Janeiro and against violent exploitation of territories and lives. Cristina will be in London for a while and will present the work they’ve done for inspiration and experience sharing.

Some of the work can be found here https://www.goethe.de/ins/br/pt/kul/sup/mem/ciu/rio.html – look at Vocabulários em Movimento /\ Vidas em resistência.


Radicals, Rebels and Rioters: A guided walk in the Fleet Street precinct w. David Rosenberg
Wednesday 31st July, 7- 9pm

(Meet outside St Clement Danes church, opposite the Royal Courts of Justice)

David Rosenberg, author of Rebel Footprints, will be giving a tour of the radical history around Fleet Street, starting at St Clement Danes church, and over the course of two hours wending its way towards MayDay Rooms (and probably a pub.)


Named after the River Fleet which now runs underground, Fleet Street itself, and the maze of alleys leading from it, have been a centre of printing and publishing from the early 1500s. During several period in the centuries since then, it has been been home to radical pamphleteers and publishers writing incendiary words, exposing injustices and inciting revolt. A number of radical organisations have had their offices and headquarters here. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries it was also home to leading bastions of reaction – the right wing press engaging in ideological warfare on behalf of the ruling class class. In the early modern period rich and poor lived cheek by jowl in and around this street and it had more than its fair share of mass confrontations and riots. The tour takes in some fascinating and unusual sites in this conflicted street and shows how the traces of its rebellious past are still present.


June at MayDay Rooms


Take over the city! A day of practical workshops on resistance to gentrification, redevelopment, and community struggles about land! w. Anarchist Festival
Saturday 1st June, 11am- 4pm

Last year Mayday Rooms created an archive of housing struggles around London during the last ten years, which includes material produced by a large number of housing campaigns, rent strikes, and a collection on the history of organised squatting. Taking this as our point of departure, we are organising a day of workshops on housing coops, squatting, and community organising as part of the Anarchist Festival 2019. We hope that this day of workshops will create a space where we’ll share practical skills and discuss resistance and alternatives, meet with others involved in similar activism, as well as explore the materials in the archival collections to get inspired.

There will be a crèche going on. Please email fani@maydayrooms.org if you’re coming with kids with details about their age to make sure we have enough people available.

Day Schedule:

  • 11-1pm Squatting in London: Publication re-launch and practical workshop

Join us for the re-launch of the publication ‘Squatting Is Part of The Housing Movement: Practical Squatting Histories from 1968 to Now’. This publication is the outcome of a residency in MayDay Rooms, and is part of our Housing Struggles Archive that we compiled last year. After an extensive research and a gathering of materials from different archives, including 56a Infoshop, there is now a three box collection of materials on squatting history in the UK. This publication will put the material in context. The launch will involve a short discussion on the issues the publication is covering and you’ll get the chance to grab a pamphlet.

The re-launch will be followed by a workshop on the practicalities of squatting, ie opening a squat, and dealing with the police and evictions.

Organised by: 56a Infoshop

  • 12-2pm: Radical Routes on Housing Coops

What’s it like to set up and to live in a housing co-op? We’ll look at types of properties and living arrangements from co-housing, to trailer parks to communes and find out what folks round the country are up to. We’ll then have a detailed look at the nitty gritty of setting up a housing coop.

Organised by: Radical Routes

  • 1-3pm: The Myth of Community: The Challenges of Organising Locally

Save the community’, ‘Support from the community’, ‘The community thinks’, ‘Community Land Trust’ are just a few of the references to ‘community’ that we us when are involved in a range of struggles such as housing, saving a library or getting access to land. However, to what extent does this ‘community’ exist? In this meeting, drawing on many practical examples of organising, we will discuss problems such as the impact of capitalism and divisions within localities. We will then hope to discuss how we can create genuine communities based on working class struggle.

Organised by: London Anarchist Communist Group

Book your ticket here

  • 2:30-4pm: Organising practical solidarity, collective support and action on housing and homelessness.

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth celebrated our 6th birthday in April. Come along to our discussion on 6 years of organising in south London to hear and share experiences of organising together.
We support each other with housing problems including overcrowding, unsuitable temporary accommodation, high rents, dangerous conditions, gatekeeping and poor treatment at the housing office. We learn our rights together, support each other and fight for good quality council homes for everyone.

Organised by: HASL (Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth)


Exploring Radical Archives and Collections w. Antiuniversity
Saturday 15th June, 1:30- 4:30pm

This is an introduction to the Statewatch Archives and Mayday Rooms, both located in Fleet Street. We have an extensive collection of materials related to state surveillance, activism, privacy, organising and more. Come and learn about accessing and using radical archives for work, study or creativity.

Register for the event here


M’aidez! Mayday! | MayDay Radio w. Antiuniversity
Monday 17th June, 6- 9:30pm

The cry ‘Mayday Mayday’ is the international distress call which comes from the french m’aidez (help me), but it also speaks to a history radical and revolutionary radio practices from seizing the airwaves to pirate radio broadcasts.

During this workshop will be building FM radio transmitter out of a Raspbery Pi, then using communiques, radio scripts and and other transcripts from the MayDay Rooms archive and beyond to create an audio piece to broadcast on the the FM dial.

Bring a raspberry pi if you want to take your radio home, if not we will provide them for you for the workshop. If you have a laptop with MacOs or Linux operating system please bring that too.

Organised by MayDay Radio and MayDay Rooms 

Register for the event here


20 years since J18 // Carnival Against Capital
Tuesday 18th June, 6:30pm

June 18 1999 saw an eruption of protests around the world. But amongst many demonstrations it was the tumult that took place in the City of London that offered a new model for revolts that tore through many cities. That day inaugurated a global anti-capitalist movement, which lasted into the mid-2000s. The actions combined riot with theatre, and brought together activists from a range of single-issue campaigns, from rave to anti-roads, from student movements to radical unions, from hunt sabs to anti-globalisation activists, alongside all sorts of people who had never been involved in protest before. In the subsequent years similar actions took place in many cities, most often around global government summits.

This year marks 20 years since the Carnival against Capital. So on June 18 this year we are planning an event that will bring together people who played a part in these histories and those who want to learn about it. The event will let us combine people’s memories with material traces from the protest movements of that time, to look back and to reflect on what happened then from the context of today’s struggles and social movements. We will be finding ways to contextualise what happened in 1999 by thinking about the social movements and protests that led up to it, and the subsequent wave of struggles that grew from it. And we will be unearthing and presenting our multimedia archive, and opening conversations in order to collectively think through, criticise, and celebrate a riotous day in the city.
https://www.facebook.com/events/2064289800539902/


MDR Social w. The New Factory of the Eccentric Actor
Friday 28th June, 7pm

What a perfect month to meet and drink on MDR’s roof terrace, discuss agitprop theatre and sing! Together with mingling, eating and drinking, this social is accompanied by a performance by theNew Factory of the Eccentric Actor.

The Blue Blouse (Синяя блуза) theatre troupe were an influential agitprop theatre collective in the Soviet Union, created by Boris Yuzhanin under the auspices of the Moscow Institute of Journalism. Describing itself as performing a mixture of news, sketches, music and dance, the company triggered a new theatre movement now long forgotten. The movement grew until by 1927 there were more than 5,000 companies presenting “topical theatre born of the revolution” in factories, schools, worker’s clubs, and from the backs of lorries throughout the Soviet Union. The New Factory of the Eccentric Actor present their tribute to this influential theatre movement by recreating a visit of a Blue Blouse company to a worker’s club, featuring original content, and text and songs from the 1920s.


May at MayDay Rooms

Gardening Afternoon
Monday 6th May, 1pm-5pm (weather permitting)

We haven’t had new plants on our roof terrace for a long time, and many of the plants and pots we have need some love and care. So join us for an afternoon of gardening to make the roof a nicer place for everyone who uses the building. We thought it would be really great if people brought along plants or cuttings from their own gardens (or which they have stolen from their enemies’ gardens). We’ll be sat upstairs with a pile of compost and some rooting hormone to try to get them to settle in. We will also get in some seeds, bulbs, and seedlings. Things that we would particularly like: climbing plants, hanging plants, plants that smell like freedom (honeysuckle, lemon blossom, garlic?), plants with uses and colours, plants wizened by history, green shoots of all things new, and things that don’t mind growing in exposed environments. And also if you can’t come on the day but have plants you want to offer just get in touch with Jacob@maydayrooms.org


Double Book Launch: David Grundy and Samuel Solomon present ‘A Black Arts Poetry Machine’ and ‘Lyric Pedagogy and Marxist Feminism’
Saturday 11th May, 7pm

Join David Grundy and Samuel Solomon for a discussion of their new books ‘A Black Arts Poetry Machine’ and ‘Lyric Pedagogy and Marxist Feminism’.  Each author will provide a brief overview of their works and will share discoveries from their research. The presentations will be followed by an open discussion.

A Black Arts Poetry Machine: A vital hub of poetry readings, performance, publications and radical politics in 1960s New York, the Umbra Workshop was a cornerstone of the African American avant-garde. Bringing together new archival research and detailed close readings of poetry, A Black Arts Poetry Machine is a groundbreaking study of this important but neglected group of poets. David Grundy explores the work of such poets as Amiri Baraka, Lorenzo Thomas and Calvin Hernton and how their innovative poetic forms engaged with radical political responses to state violence and urban insurrection. Through this examination, the book highlights the continuing relevance of the work of the Umbra Workshop today and is essential reading for anyone interested in 20th-century American poetry.”
Lyric Pedagogy and Marxist-Feminism: What is the political potential of poetry in the contemporary era? Exploring an often overlooked history of Marxist-Feminist poetics in post-war Britain – including such poets as Denise Riley, Veronica Forrest-Thomson, Wendy Mulford and Nat Raha – this book confronts this central question to debates about the value of humanities education today. Lyric Pedagogy and Marxist-Feminism demonstrates how ideas of social reproduction have been central both to the forms of post-1945 British poetry and the educational institutions where poetry is overwhelmingly encountered and produced. Combining new archival research with close readings of key poets of the period, the book charts the interrelated crises both of poetry itself and literary education more widely. Paradoxically, the very marginalisation of poetry in contemporary culture serves to offer the form new opportunities as an agent of social transformation.”


Scanathon and Cataloging Evening: Irish Struggles after 1968
Wednesday 15th May, 7-9pm

Now more than ever it is important to understand the past struggles of our Irish comrades. We invite to an evening of scanning, cataloguing and searching through our archival collection of political ephemera from post- 1968 struggles in Ireland. We will be focusing on material relating to revolutionary-socialist, national liberation, civil rights and women’s struggles, including an array of great material such as: Free Citizen: The Newspaper of People’s Democracy, Unfree Citizen, Banshee: Journal of Irishwomen United, Belfast Women’s Collective, Belfast Workers Research Bulletin, Troops Out Movement and much more… 


Full Surrogacy Now: A Conversation with Sophie Lewis
Tuesday 28th May, 7pm

Sophie Lewis will be leading a discussion on family abolitionism based on parts of her new book ‘Full Surrogacy Now’. The discussion will offer an opportunity to consider this exciting new feminist text, by thinking through some questions such as: Queer communists have contended that “All reproduction is assisted.” What technologies, surrogates and care-labors have assisted so far in manufacturing you? And, what would a world look like in which, as the Sisterhood of Black Single Mothers put it, “children will belong to all of us … children will belong only to themselves”? We will circulate more details closer to the time along with reading materials.

If you are interested in attending, please contact Jacob@maydayrooms.org and we will send texts to read in advance!


April at MayDay Rooms

Unpacking the Boxes: Eco-Anarchist Ephemera
Wednesday 3rd April, 7-9pm

A few months ago the MayDay Rooms Archive received a new deposit of 9 boxes of materials from various eco-anarchist struggles in 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 occasional publications and pieces of 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.


MDR Social
Friday 26th April, 7 -late
Join us for another social to eat and drink collectively. This month the social will be organised by one of our Building Collective residentsKeep an eye on our online calendar for more info.


MayDay Radio Launch
Saturday 27th April, 2-5pm

MayDay Radio is a new group that joined our Building Collective recently. It is an experiment in oral histories and sound production; it is a place to share equipment and skills; it is a platform to create new oral histories and activate existing archives, those at the MayDay Rooms but also beyond. Join us for its launch! You can find more info here.


March at MayDay Rooms

Scanathon! with Statewatch
Thursday 14th March,
Pop in any time between 6.30- 9.30pm

Come join us for an evening of scanning, Raspberry Pi libraries and lots of pamphlets from Statewatch’s magnificent archive of subversive material. From the collection will be particularly focusing on publications from the Time Out Workers Strike in 1980. Come and find out about the radical history of Time Out before it became rubbish!

Please bring a laptop if you have one, but still come if you don’t!
You can browse Statewatch’s collection here


Crispin Aubrey Archive on the ABC case is being launched by Crispin Aubrey Legacy Fund and Statewatch
Thursday 28th March, 6-8pm

On Friday 18 February 1977 John Berry ex-a soldier who had worked for SIGINT in Cyprus met two journalists from Time Out magazine at his home – Crispin Aubrey and Duncan Campbell. When Crispin and Duncan left the flat all three were arrested by the Special Branch under the Official Secrets Act. The Special Branch had placed under surveillance the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCCL, now Liberty) – after they got a letter from John Berry – and Time Out magazine newsroom.


This seminal case eventually led to the reform Section 2 of the Act. Their trial lasted for nearly two years. The defendants and supporters were regularly followed by the Special Branch, those demonstrating were photographed and the car of the Treasurer of the Agee-Hosenball Defence Campaign was broken into twice.
You can access online the ABC case Collection here

The Speakers are:
Welcome and Chair – Ann Singleton, Co-Chair Statewatch
Kate Aubrey (CALF)
Duncan Campbell – ABC
John Berry – ABC
Tony Bunyan (Statewatch, ABC Defence Campaign)
Rajiv Menon QC (Barrister, Garden Court Chambers)
Zak Suffee (Library volunteer)
Richard Norton-Taylor (Writer on Defence and Security – Guardian)

It is hoped the event will stimulate researchers and activists to visit the Archive in order that the lessons of the ABC case and can inform present struggles for openness and against official secrecy.

If you would like to come please send an email with Crispin’s ABC Archive Launch in the subject line to: office@statewatch.org


Inventory: The Counsel of Spent
Friday 29th March, 7pm

To celebrate the publication of their recent book The Counsel of Spent by Bookworks, members of Inventory we will hold a night of discussion about their work. The evening will also be a chance to view archival materials from Inventory’s past creations held at MDR, including issues of the journal that ran between 1995 and 2005, and other collectively produced objects and ephemera. The event is organised in collaboration with Bookworks.


Upcoming Events

Unpacking the Boxes: Eco-Anarchist Ephemera
Wednesday 3rd April, 7-9pm

A few months ago the MayDay Rooms Archive received a new deposit of 9 boxes of materials from various eco-anarchist struggles in 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 occasional publications and pieces of 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.

On Saturday 30th March we will spend the afternoon collectively unpacking the boxes, reading and discussing the material together. It will be an opportunity for people who know little of this history to get to know it, and for people who were involved to help explain some of what happened. We will be sorting the material ready for cataloguing, collectively charting some of the struggles it discusses, reading together, annotating, arguing and reminiscing, and generally to get digging through the archive to see what we find. Everyone welcome!


All events are free and open to all and usually there is no need to book, unless mentioned otherwise.