Monthly Archives: July 2018

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Just Managing? and the articulation of Austerity

The Independent has recently reported that in autumn this year, the UN Human Rights Investigator Professor Philip Alston will be researching the impact of Tory austerity measures in Britain.[1] The need for such an investigation will come as no surprise to readers of Mark O’Brien and Paul Kyprianou’s hard-hitting study of austerity Britain, Just Managing?.[2] This startling and eminently readable study foregrounds the plight of low-earning families who have been disproportionately affected by the policy agenda that has been pursued over the last three governments. The Coalition of 2010-2015, and the majority and minority Conservative governments that followed, have delivered the exact reverse of what they promised with regards to austerity, originally advertised as impacting the rich more heavily than the poorest in society.[3] In fact, income inequality, and its attendant problems of inflation and unequal distributions of education and healthcare, have increased on an unprecedented scale in recent years.[4] Continue reading

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Soso Tham and the Wisdom of Language

Tales of Darkness and Light: Soso Tham’s The Old Days of the Khasis is one of the least accessed titles in the Open Book online catalogue; there is not even a Wikipedia entry for Soso Tham (1873-1940), despite his being the most prolific Khasi-language poet ever to be set into writing. Such obscurity is not only the neglect of a sensitive North-Indian poet, who can hold his own in comparison with Keats, Wordsworth and Clare in the English canon; it is also emblematic of the suppression of eastern cultural practices by imperial western forces, as well as the forgetfulness of modern people of their ancient past. Soso Tham’s poetry seeks to reacquaint the Khasi people with their cultural and linguistic heritage, and assert pride in that inheritance against the voracious forces of colonial rule (under Britain until 1947) and modern suspicion of indigenous traditions. Janet Hujon’s (re)discovery of this distinctive and moving poet, is as much a personal communion between Khasi poets – Hujon is a Cambridge-based member of the Khasi community– as it is a communion across generations and estranged cultural discourses: Western and Eastern, urban and rural, modern and ancient. Continue reading