Red Wedge at Historical Materialism

Call it an "unofficial Red Wedge session" at Historical Materialism London. Editors Nikeeta Slade, Stella Becerril and Alex Billet, along with "Pink Palimpsest" blogger and writer Bill Crane, will be presenting the panel "'Who Stole the Soul?' Understanding Cultural Exchange Under Neoliberalism."

The panel is intended as an attempt to flesh out a thorough Marxist understanding of how culture travels in the neoliberal/"post-postmodern" age. Terms like "cultural appropriation" are common among the left today, but there are countless ways that the exchange of artistic modes can be interpreted. How does culture operate and change under capitalism? Are all instances of white people performing non-white art by their very nature racist? Is there room for a genuine cosmopolitan solidarity? These are some of the questions we are hoping to answer. The panel abstract is below.

Historical Materialism London will also feature presentations from other writers who have contributed to Red Wedge, including contributing editor Ashley Bohrer, Neil Davidson, Maya Weeks and Jordy Cummings. The program for the conference can be viewed here

* * *

Contemporary capitalism has produced stark and contradictory forms of development that by extension produce equally contradictory ways of understanding culture and the phenomenon of cultural exchange. The exchange of commodities, ideas and forms of artistic expression has always been a feature of capitalist development. Neoliberalism, however, has accelerated and accentuated these phenomena; therefore the left must reconsider the way we engage with questions of culture and cultural exchange.

The term “cultural appropriation” is one such attempt at engaging with cultural exchange, and one which has moved into common parlance among the radical left over the past decade. However, much of the theory that has emerged to explain cultural exchange, although rooted in an anti-racist instinct, is a product of post-colonial theory.

Some of the questions this panel will take up will be:

  • If the existing theory around cultural appropriation is part of a larger post-colonial framework, one whose aim is not collective emancipation, then what is its motivation?

  • Without a basic understanding of how and why things are commodified under capitalism, theory around cultural appropriation ends up reproducing capitalist ideas of ownership. How does that influence and shape cultural production and exchange?

  • In what way has migration under neoliberalism impacted the cosmopolitan experience? How does it account for different experiences of the same cosmopolitanism?

  • How has a multi-racial/multi-cultural experience impacted attempts at radical, revolutionary and anti-racist cultural production? Is there such a thing as cultural exchange that fosters solidarity across racial lines while also acknowledging the unique historical experience of component cultures?

These and other question are ones we will engage in an attempt to work towards a dialectical materialist understanding of cultural production and cultural exchange, one that can encourage political solidarity and reflect an aesthetic practice of collective liberation.

Panelists and papers included in this panel are:

  1. Crystal Stella Becerril, “Beyond Postcolonial: A Marxist Understanding of Skewed Power Relations in Cultural Production and Exchange”
  2. Nikeeta Slade, “Beyond Appropriation: Towards a Radical Cosmopolitanism”
  3. Bill Crane, “Reflections on Migration, Cosmopolitanism and the Formation of Culture”
  4. Alexander Billet, “Race, Class and Musical Expression in Uneven (Under)Development”
"Feuilleton" is the Red Wedge editors' blog, focused on announcements and events relevant to the radical arts community.

A Call For Submissions: Red Wedge Issue Two

The response to Issue One has been very positive. Despite some repeated shipping delays that we're still working on (apologies to those who are still waiting on theirs; you'll be getting them soon) we at Red Wedge can overall claim "Art + Revolution" a rather clear success. This reveals, as we have said many times over and will likely keep insisting, that there is a strong thirst for radical ideas around art, music, literature and performance. We are proud to make a small but essential contribution toward filling that gap.

And so, what better way to push forward in this endeavor than to... well, push forward. This September, we are scheduled to send the second issue of Red Wedge off to the printers, and are now open for submissions. The theme of the issue will be the art of interracial solidarity (we will likely come up with a snappier title between now and publication). With everything that has transpired over the past year, with rebellions and solidarity reaching from Missouri to the West Bank to Ayotzinapa, this seems a relevant theme for us to go with, and we believe that we will find a wealth of interest from readers and potential contributors alike.

As with Issue One, we are looking for the spectrum of submissions: essays and commentary, reviews, poetry, creative prose and imagery. As with all our content, we strongly encourage submissions from women, queer folks and people of color (which seems particularly prescient given this the subject of this issue). Queries, pitches and submissions should be sent to 

Off To the Printers

We sent something very long-awaited indeed off to the printers today. We'll give you some visual hints as to what it is... 

Should be here in a couple weeks; order and subscriptions will be sent out soon afterward. Be sure to order yours if you haven't already!

"Feuilleton" is the Red Wedge editors' blog, focused on announcements and events relevant to the radical arts community.

Hope Is Precious... must be rationed. This is what the folks behind the soon-to-be realized UK-based publication Salvage are insisting. It's a slogan that captures the desperation of our current moment pretty well while also refusing to concede that which we can't. One is reminded of Ernst Fischer's aphorism on relevant art: "In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it." Optimism of the will, pessimism of the intellect, so on and so forth.

This is why Salvage has to be supported in its zygotic stage (in other words, we want you to donate to the project!) so that it might become what it wants and needs to be. Far too much of the left press is dominated by convenient answers and aesthetic as afterthought. It seems the team who have conceptualized this publication have no intention of falling into those traps. Which isn't particularly surprising given who comprises that team: Richard Seymour, China Mieville, Magpie Corvid, Evan Calder Williams, Benjamin Kunkel and a good many other original thinkers are involved in one way or another with the project. Trish Kahle, whose work has appeared in Red Wedge, has also got an article about her experiences in Ferguson appearing in the first issue. How could we not want something like this to succeed?

If the promo video is to be taken as any indication then the basic aesthetic viewpoint of the magazine is going to be a very interesting one indeed. It's quite reminiscent of the film Deep State that Mieville did a couple years back with the Mirza & Butler filmmaking team (not surprising, considering that Karen Mirza and Season Butler are also involved in Salvage). Again, this kind of feel -- that of attempting to reconstruct something coherent and dynamic from the worn fragments of postmodernism -- is quite prescient for our time and place. It will be interesting to see where this publication goes, but of course we will only get a chance to see if they get the funding they need. You should support them in any way you can dear readers.

"Feuilleton" is the Red Wedge editors' blog, focused on announcements and events relevant to the radical arts community.

The New Red Wedge

It’s taken several months and a lot of hard work, but the new and improved Red Wedge is up and running. There is still much to do (we’ve had a couple people ask whether we are planning to move the archives from the old site: the quick answer is yes and we’re working on it as we speak), but we’re quite proud of what we’ve gotten up already. A few new changes we want to bring our readers’ attention to:

--First up, the Red Wedge shop! This, of course, is where you’ll be able to buy our first full print issue (on the way to the printers in a matter of days now), or subscribe. There will be more products coming of course  not just future print issues of Red Wedge, but pamphlets, posters, and all kinds of neat consumer goods to fill the empty void in your soul left by alienation and exploitation. (That was a joke… sort of…)

--We also have upgraded our events page, which we intend to not just use for various events connected to RW (fundraisers and the like) but general events that the radical arts communities should know about. This means that we want to hear from you about upcoming events in your area. Book launches for activist poets or novelists? Yes. DIY shows aiming to raise funds for anti-police brutality or domestic violence groups? Those too. Gallery showings designed to bring attention to the struggle of Palestinians? Absolutely. Plays or film showings about migrant rights, community control or the history of anti-fascism? Yes, yes, and yes again.

Our aim behind this new events page is to contribute to the building of networks of radical artists around North America and, eventually, the world. We are under no illusions about how massive an undertaking this will be. Nor do we think we are the only ones with such an idea. That, in some ways, is the point: in every city, in countless communities and campuses, there are pockets of creative workers looking for ways to use their art in order to advance radical or progressive causes. That these pockets exist is not up for debate; what is needed is for them to break out of their isolation and to start talking to each other. We believe that Red Wedge has the potential to be a key resource in making this happen. So if you have an event you want us to bring to the attention of our readership, a press release you’d like us to signal boost, then let us know! We'll announce it here at "Feuilleton" and add it to the events page.

--Note the new blogs section, hosted not on Tumblr as they were previously, but right here at We have an expanded roster of bloggers (and may be adding more in the near future) who will be posting here at RW. It’s our hope that the blogs will be a way to keep the conversation going and keep our readership posted in between online issues.

Previous blogs are still here: of course our editors’ blog “Feuilleton” persists and will shift more to focusing on announcements and news pertaining directly to Red Wedge. Blogs previously maintained by editors  Nikeeta Slade’s “AfroBlazingGuns,” Brit Schulte’s “The Hour Glass,” Alexander Billet’s “Atonal Notes” and Adam Turl’s “Evicted Art Blog” are still right here. Bill Crane’s “As I Please” still has a home at RW, but under a new name: “Pink Palimpsest.”

Newly added editor Craig Ross will be curating our “Red Wedge Comix” blog (which is now accepting submissions), and Hope Asya  also a new addition to our editorial board  will be maintaining the “Red Planet” blog along with RW writer Thomas Crane. Two more writers whose work has appeared in Red Wedge  Jase Short and Paul Mullan  will also be running new blogs for us. Paul’s blog “Conditions” will focus on the various mediations of visual art, while Jase’s “The Ansible” will be geared toward politics and philosophy through the prism of contemporary science-fiction.

Some of these bloggers are already posting; others are still planning their first post. But either way, we anticipate that the RW blogs will be a welcome supplement to our conversations around radical culture.

"Feuilleton" is the Red Wedge editors' blog, focused on announcements and events relevant to the radical arts community.