Mark Rainey and I co-authored a paper for Cultural Studies (Routledge) called The Urbis Building as Looking Glass, which used the iconic, former museum of the city, as a crystal ball through which we might view an entire political culture, and some of its changes over the last ten years. Mark and I have a longer project bubbling away, on Manchester, which we are projecting into a book. The last piece we put out was on ‘The Spectre of Engels’, which has its roots in two papers we gave at the Urbis Research Review Forum in 2010:
Something definitely started happening when we delivered those papers. All kinds of elements which were in the mix that evening, which are only just coming together now, relationships, ideas, and the ramifications of the occupied Manchester University building, next to the lecture theatre we spoke in. Mark is currently finishing PhD research at Goldsmiths on migrant homeless shelters in Manchester.
I co-founded, with David Wilkinson, Manchester Left Writers, in January 2014. David, it turns out, was one of the occupiers next door in 2010 as Mark and I talked about Engels in the city. I had met him before though, at the TRIP festival at MMU in 2008.
The Manchester Left Writers project is still very much live, we have over forty members, and a core of active writers. We have put out a series of polemical pieces called Broadsides, three in total, and a series of Precarious Passages, more subjective, poetic, call and response collaborations between two writers. Manchester Left Writers have been invited to read their Precarious Passages series at the Manchester Literature Festival in October, 2015:
We have also just been given the green light to put together a collective issue of Open Democracy, as Manchester Left Writers, on ‘The Northern Powerhouse’. This post on Hulme has also just gone live, via MMU’s slide library blog:
There’s a strong connotation of post-war Europe to the image of Hulme I wrote about, but also post-bomb Hiroshima. None of this is just incidental detail. This worn photograph of an ‘atomised’ and atomising landscape, in a city that contributed a great deal to the development of the atom bomb, is for me also a cipher for atomised individualism.
The Manchester stripe of my work is going to be a wide one.