Verso Books and Novara Media co-present a screening of The Great Grunwick Strike 1976-1978: A History to launch Joshua Clovers’ Riot. Strike. Riot, followed by a panel discussion and ✨the second Verso/Novara social✨!
£5/£3: All proceeds from this event will go to the United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC), a coalition of those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody that supports others in similar situations. Book: https://
“What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. In a zoo, there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are those lions, Mr Manager.”
These were the words spoken by Jayaben Desai to her boss as she walked out of the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratories in north London. What followed was a remarkable two-year strike led by predominantly East African and South Asian women workers over appalling working conditions and the issue of trade union recognition. The Great Grunwick Strike 1976-1978, directed by Chris Thomas, portrays the landmark industrial dispute that erupted in the summer of 1976. The “strikers in saris”, as they were called by the press, were joined on picket lines in solidarity by workers from across the labour movement and there were frequent confrontations between them and the police. The dispute continues to be remembered as one of the most significant in the history of the British labour movement, despite the strikers not winning their demands outright; their struggle drew attention to the plight of women migrant workers and sent the message that Black and Asian women would resist their exploitation as a class.
The screening will be followed by a discussion looking at the history of protests, strikes and riots, and their coordinates of race and gender through the film’s portrayal of the strike led by Black and Asian women. The panel, chaired by James Butler (Novara Media), features the speakers Joshua Clover, author of Riot. Strike. Riot, Ash Sarkar (Novara Media), Wail Qasim (Defend the Right to Protest) Sujata Aurora (Grunwick 40), Amrit Wilson, author of Finding a Voice: Asian Women in Britain and Dreams Questions Struggles: South Asian Women in Britain (South Asia Solidarity Group, OWAAD), and Kadija George, literary activist and the cousin of Sheku Bayoh, who died on Sunday 3 May 2015, shortly after losing consciousness while being restrained by police on the street.
Joshua Clover’s Riot. Strike. Riot argues that ours has become an “age of riots” as the struggle of people versus state and capital has taken to the streets and offers a new understanding of this present moment and its history. Rioting was the central form of protest in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and was supplanted by the strike in the early nineteenth century. It returned to prominence in the 1970s, profoundly changed along with the coordinates of race and class. From early wage demands to recent social justice campaigns pursued through occupations and blockades, Clover connects these protests to the upheavals of a sclerotic economy in a state of moral collapse. As social unrest against an unsustainable order continues to grow, how can the history of protests from riots and strikes help to guide future antagonists in their struggles toward a revolutionary horizon?