Think North

Austerity, women & health inequalities

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Anti-austerity protest: Central London 20th June

Fortunately for me, the anti-austerity protest organised by The People’s Assembly was taking place the very weekend I’d be returning from my austerity conference in Kent. This meant I could combine the conference with a spot of protesting (academia should never distance itself from activism, in my opinion).
The feeling, coming out of bank station and seeing the already mass of people that had gathered there, was immense. The Facebook group said 70,000 people would attend, and 250,000 turned up; families with their kids in buggies, disability activists, some in wheelchairs, community groups against the cuts, a surprising number of communist groups, Unions, and even a sizeable group of Black Bloc enthusiasts (although their numbers were nothing like this event I accidentally got stuck in the middle of in Copenhagen last year).
Rather than marching with one specific group, I found it more fun to meander along to Westminster alone, taking in all the different posters and getting a feel for the different kinds of groups, chants and posters that were making the journey from the central of finance in the city to the centre of governance. It was a truly inspiring event, and while I’m under no illusion that this one protest, and the simultaneous ones taking place in other parts of the country on that day, will make a dent in the pro-austerity logic of the government and general populace. But we must begin somewhere, and peaceful protest, hopefully continuing to grow in size, is as good a place as any to begin.

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My first conference: Austerity and Household Finance at Kent

Two weeks ago I attended a conference hosted by the law school at Kent University to celebrate 50 years of radical feminism at Kent. It was the farthest I’ve ever travelled for a conference (sometimes I forget how massive the UK is!), and my first time presenting at a non-internal conference.

The experience was really encouraging; the plenary speakers were fantastic, the whole atmosphere was very welcoming and positive, and it was fantastic to be in a productive environment with so many anti-austerity researchers, discussing all the areas in civil society where the cuts are having a huge impact; the benefit system, cuts to legal aid, the housing market and the labour market, as well as wider feminist issues such as reproductive and informal care practices and the impact austerity is having on our understanding of these issues.

My presentation went very well, I kept it simple and did a basic summation of my PhD to date and how the concept of austerity and household finance is relevant to it. I got some great, insightful questions, and left with a lot to think about for the coming months. I didn’t ask anyone to take pictures of my presentation, unfortunately, but here’s a wee picture of a row of pastel-painted houses beside my hotel. 20150617_195726