Fat Activism on Obesity Timebomb

Black and white cover of Charlotte Cooper's Fat Activism Over at Obesity Time Bomb Charlotte Cooper, author of the forthcoming HammerOn title Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement, is blogging about the book in the run up to publication in January 2016.

Her first post discusses creating an index for her book.

She writes…

‘Doing the ground work for building an index is both boring and exciting. Trawling the text takes time and focus, it’s hard work, but the pleasure is in thinking about what this index might look like.

Here are some potential entries: Archives, Emotions, Grassroots, Killjoy, London Fat Women’s Group, Mama Cass, Power, A Queer and Trans Fat Activist Timeline, Radical Lesbian Feminism, Research Justice, Spud Guns, Standpoint, Venus of Willendorf, White Supremacy.

How might my understanding of fat have been different if I’d come across an index like this when I was researching fat activism? I feel some grief that nothing like this was out there, and now some hope that it’s going to exist.

Maybe other fat activism indices will exist in the future too.’

Read the full post here.

Para-Academic Handbook – 1st Anniversary!

The Para-Academic Handbook is one year old!

To mark the occasion the editors have written these reflections…

If you have any para-academic stories, inspirations or grumbles get in touch and we will share them on the HammerOn blog!


When we decided to produce a collection of ‘para-academic’ voices it was because we felt that certain experiences were being marginalised, feelings were not being discussed and some things needed to be said. Knowing that our experiences are a small shred of what it means ‘to be’ a para-academic, we invited others to contribute.

We received texts, illustrations and photographs from people in Australia, South Africa, US, Ireland, UK and Germany. Contributions came from people who were employed at universities and from that myriad population who hover in that space in, between, alongside, against or outside the academy.

It is fair to say that the book is rooted in complex feelings associated with trying to find a way to express individual and collective dissatisfaction, anger, and discontent.

We know that some readers of the book have found it a little too bleak and in that bleakness not all that helpful. Negative criticisms of the university can perpetuate a certain tendency of academics to bemoan their lot rather than make reflexive and revolutionary changes of consciousness, sentiment, and practice. To be cynical is to stay rooted in a hegemonic posture; it doesn’t shift positions.

Our introduction was written from a place of political desperation and profound anger but we wanted that anger to be mobilised. The rest of the collection is populated by diverse voices, working experiences, writing styles and creative practices. The variety of voices and stories is itself an act of resistance against academic practice that is all too often homogenised, and stultifying.

The impulse to produce The Para-Academic Handbook was as a mode of resistance against the cannibalisation of the academy by neoliberal capitalism. It aims to create a platform for voices that share similar political affiliations.

It was also an opportunity for precariously employed, hourly paid lecturers to discuss how they felt, and how flexible labour conditions in the academy—which are of course not exclusive to it—affected them. Often this revealed frustration, but it also indicated points of negotiation and scholarly independence.

When we were editing the collection we didn’t consider para-academia in relation to debates about #altac (alternative academic careers). Indeed, nobody contributed an essay drawing on these debates.

This oversight of #altac debates perhaps reflects our concerns as scholars interested in the fate of knowledge and education within the university, and society at large.

We did not intend to highlight supportive networks and practices for those seeking to exit academic life; we wanted to foreground possibilities for the emergence of Other scholarly lives.

An #altac collection would, no doubt, offer many welcome resources for the large amount of people in this situation and we hope someone is collating it right now.

Crisis and worry, as Ruth Barcan has noted, might actually be the very architecture of the university – shaping it with a cynicism which can guarantee its authoritative position.

Hannah Arendt, across whose work hope and its discontents operates, was also painfully aware of the centrality of crisis for education. Writing in 1954 she wrote that, “Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it, and by the same token save it from that ruin which except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and the young, would be inevitable.”

For Arendt to write about education as that which can save the world from inevitable ruin in the spatial, political, physical and psychic devastation of the Second World War is a profoundly brave hope which, we fear, has been left unrealised.

Placing education as the fulcrum between a love and a responsibility for the wider world is learning to enact a little of utopia in the here and now.

The Para-Academic Handbook is not perfect. Its imperfections make it. In not being perfect, in being both bleak and hopeful, in being rough around the edges, it allows for possibilities, languages, feelings, practices, bodies, and imperfections all too often refused by the academy to take up some space.

The stories – the very different stories – collected in the volume are a performance of the education Arendt hoped for; one that aspires to responsibility and love.

Fat Activism is at the typesetters

Be prepared everyone – Charlotte Cooper’s Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement will hit the shelves in January 2016.

It is now being typeset by Eva Megias who also designed the cover.

Updates on publicity events and how to pre-order your copy will be posted here soon.

In the meantime we will post short excerpts from the book to whet your whistle.

The first thing you may be wondering: What is Fat Activism about?

Fat Activism-Charlotte Cooper-cover-Eva Megias

Charlotte tells us:

‘Fat people are a fact of life, part of the fabric of humanity. There is evidence that we have existed for many thousands of years. We are here. There are many who would prefer fat people not to exist, but we are here regardless of whether or not we are allowed or supposed to be here. Fat people are as valuable as anyone else and our existence reveals important things about how societies operate.

As a psychotherapist, I am interested in the ways in which people might grow towards hopes and dreams, express agency, by which I mean the capacity to choose and act independently, even within restrictive social contexts; to really live. I see activism as a strategy for developing what Judith Butler calls “liveable lives” in contexts that are extremely trying, as well as creating social change. How can and do fat people try to make liveable lives for ourselves and others? That’s basically what this book is about.’

Mittens On

Have you ever heard of Mittens On?

Ablaze-2-508x734It is a DIY publishing house run by Karren Ablaze! who you may know as the brain and hustle behind the fanzine Ablaze! 

Ablaze! documented the UK’s independent music scenes in the late eighties and early nineties, including the arrival and influence of riot grrrl in the UK.

Karren started Mittens On in 2012 to produce the anthology The City is Ablaze!

The City is Ablaze! presents ‘a musical history of the late eighties and early nineties, a history that could only be obtained by surfing the sliproads, sneaking backstage at a thousand shows, sleeping on strangers’ floors and living to type up the tales of the sounds that defined an era.’

All the back copies of Ablaze! as well as the fastzine No! are also available through the Mittens On site.

In 2014 Mittens On published Mark Burgess’s memoir View From A Hill, and have many more exciting plans in the pipeline.

View-From-A-Hill2To learn more about the challenges of being a DIY publisher you can read Karren’s recent post.

You can also fill in the survey to help develop the Mittens On vision!

Black & BLUE – call for submissions

We were recently contacted by Manchester-based publisher-curators Black & BLUE.

They asked us to help spread the word about a new anthology they are seeking submissions for.

Following and developing the form of previous anthologies which had themes of City and Revolution, their next issue will focus on Memory.

You can contribute ‘poems, fiction, textual-art, fragments, lyrics, dialogues, drama, social-media-collages, notes, prose-poems, letters, fables, lists, transcripts, accidental work, political slogans, single lines, found-pieces, other media’ and submissions should be no longer than 1000 words.

The full brief is here, and the last date you can submit an article is Nov 11 2015.

An enticing invitation!

Get scribbling, marking, making.