As a people, Swedes pride themselves on being one of the most equal, peaceful and caring people on the planet, a people who in stark contrast to other nations has never been engaged in any major forms of colonialism, and who has always opposed racism and sexism. The reality, however, is less flattering, and any serious attempt to study Swedish history will show that the general idea of Sweden as a utopian non-racist state without a colonial heritage is far from true.
Historically speaking, Sweden has been a key colonial force throughout Europe, occupying the majority of all countries bordering the Baltic Sea and to this day Sweden continues its colonial occupation of the ancestral homelands of the Saami which began with a decree issued by the King Magnus Eriksson in 1340 where it was stated that every Christian Swedish citizen was allowed to settle in Sápmi, back then referred to as Lappmarkenas long as they paid taxes to the king. Nowadays, the term Lapp is considered a racial slur, but many Swedes continue to use the term despite repeatedly being told not to by members of the Saami.
The actual full-scale colonisation of Sápmi, which includes the use of Saami reindeer herders as slaves in the silver mines in northern Sweden and the more or less complete destruction of the traditional religious practices of the Saami started in the 16th century, and exploded in the 17th century when the Swedish king Carolus XI declared that everyone who settled in Sápmi would be exempt from military service for life and taxes for 15 years, and thereafter pay less taxes than the Saami. Moreover it’s worth noting that Finland remained a Swedish colony until 1808, when Finland was turned into a Russian Grand Duchy.
The Swedish treatment of anyone who was considered non-Swedish was and in many ways still is appalling. Until the 1960’s, the Saami were denied the same basic rights as other Swedish citizens, and for a long time Saami reindeer herders were forced to pay taxes to both the Norwegian and Swedish state. The Saami who as an effect of this decided to give up reindeer herding as a profession were stripped of all their rights to refer to themselves as Saami, but were not granted Swedish citizenship rights. In the early 20th century, the Swedish state founded a race biological institute, whose main task was to study the Saami in order to prove that they were less human than ethnic Swedes.
In addition to this, the treatment of Jews and Romani people - both national minorities - has been characterised by discrimination and racism for years, and while the current favourite pet hate object of the casual Swedish racist has shifted somewhat from these groups to immigrants from Muslim countries, the fact that these groups face racism on a daily basis is an indisputable fact. Earlier this winter, a Romani woman was prohibited from renting a car, because of her ethnicity, and synagogues throughout Sweden has been vandalised frequently in the last ten years. The same goes for mosques, and full-blown, outspoken Islamophobia forms a major part of the current Swedish discourse.
What is perhaps even less commonly known is the fact that it was only in 1878 that the last Swedish colony, the Caribbean island Saint Barthélemy, shifted hands and became a French colony, now referred to as a French overseas department, and that slavery wasn’t outlawed in Swedish colonies until the 9th of October 1847, in turn not a decision taken based on a belief in human rights but rather a way to assure that the French and British would continue to trade with the Swedes in the Caribbean.
The Swedish Slave Trade was significantly smaller than that of the British and the Dutch, but it was nonetheless an important member of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Sweden has had short-term colonies in a large number of African states, primarily on the African West Coast. Sait Barthélemy was essentially a slave trade port and the Swedish king at the time stated that “free import of slaves and trade with black slaves […] is granted to all nations without having to pay any charge at the unload.”
But racism is far from a purely historical issue; as recently as today, the news reported that immigrant officers and police had been seen at stations on the Stockholm metro, questioning anyone who seemed to be a non-ethnic Swede, and forcing them to produce their ID’s and immigration papers.
Ever since the racist party the Sweden Democrats gained a couple of seats in the Swedish Parliament, casual racism has been on the rise. At the moment the Sweden Democrats is the third largest political party in Sweden, this despite a number of recent scandals in which members of the party threatened immigrants with iron bars and shouted racist and sexist abuse at members of the public.
So in my political soc class yesterday we watched With Babies and Banners: The Story of the Women’s Emergency Brigade. It’s a 45 minute documentary (you can find it on Youtube) in which women who were part of (and part of the organizing!!!) the Flint sit-down strike spoke about their experiences. It was really great. The interviews were done around the 40th anniversary of the strike, in 1979 You should watch it if you can.
But while I was watching it, this thought came to me: These Flint women part of the Emergency Brigade (also called the Red Beret Women) are soooo super awesome. They should be more well-known! And then I wondered, why is Rosie the Riveter an enduring feminist symbol? Not gonna lie, Rosie looks fierce and all, and I love the alternative Rosies that people have made of Muslim women and WOC and all. BUT weren’t the Rosie posters and films of the time supposed to encourage women to support the war effort? Women were supposed to be fulfilling their patriotic duty by working in industry. But also, the history on that is murky and the poster most often associated with Rosie was never called ‘Rosie the Riveter’ at the time.
The poster that’s most commonly associated with ‘Rosie the Riveter’ and used as an icon of women’s empowerment is the poster by J. Howard Miller (The “We Can Do It!” one). As Gwen Sharp and Lisa Wade write in “Secrets of a Feminist Icon”:
First, though we often think of the “Rosie the Riveter” poster as the product of a government enthusiastic about incorporating women into the war effort, it was actually an internal corporate design, not meant for the general public. Created by J. Howard Miller for the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, it was intended only for Westinghouse employees.
But what I think is REALLY important is this part:
In addition to pointing out these myths about the origins of the image, Kimble and Olson question its lauded female empowerment message.
Further, the message wasn’t designed to empower workers, female or otherwise; it was meant, as were the other posters in the series, to control Westinghouse’s workforce. One of the major functions of corporate war committees was to manage labor and discourage disputes that might disrupt production. Images of happy workers expressing support for the war effort and praising workers’ abilities served as propaganda meant to persuade workers to identify themselves, management, and Westinghouse itself as a unified team with similar interests and goals. The posters commonly encouraged employees to meet production goals and align themselves with corporate values, while discouraging them from discussing unionizing or organizing to improve working conditions or wages.
[bold emphasis added by me/indigocrayon]
Yeah, this poster that we now see as a symbol of female empowerment was one used to control workers in a factory and discourage union activity.
But there were these women, just about six years before the Westinghouse poster was commissioned. The Red Beret Women. The Women’s Emergency Brigade. These awesome, awesome women in Flint, Michigan. Some of them had worked in factories, so they understood first hand the pain that their husbands, sons, fathers went through working in a factory (plus some extra difficulties because they were women, such as sexual harassment from higher up men). They sympathized with the cause of unionizing and striking. When the men were sitting down in the factory for a sit down strike, they were there actively part of the strike. They busted windows. They took food to the strikers inside. They stopped police from getting in to the factories to break up the strikers. They mobilized more women, they got other women in the city to realize that women WERE a part of this movement already and THEY could be too.
These women are fierce. They were and are empowered (I think some of them must still be alive). They empowered several more women. They fought against the bosses. The Rosie the Riveter poster is a remnant of WWII control over workers, of all genders.
It’s only “through a lens shaped by what came later, particularly Second Wave feminism” that we see the Westinghouse poster as a symbol of women’s empowerment. But the Flint women were awesome then, were awesome during the 40th anniversary of the strike, and are still awesome now.
(The article I’m quoting in this post can be found here.)
tw for violence and descriptions
On 16.09.1982, the Israeli army controlled West Beirut, sealed off the 2 Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila and fired shells at them. Later, the Israeli military command gave the Israeli-allied Lebanese Phalangist militia the green light to enter the refugee camps. For the next 40 hours the Phalangist militia raped, killed, and injured a large number of unarmed civilians, mostly children, women and elderly people inside the “encircled and sealed” Sabra and Shatila camps. These actions, accompanied or followed by systematic roundups, backed or reinforced by the Israeli army, resulted in dozens of disappearances. During the massacre, the Israeli army prevented civilians from escaping the camps and arranged for the camps to be illuminated throughout the night by flares launched into the sky from helicopters and mortars. (1)
The number of victims varies between 700 (the official Israeli figure) and 3,500 (in the inquiry launched by the Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk). The exact figure can never be determined because, in addition to the approximately 1,000 people who were buried in communal graves by the ICRC or in the cemeteries of Beirut by members of their families, a large number of corpses were buried beneath bulldozed buildings by the militia members themselves. Also, hundreds of people were carried away alive in trucks towards unknown destinations, never to return. (1)
“What we found inside the Palestinian Chatila camp at ten o’clock on the morning of 18th September 1982 did not quite beggar description, although it would have been easier to re-tell in the cold prose of a medical examination … there were women lying in houses with their skirts torn up to their waists and their legs wide apart, children with their throats cut, rows of young men shot in the back after being lined up at an execution wall. There were babies – blackened babies because they had been slaughtered more than 24 hours earlier and their small bodies were already in a state of decomposition – tossed into the rubbish heaps alongside discarded US army ration tins, Israeli army medical equipment and empty bottles of whisky …” Robert Fisk (2)
“Down a laneway to our right, no more than 50 yards from the entrance, there lay a pile of corpses. There were more than a dozen of them, young men whose arms and legs had been wrapped around each other in the agony of death. All had been shot at point-blank range through the cheek, the bullet tearing away a line of flesh up to the ear and entering the brain. Some had vivid crimson or black scars down the left side of their throats. One had been castrated, his trousers torn open and a settlement of flies throbbing over his torn intestines. The eyes of these young men were all open. The youngest was only 12 or 13 years old … ” Robert Fisk (2)
“On the other side of the main road, up a track through the debris, we found the bodies of five women and several children. The women were middle-aged and their corpses lay draped over a pile of rubble. One lay on her back, her dress torn open and the head of a little girl emerging from behind her. The girl had short, dark curly hair, her eyes were staring at us and there was a frown on her face. She was dead … One of the women also held a tiny baby to her body. The bullet that had passed through her breast had killed the baby too. Someone had slit open the woman’s stomach, cutting sideways and then upwards, perhaps trying to kill her unborn child. Her eyes were wide open, her dark face frozen in horror.” Robert Fisk (2)
Much of Hawaii’s history has been lost or whitewashed for tourists, including the story of Eddie Aikau, a Hawaiian lifeguard and surf legend who was proud of his native cultural identity, and taught others about Hawaii’s true history of Western exploitation:
The beach had been a refuge for Eddie, but, like many Hawaiians during the 1960s, he was becoming aware of the impact that annexation and statehood had had on native traditions. It’s impossible to know for sure how many Native Hawaiians lived on the islands at the time of first contact with British explorers, in 1778, but historians estimate that before Cook arrived there were around five hundred thousand. By 1890, disease, wars between islands, and poverty had reduced the number to a mere forty thousand. The history Kelly taught the younger surfers contradicted the story of a conflict-free annexation and statehood they’d learned in school. The reality was grim. The U.S. military was testing weapons on the island of Kaho‘olawe; sugarcane and pineapple plantations had replaced diverse, sustainable agriculture that preserved the scarce freshwater supply; Hawaiians were subject to the rule of a government based nearly five thousand miles away. As Kelly drove Eddie and his friends past Hawaiian valleys and mountains toward its beaches, they began to comprehend how Hawaii had been transformed into America.
Juxtaposing Vietnam’s incredible past and present.
Vietnamese photographer Khánh Hmoong combines visuals from two eras within one frame. By holding a superimposed photograph from the past over his chosen landscape, Hmoong merges two periods of time, juxtaposing their similarities and differences. Each photograph is meticulously aligned within its original destination, exposing the changes that have occurred in the area. The effects of time are visible through the environment’s shift in architecture, the people’s fashion choices, and the transformation in transportation - whether it be a modernization from horses to vehicles or simply from dated automotive models to modern design.
Regardless of location, comparing the past and present through images is always a fascinating look at history and change. Hmoong’s series reveals so much about the history of Vietnam without words and actually makes the viewer want to learn more.
Via My Modern Met.
this was tagged “indian reservation.” INDIAN RESERVATION. i’m taking this as a sign that some basic education is in order:
reservations were created to corral Natives onto ever-shrinking allocations of land, which may or may not have been based on respective ancestral lands. they are a symbol of the ongoing colonization of Native peoples. the process by which Natives were removed from their lands and pushed onto reservations was extremely violent—millions and millions of people died, and Native peoples live with the intergenerational trauma and legacies of the reservation system to this day.
this photo was not taken on a reservation. this photo was taken on Alcatraz Island, a small island in the Bay (between San Francisco and Oakland). the island was originally used by the US government as a detention center for Native prisoners of war (taken from places as far off as Arizona), and later was used as a detention center for men who had committed crimes during their service for the US military. Following this, the island was used as host to the infamous Alcatraz penitentiary, until it was shut down in 1963.
according to federal law (Treaty of Fort Laramie), government-owned lands that are not being used or are otherwise abandoned become the legal property of Natives from which it was originally “acquired.” citing this law, Indians of All Nations seized the island in 1969—this photo is from the subsequent Indian occupation of the island. an iconic moment in US, Native American, & Civil Rights histories, the occupation would last 19 months. Natives from all areas of the Americas gathered to live on the island, and built communities and homes there. following the occupation, the US government returned lands to the Taos, Yakama, Navajo, and Washoe tribes (returned thanks to demands made at Alcatraz, re: Treaty of Fort Laramie). Nixon also rescinded the Indian termination policy during the occupation, and instated the current self-determination policy.
this photo is representative of one of the most treasured moments in contemporary Native anti-colonial struggle. it’s a true testament to the US colonial education system that the person who posted this was unaware of this event.
The traditional term for homosexuality in China is “the passion of the cut sleeve boys” (断袖之癖), so named from the story of Emperor Ai of Han (27 BCE - 1 BCE) and Dong Xian (23 BCE - 1 BCE). As the story goes, Emperor Ai fell in love with a minor official named Dong Xian. Dong Xian quickly gained the Emperor’s favor. One afternoon as they slept in bed, Emperor Ai woke up. Rather than wake his lover, he cut the sleeves of his robe to let his lover sleep longer. Homosexuality was regarded as a normal affair up until the late Qing dynasty when the government attempted to westernize the country.
Mahmud of Ghazni and Malik Ayaz.
Mahmud of Ghazni founded the Ghaznavid Empire and ruled as a sultan. He fell in love with Malik Ayaz, a Turkish slave, and their relationship became the epitome of idealized love in Islamic legend and Sufi literature. As the story goes, Ayaz asked Mahmud who the most powerful man in the kingdom was. When the sultan replied that it was himself, Ayaz corrected him, claiming that in fact Ayaz was the most powerful, since Mahmud was his slave. The “slave to a slave” became a favorite trope in Persian literature. R.G.L.
African American Doctor, Daniel Hale Williams, is credited with having performed the first open heart surgery on July 9, 1893 before such surgeries were established. While he is known as the first person to perform an open heart surgery, it is actually more noteworthy that he was the first surgeon to open the chest cavity successfully without the patient dying of infection. His procedures would therefore be used as standards for future internal surgeries.
For those folks whining about the Black casting in The Hollow Crown and other Shakespearean and historical British productions. Here ya go:
The black trumpeter John Blanke played regularly at the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII
Most of us tend to think that black people came to Britain after the war - Caribbeans on the Empire Windrush in 1948, Bangladeshis after the 1971 war and Ugandan Asians after Idi Amin’s expulsion in 1972.
But, back in Shakespeare’s day, you could have met people from west Africa and even Bengal in the same London streets.
Of course, there were fewer, and they drew antipathy as well as fascination from the Tudor inhabitants, who had never seen black people before. But we know they lived, worked and intermarried, so it is fair to say that Britain’s first black community starts here.
There had been black people in Britain in Roman times, and they are found as musicians in the early Tudor period in England and Scotland.
But the real change came in Elizabeth I’s reign, when, through the records, we can pick up ordinary, working, black people, especially in London.
Shakespeare himself, a man fascinated by “the other”, wrote several black parts - indeed, two of his greatest characters are black - and the fact that he put them into mainstream entertainment reflects the fact that they were a significant element in the population of London.
Zitkala-Sa: A Yankton Sioux woman of Native American and white mixed ancestry. She was well educated and went on to become an accomplished author-she wrote the first Native American opera, The Sun Opera, in 1913. She was also a musician and composer and later went on to work for the reform of Native American policies in the United States.
By Gertrude Käsebier
After 150 years of broken promises, the Oglala Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota are nurturing their tribal customs, language, and beliefs. A rare, intimate portrait shows their resilience in the face of hardship.
Almost every historical atrocity has a geographically symbolic core, a place whose name conjures up the trauma of a whole people: Auschwitz, Robben Island, Nanjing. For the Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that place is a site near Wounded Knee Creek, 16 miles northeast of the town of Pine Ridge. From a distance the hill is unremarkable, another picturesque tree-spotted mound in the creased prairie. But here at the mass grave of all those who were killed on a winter morning more than a century ago, it’s easy to believe that certain energies—acts of tremendous violence and of transcendent love—hang in the air forever and possess a forever half-life.
Alex White Plume, a 60-year-old Oglala Lakota activist, lives with his family and extended family on a 2,000-acre ranch near Wounded Knee Creek. White Plume’s land is lovely beyond any singing, rolling out from sage-covered knolls to creeks bruised with late summer lushness. From certain aspects, you can see the Badlands, all sun-bleached spires and scoured pinnacles. And looking another way, you can see the horizon-crowning darkness of the Black Hills of South Dakota.
One hot and humid day in early August, I drove out to interview White Plume in a screened outdoor kitchen he had just built for his wife. Hemp plants sprouted thickly all over their garden. “Go ahead and smoke as much as you like,” White Plume offered. “I always tell people that: Smoke as much as you want, but you won’t get very high.” The plants are remnants from a plantation of industrial hemp—low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Cannabis sativa—cultivated by the White Plume family in 2000.
During World War II cultivation of hemp was encouraged in the United States, its fiber used for rope, canvas, and uniforms. But in 1970 low-THC industrial hemp was outlawed under the Controlled Substances Act. In 1998 the Oglala Sioux Tribe passed an ordinance allowing the cultivation of low-THC hemp, a crop well suited to places, like the “rez,” with a short growing season, arid soil, and weather fluctuations.
“The people of Pine Ridge have sovereign status as an independent nation,” White Plume said. “I take that to mean I am free to make a living from this land.” So in spite of reportedly stern warnings from Robert Ecoffey, the superintendent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on Pine Ridge, who pointed out that Oglala Sioux sovereignty is limited and does not include the right to violate federal laws, the White Plumes planted an acre and a half of industrial hemp using seeds collected from plants growing wild on the rez. A few days before the crop was due to be harvested, in late August 2000, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the BIA, and the U.S. Marshals Service swarmed the place in helicopters and SUV s and shut down the hemp operation. The crop went feral. “It was an experiment in capitalism and a test of our sovereignty, but it seems the U.S. government doesn’t want to admit that we should have either,” White Plume said. Then he laughed in the way of a man who knows that he cannot be defeated by ordinary disappointments.
After that we spoke of the treaties made and broken between the U.S. and the Sioux, and that led naturally to a conversation about the Black Hills, which the Oglala consider theiraxis mundi, the center of their spiritual world. The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty guaranteed the Sioux possession of the hills, but after gold was discovered there in 1874, prospectors swarmed in, and the U.S. government quickly seized the land. The Sioux refused to accept the legitimacy of the seizure and fought the takeover for more than a century. On June 30, 1980, in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an award of $17.5 million for the value of the land in 1877, along with 103 years’ worth of interest, together totaling $106 million. But the Sioux rejected the payment, insisting that the Black Hills would never be for sale.
The (First) Opium War (1839–42) Qing dynasty
China at this time, had many important trading products that European countries needed such as china, silk and tea but Europe in the other hand, only had silver that Chinese people were interested in. The British wanted to increase the cooperation and trading with China and come up with an idea; to illegally export opium to China. The Chinese government tried to stop the trading but the consumption of opium had already started and the consumption also grew rapidly among the citizens which became a very uneasy problem to solve, a total of 36353 coffins were exported from the United Kingdom to China.
Great Britain made demands for the trading but a war broke out when China didn’t accept the conditions. China lost the war and a preliminary treaty was created; to hand over Hong Kong to Great Britain, pay 6 million dollars to Britain and also opening the trading port of Guangzhou. However, none of the countries accepted the terms of condition and the war didn’t come to an end. In august 1842, U.K had occupied Nanjing and China was forced to make peace and accepting the demands.
1. Open up 4 more ports for every nation and foreign merchants are allowed to live and build in the 5 cities with open ports.
2. Britain was going to obtain Hong Kong.
3.China should pay for the British costs of the war, which was 21 million dollars.
(The photo was taken right after the war, the amount of drug-addicts was around 2 million in China)
This is a piece of history everyone needs to understand in order to understand the current shape of the world, and that’s a great historical photo, but I’m never satisfied with these little write-ups on tumblr. Probably because my standards are unrealistically high, coming from a family in which Chinese history was the regular topic of kitchen table conversation throughout my childhood.
Basically, Once Upon A Time In China (well, just a short time ago in the 19th century), the Qing dynasty was in its death throes: imperial corruption had been eating away at society for a century, so that widespread crushing poverty gripped the masses while the elite lounged and slumbered in extreme opulence.
So arrogant and corrupt were the Manchu rulers that they allowed China to be carved up by European colonialists right under their noses. Different colonial powers took bites out of China called “spheres of influence” with full extraterritoriality (i.e. no need for colonizers to obey the laws of China, only the laws of their countries of origin) and trading laws which amounted to the pillaging and plundering of China.
Despite all that, Europeans wanted more. In particular, Great Britain wanted more tea for less, so they came up with the plan of shipping opium into China. Like the US crack epidemic, China was a ripe target for such a strategy. Many desperate, impoverished people hit the opium pipe and an already-weakened country was further weakened. The US began shipping Turkish opium to China in the 1820s.
Under tremendous domestic pressure and real threats of revolt, the Qing dynasty was forced into action: they attempted to stop the flow of opium into China by force. In a pivotal incident in 1838, a famous Qing commissioner dumped 20,000 chests of opium from a British ship into the sea in Guangzhou. At that point, I wouldn’t say that war “broke out”; I would say that Britain attacked.
The Qing dynasty had never shown any interest in developing naval power, but they did have canons along the coast. However, the British gun-boats had bigger canons with longer range. What happened was that the British were able to bomb the coast of China with impunity while remaining out of range of Chinese canons. With no choice in the matter other than total destruction, the Qing court conceded to Britain’s demands, handing over Hong Kong, opening up to even deeper plunder, and beginning a series of Unequal Treaties. The Qing dynasty was overthrown in 1911 and the period of the Opium Wars is now known in China as “the Century of National Humiliation”.
That’s what you need to know about the Opium Wars. That’s why Hong Kong remained under British rule until 1997. That’s why China is fucking sensitive about European and North American demands and interference. That’s why Mao Zedong became such a huge hero to the Chinese people: he defeated the colonialists and kicked them out. This history continues to underlie relations between China and the West.
In Memory of Naji Al-Ali: Immortal Palestinian Cartoonist and hero .
Naji Al-Ali was born in 1936 in the Palestinian village of Ash Shajara. In 1948, Ash Shajara was one of the 480 villages destroyed in what is known as the “Nakba,” or catastrophe. The Nakba is the devastation of Palestine in the creation of the Israeli state: The Palestinians lost more than half of their land, massacres took place and 750,000 refugees were created. Naji Al-Ali was 10 years old when he and his family were expelled from Palestine to Ein Al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon.
Naji Al-Ali grew up to become perhaps the most popular cartoonist in the Arab world. With brutal honesty, Naji Al-Ali analyzed the relationships between the governments of the United States, Israel and the Arab regimes and the ramifications for the Palestinians. Time Magazine described him saying, “This man draws with human bones.” The Asahi Newspaper, in Japan, once wrote, “Naji Al-Ali draws using phosphoric acid.”
Naji Al-Ali was well loved for his work but was also well hated, as illustrated by the many death threats he and his family received. On July 22, 1987, in London, Naji Al-Ali was assassinated as he walked towards the offices of Al-Qabas newspaper. He died in the hospital on August 29th. His murderer has never been apprehended.
Naji Al-Ali was killed as the Intifada in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was beginning. To this day, Naji Al-Ali’s searing cartoons, seen through the eyes of the refugee boy named Handala, continue to be used over and over again.
Naji Al-Ali was one of the most prominent cartoonists in the Arab world. Sarcastic, poignant and perhaps too bold, Al Ali’s cartoons were drawn from his experience as a Palestinian refugee since childhood and clearly reflected his political stance, which was often critical of the Arab regimes. The following extracts are drawn from an interview with Radwa Ashour, novelist and professor of English literature at Ain Shams University, during the summer of 1984 in Budapest, Hungary. It was published in the periodical Al Muwagaha in 1985, only two years before Al-Ali was assassinated in London in 1987 at the age of 50.