department of Unruly histories (DUH) by Meera Shakti Osborne

department of Unruly histories is an artwork produced by Meera Shakti Osborne. 

Below is the transcription of audio played on loop in Cubitt Artists. This audio is made up of small sections taken from the long-form audio works. You can listen to the full pieces by visiting the ten sites across London. Please use the map to locate where you need to go.


AHHAHHA (Coming From Dirt): You entered, you drive with Amma and a brother-in-law, cousin and his mother-in-law, and his daughter, and her husband and his father, and another cousin brother, some in London, some in Jeddah, all distantly related. And the grandmother tells you of Bangladeshi familial naming practices. And how they are a way to keep track of all the far apart close spreadings of seeds as they got dispersed across the oceans, but for that reason, needed to know how to find each other again.

And after the police check your visa and you approach and you read from your little pink book. Where have written down from Muslim website instructions, as you attempt to intend and you read and try to memorise all that you once knew but forgot purposefully and accidentally as you slipped away, chucked away inch towards disposed of Westernality of received pronunciations and the destruction of all the West's origin stories.And you forgot it all. So you try to remember and feel superior and those that didn't look up at it on the website and didn't know you were meant to say all the other stuff after Labbaik. Labbaik, I have arrived. I see it. You see it and you pride yourself in being able to tell your Amma, who does not read and look things up on the website about all the right stuff to say because you so desperately want to intend to be real, to be authentic, to be accepted.

So you need to intend, you need to show you are within the boundary cadaver. Be within the boundary. They cannot expel you yet. Labbaik. Labbaik. And you see it and you're walking towards it. Oh, holiest, beautifulest object your eyes did ever see. And the waters fell. The waters fell from corner of eye down cheek onto marble and earth where your grandmother walked, where your ancestors dreamed of walking and the pretence falls.

The need to exist within boundary, it all falls. The need to be seen by the other cause in that moment, all you see is the Kaaba, and all you see is the glorious black cube with golden holy script. And there is suddenly no other. There is only the self in exposure in consonants with the people that are not other but Umma, all dressed in blank similarity and is just this self in vision of God under vision of God, the vision of God. And she sees all of you and rejects boundary and the prickly phoney containers that this body, this spirit, became cadavered into by the fear of the other, held by the other. She sees all of you and dissolves that container. Come as water, go as water in vision of God. Tears fall, membrane spill and leak, and you are one with it and all.

And you know, you in all of yourself that is fully boundaryless exposed to vision of God are loved. And see, it was never about the words. It was never about being right. It was about this moment where everything slips, where the mask does not exist. And your heart. Your heart, your heart is speaking in direct communion with the divine, the divine.


Veronica A* Amon (Sensorial Cruising): Scratch, rip drip, tap, spank, hit, bang, tik, snap, slurp. Cities London with its chatty birds and wailing sirens. There are auditory experiences that we hate. Chaos cannot be a reason to not make. Terror cannot hold a centre feeling it, sensing is clear. Do sirens even do that anymore? Does a person yelling make you do anything other than walk away? The pleasure is slowing down now via sound through secondary source sound bites and recorded voice notes. We want to dwell in the pleasure that auditory experiences can allow. Listening is the larger percentage of communication. To write, we must read, to speak we must first listen.

Buitumelo KM (Sensorial Cruising): being around them. I, I think I once described them as like a volcano, a dormant one specifically. And… I'd have these dreams and visualisations of like the sound that would be made when lava and water come together…cuz it's like a hard name, but, I dunno if you've ever heard, when people talk about like volcanic soil being very full of nutrients, and I know none of this is a sound, but like the slowness of that kind of hardening and there's sort of tshhhhh of water cooling down lava. It's a very similar tshhh, that comes from waterfalls even though there's like no sort of fire involved there. I dunno, what would sprouting sound like? Like that's what I think when I'm like, Ooh, last time someone got me going. And I really, cuz that question did come from just exploring these feelings I was carrying for someone, because I wanted to let them go. No. Rather, it felt poignant to put sounds to this relationship, to these feelings because a lot of it didn't feel real. I think that goes to like another part of whatever this could be, but I think there's that liking someone that sort of keeps you very grounded. Cause you're still thinking about earthy sounds, but it's like it almost had to be earthy sounds to remind me that no, this is a human being that's making you feel these things.


Black Venus (Could it be Love?): The body is the vessel for the soul. It is through our physiologies that we come to know the world in all its vastness and glory. We experience the beauty of nature through this temporary physical form, the wonders of the passing seasons warming then cooling the skin. Our bodies feel the rain and soak up the sun. Our bodies move through space and time, and sometimes they are very, very still. Yet despite the miracle of the living body, we can sometimes find ourselves in an unsettled space. Sometimes, the body is not always an inviting place. When the mind-body connection is disrupted, we can find ourselves mentally adrift, and physically exhausted.

At times we may find ourselves unanchored from our bodies. Through trauma, through fatigue, through shame, through the myriad different experiences that come to exhaust our senses. We may find ourselves with a sense of drifting, the feeling of existing somewhere between the extremities of our nerve endings and our psycho-physical awareness. 


AHHAHHA (Coming From Dirt): I remember what one of the early youth things that I was involved in as a young person. I remember talking to a young person, they were like, I, I thought, wow, you're so clever. I assume that they were, I was, I think I was 23 at the time. I assumed they must have been around my age.

And they were like only 16 years old. And I was like, that's in a way that's really amazing that you're so clever and they have all this knowledge. But it's also really sad that like you've had to have all this knowledge as a young, as such a young person. Um, and it's really cool that I feel like cause of like social media and the internet, kids are speeding up and they're getting access to all this knowledge much quicker.

Meera: ..they have to do it as well.

AHHAHHA (Coming From Dirt): They have to. And it's also kind of just, it's kind of like depressing that like they have to have this knowledge and that they've had. And I think that's why I think also youth work is really important to, without minimising the shit they're going through, to really intentionally create space for like, chill and joy and fun because it's a lot to hold, this really quite like depressing and almost apocalyptic and like seemingly unchangeable knowledge about like essentially systemic injustice.

*Yawn audio in the background*

I feel like a lot of people, our generation, our age kind of started getting that knowledge a bit later or had access to knowledge a bit later, whereas like a lot of like, especially like Black and brown queer kids and, and working classic kids in general, like okay that knowledge a lot younger now. I think when you'll getting that knowledge, which could so easily be so demobilising so young, it's really important to like… have access to spaces that are… that resist that energy.

Yeah. Like I said, I feel like the most useful thing that I can do as a youth worker is like, try my hardest to create a space where young people get to be as fully themselves as possible, whilst also in community with each other, with the kind of push and pull dynamic that that creates and like compromise dynamic that that creates as well.

Um, I think that's a really powerful thing. I think it teaches you a lot about like how to both be yourself fully, as fully yourself as you can be whilst also being in community of others and how you can like, on some level, modify yourself to be able to be in community of others. Cause that's really important.

Without that having to be a compromise on who you are. Um, and being able to balance those two things is really powerful. I think especially for queer young people. Trans young people.


Black Venus (Could it be Love?): I started learning martial arts when I was so young, I didn't really have any kind of, philosophical ideas about it at that age and also because I kind of resisted as well when I first started.. Well when I  first started training I was probably about… three, and started just doing my - 

Meera: Oh my god, you must have been so cute!!

*both laughing* 

Black Venus (Could it be Love?): I’ll find some photos yeah yeah, I’ll find some photos , um, but it was like, obviously like basics my dad was really obsessed with stretching so he would get me to like stretch and that kind of stuff, but then, when I was like seven was when I wanted to do, seven/eight was when I wanted to start training properly, and I was actually quite scared when i was a kid training, I was, I didn't like being here at all. So I didn't really see it as something cathartic, it used to be actually that it stressed me out.

So yeah it has become more of a cathartic practice in the last, ten years, it sounds like quite a long time but I think, that’s when I started having maybe more autonomy over like, my practice and my training because I was taking myself, I started taking, I found another art that I really like connected to and then I was like taking myself and going training and yeah so then it became about me as opposed to and what I wanted to do as opposed to just because I grew up doing something, grew up doing martial arts. 

So many martial arts schools don't have, *pause* don’t the emphasis on emotional discipline which is really important in order for, in order for like boys and men specifically to take those teachings out and use it in a like communal sense like, just because you can look after yourself doesn't necessarily mean that you’re going to be able to use those skills for good and like to protect your community or that it’s taught you the emotional discipline to treat women with respect or like, not just jump into fights, like, I know a lot of martial artists and there is a lot of ego, so I don’t think necessarily that they come hand in hand, at the same time I think people who are really interested in martial arts as a philosophical practice as well as a physical one tend to have a very, a much deeper understanding of the relationship between martial arts and like, healing in like a social sense?

So like, my Jujitsu teacher Dave Birk is very much aware and he has had like a very like, rich life but he has a very deep understanding of martial arts philosophy and how that can be applied to um, to daily life, and like your daily practice and my parents have, are like very well rounded individuals in the sense that they have like a lot of different interests and that’s always, so I was around like a lot of art when I was growing up, my mum was an art-my mum is an artist, she studied at Chelsea she has always been very like, artistically focused and my dad’s always, my dad also has an interest in like, both of them have an interest in like, film and philosophy and my dad’s a neuroscientist so there is always quite like, how does martial arts fit into all of those different area? So I think that kind of helped my understanding of the fact that martial arts is an art and how does that fit into the wider kind of scope of creative practice in general.


Angelica Udueni (Embracing Difference): Masking is, how would I describe it? It is a technique or a practice, a social practice by neurodivergent people that's taken on as a way to maybe blend into society or disguise the fact, their differences as a way to be accepted. For example, a lot of people, um, who are neurodivergent tend to have, um,  sensory sensitivities. This can manifest in many different ways, for example, certain  textures might feel uncomfortable in the skin. Or certain lights might be too bright in certain environments. Noises. For example being in crowds might, um, cause sensory overload and neurodivergent people often will have ways of regulating themselves like calming their nervous systems down, and this is called stimming. Stimming can take lots of different forms. Some people like to rock themselves. Some people might have a blanket that they have that they like to stroke, they might tap their feet. There’s so many, this is why I say these are spectrum conditions, so there is really no one size fits all. People have different relationships to stimming and I find that often people don't know how quite uncomfortable when they witness it. I definitely remember being told to stop. What is that I used to do? Like rocking myself, rocking my feet because it looks weird. It looks strange. People will think that, you know, that you’re unstable or mentally ill. So there's an element of shame that’s brought in, that’s brought into, and actually that actually could be used to, and actually its your body’s natural way of soothing yourself. And you actually see similar types of behaviour taking place in nature. There's an animal that shakes itself. There are a few animals that tend to shake themselves after experiencing high levels of stress.. So it makes sense from like a biological perspective, but I guess we're so not used to seeing things that are different, or often the, the reaction to someone that is doing something that we don't understand is to shame it or hide it. And um, a lot of the time neurodivergent people are just told, oh, what you’re doing is wrong because that's just not what people do.

Meera: It makes people uncomfortable. 

Angelica Udueni (Embracing Difference): Exactly. Makes people uncomfortable, they don’t like to see it. So it leads to neurodivergent people putting on a mask…so learning certain social cues, social codes to blend in and to be accepted essentially.


Buitumelo KM (Sensorial Cruising): Sound is mercurial. We hear things and can offset a thousand fields, exploration into how, what we enjoy hearing as pleasure as audiobooks and podcasts have grown obscenely popular so much It's a meme and a stereotype. Being black, gay and disabled doesn't feel pleasurable a lot of the time, especially for so long the pursuit of pleasure alongside another person or persons was unheard of. These days we can openly talk about kink and the types of ways people will seek to satiate hedonist ideals. But it's usually at the cost of something. This world is being built with our humanness on the margin, so our pleasure would not have the chance to be considered. Right now, the world is a blaze and our healthcare system is in trouble.What noises are ticking us over? Among a groan, a breath, a giggle, a sigh, a scream.


Jordan Minga (Performance, Personality, A Portrait?): *Jordan reads his poem to a dreamy harmonica and soft-beating djembe*

We saw the beast

A weapon in your front Pocket

To be used when

hope isn't an option

For some, violence is freedom

Let negativity take root in your words


In my past

Before I had a tongue

I had hands

Now I have damaged hands

And a tongue

I hate you

You made me better

I hate better

I hate better like butterflies

cocoon in winter

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Segment my life

Childhood, kidulthood, adult

Doing what you can!

To succeed

is to be in recognition of action

To direct my impact

In the life-long influence of

Influencing long-lost friends

Out of demonic battles with paigons

Seek relief in the light of life

Sit in meaningful

Wholesome moments

Lovingly shared

Never forgotten

short term

long term


Stay with me

Forgive me.

Your name doesn't matter.

Your name doesn't matter to me

Whether your name matters to anyone

Your name doesn't even matter to you

Whether your name,

Whether your name,

matters to your mum?

Where did your name come from?

Is a question; small talk loves

Is it worth a sorry?

If I didn't think to invite you

if I didn't think to invite you

I Apologise,

your name just didn't matter


your name just didn't come to mind

See your face in my memory

I can't believe it!

I didn't think to ask your name.

What is your name?

When you sense the effort

In my voice

That is how you know we are friends


I see you

we both know each other

Your face. A picture in my head

We must have met before?!

Close acquaintances

We hang out most nights talking bullshit

Smoking loud without

an open window

We turned your bedroom into a hotbox

Bagel king. 3 am. we went out for snacks

For the sake of having the munchies

it was a big portion

Watching another YouTube video

we finish the food

Softly dipping into a 2-hour nap

Until morning light.


Slaps me on my cheek.


Half dead, the zombie walks

Stumbling half-dead,

halfway home at 6 am

Kicked out of a friend's house

Walking through an empty

east street market

walking south; Burgess park

walking home; Peckham.

Take a meanderer

Place him on a hill

Let them stand or sit

Sun rays, Sunrise illuminated

A dazed young man ruminated

If I fixate on you

In my mind, your name is perfect

We all want to say, "I am here."

Remembering someone's name is the best way to say

"I remember you."


Meera (reading words by Lamya Sadiq, Dangerous Letters: What does the danger in the title refer to? Love ((Love echo)) Separation. ((Separation echo)) Fleeing. ((Fleeing echo)) Building ((Building echo)) Holding on ((Holding on echo)) Letting go ((Letting go echo)) Hoping ((Hoping echo)) These are all dangerous acts. They make us vulnerable and confront what matters to us. 

To act with love and in the belief that you will live abundantly is a dangerous thing.


Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL): Things that we want: free school meals,

Meera: Free education,

Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL): Free childcare,

Meera: A universal wage, 

Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL): Affordable rent and social rent, social housing, 

Meera: Secure housing, 

Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL):  Secure housing. No police, no prisons. More gardens and allotments.

Meera: Yeah, more trees. 

Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL):  Generally. Biodiversity that's relevant to where we are ‘cause why are all the trees giving us deadly hay fever. 

Meera: Mm-hmm. I've heard so many different theories about it. 

Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL): Me too. I heard that they're all male trees. 

Meera: I've heard that they're stressed. 

Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL):  Oh oh. 

Meera: Late club licences for all clubs.

Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL):  Late cafe licences for all cafes. 

Meera: Yeah, exactly. I'm often trying to get a hot chocolate in this city and it is difficult after 8PM. 

Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL):  It's so sad looking through the window of a cafe that's closed.


Meera: Better subjects being introduced to school curriculum in state schools..

Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL):  Mm. I only got to do classical civilizations in sixth form because one of…My sixth form was made up of four schools and one of them was a Church of England school and that's the only reason I got to do it cuz they had the funding.

Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL): Free up the heating!

Meera: Free up the heating!

Larena Amin (KURDS DON’T STEAL): Free up the heating..! So angry. I think a sentiment that we need to push more is to abolish all these incompetent Tories. ‘Cause sorry. How are you in charge of, you know, like a G12 country?

Tales and Reminiscences): “”Sound of the introduction to the song “We are Family” by Sister Sledge, great guitar riffs, funky bassline”””

Swati Patel (Tales and Reminiscences): There were communal baths quite near The Imperial War Museum and because in those… I think the Oval Mansions were originally built for nurses working at Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospital but in those days they all had to go to the public baths to have their showers, so we used to go there sometimes.

Meera: What were their public baths like? 

Swati Patel (Tales and Reminiscences): A bit like being in…. I don't know if you remember, when you first moved to Frankleigh House, there was like were cubicles. It’s a bit like that you know just a whole row of them, pretty grim *laughing* to be honest, you wouldn't want to go there if you had the choice, but, they were just showers, they weren't baths, they’re called public baths but…

Gayatri (Tales and Reminiscences): I have quite nice memories of public baths, somewhere near here, sort of Islington, where would they been? Maybe they still exist, maybe by Ironmonger Row or something and you would go there and you would get a bar of soap, a little bar of soap or something and you’d go and have a bath. You’d do that like once a week - just like a regular thing cause so many houses and flats didn’t have baths or showers even inside loos or anything . Especially when you didn't have hot water it was like quite a saving thing.

I do remember going there, but I also remember, when we first came to London in 1970, I would hear community people talking about how when they first came here people didn’t have baths every day, you had to go to the council bath. 

Swati Patel (Tales and Reminiscences): Right

Gayatri (Tales and Reminiscences): So you know that was how it was in this country and I remember the first place where we rented, when we first came to London and our landlord said to us, a whole family of 7 of us, living in a shared house with them and there was just one bathroom, maybe two, one toilet downstairs but for like, fourteen fifteen of us, and I remember the landlord saying to us.. 

“well you know now you’re in England so now, you have to remember that it’s very expensive, you know, the hot water and, so suggest that you just have a bath once a week” 

And that kind of shock we felt like ‘oh! but this is our Gujarati landlord who is telling us this!

**everyone chuckling together**

So maybe this what we should do! I can't remember if we did that or not, but there was certainly this sense of, now we are in England, it’s cold, you can't have baths everyday! * breaking out into laughter* you’ve got to save, save the pennies, it was all quite grim. 

Swati Patel (Tales and Reminiscences): Right

Gayatri (Tales and Reminiscences): But I kind of remember it with a lot of mirth, because I think we found it funny, it wasn’t like ‘oh my God this is so grim’. I think there was a lot of mirth, because, we were here and certainly for lots of us it was, the only way we could be here was by thinking ‘oh well, ok we will do this but we will do other things as well’, we will kind of do what we want

Swati Patel (Tales and Reminiscences): Yes 

Gayatri (Tales and Reminiscences): You know, people were quite mischievous and did break these kinds of traditions

Swati Patel (Tales and Reminiscences): And we had a bath both in the rented accommodation we were staying and the house that my parents bought, but they never had a bath as such, they had a little dol and *laughing* they put the dol in the bath, **laughter increasing** and they would have a dol bath they wouldn't have like a proper bath, it was only in the later years when they got really old and my sister suggested getting rid of the dol and the bath that they started having showers but right up to that point they just carried on having the-

Gayatri (Tales and Reminiscences): The dol bath!

Swati Patel (Tales and Reminiscences): The dol bath! 

Meera: Your Ba and Bapaji have the same trajectory as my Nanima and Nanabapu 

**laughing** We had many dol baths!

Gayatri (Tales and Reminiscences) : Yeah I can even remember the colour of the yellow dol the yellow bucket and the plastic, the red, plastic cup *laughing* 

Swati Patel (Tales and Reminiscences): Yeah and the plastic cup next to it, or sort of hanging on the side of it 

Gayatri (Tales and Reminiscences): Hmmmhmm

Swati Patel (Tales and Reminiscences): But when we first came as well, obviously when we first moved into the house my parents bought, I’m just gobsmacked as to how my mum actually had so much energy because she, for the first time in her life, after coming to this country she started working and then she used to come home and cook and then cause we didn't have a washing machine she used to actually wash all our clothes including the bedding and wash it in the bath, so she’d like be bending over and washing and I was just thinking about that the other day and thinking wow! How did she manage?

Gayatri (Tales and Reminiscences): And ringing everything by hand! Where did she work, your mum? 

Swati Patel (Tales and Reminiscences): She worked… So fiirst she used to work in a clothes factory up in Oxford Circus, making clothes and then she worked in a launderette for a while, which she really didn't like but she got all the women to join a union, I don’t know which union…

Gayatri (Tales and Reminiscences): In the launderette? 

Swati Patel (Tales and Reminiscences): Yes because the conditions were so bad the conditions… And I think she knew Jayaben Desai, the lady who started the Grunswick strikes. Because in Patels, they are all from Khergam so you know people - so she knew this Jeyaben Desai  and she had referred quite a few people to Grunwicks to work, a lot of her friends who had come over.

But then I think they were giving her quite a hard time in this launderette so then she started working for the, for a carpet factory which I think she was quite happy there.


Lamya Sadiq (Dangerous Letters): The letter starts off with my nana letting her know that he finally arrived to London, and something really interesting that he says is that, and I'll read it in Bangla…

Shei dom atkano poribesh theke mukto peyechi. Dhaka’r basha theke beriye, gari te jokhon utlam ar gari start holo na, tokhon tomader mon khubi kharap hoiye giyechilo. Prothomei badha - tobou firini. 

What he says here in the first line, that he is describing that as he was leaving the house where my nanny was, where my mom and my uncle were, that he was being liberated. I thought it would be the opposite of that, where.. 

Meera: Your heart is ripped in two... 

Lamya Sadiq (Dangerous Letters): Yeah. Like I can't bear to be, I can't bear to leave all of you. It was the hardest thing I had to do. And then afterwards he describes how when he got into the car that it didn't start and that that was kind of a feeling that, am I ever going to be able to leave? Like, here's the first obstacle, and then followed it with a description of how even that setback, I guess a symbolic setback didn't, diminish his determination to not look back.

And so already at this point, we're getting a, it's almost like the beginning of a short story. Like, you know, what's happening? Why is he leaving? Why is there this, why is it loaded with images of being liberated of not looking back. . And he does mention in it that he remembers seeing their faces as he was leaving and that they were incredibly sad, but that he had to kind of, like I said, not look back.

I mean, factually, I can describe why that might have been, because at the time, the reason that my Nana left Bangladesh, or at the time East Pakistan was because my family and many others that were close to him feared for his life because during that time, in early 1971 and for actually quite a few years before that, um, but most, most kind of significantly in the last. In the last year or so, there was just a lot of intellectuals, artists, anyone, anybody really that was notable. And I guess like pro independence was subject to surveillance and identification by the Pakistani military and i think there were quite a few people that my grandparents knew who had been murdered and people had been murdered, professors had been murdered at the universities, you know, alongside students. So it certainly wasn't just people who were, had some kind of celebrity or had some kind of recognition. It were also there. There were also just people pro liberation as caught in the crossfire and especially those that occupied, you know, spaces that were , creative spaces as well. It's, it's, it's interesting actually, and maybe Meera you could say something about this, is that why is it that the arts is such a threat that one of the first things to like diminish a liberation movement is to attack the creative people?

Meera: Even right now in the UK you see that happening. On a, in a different way. But in schools, the, the cuts to certain subjects, the cuts to things like philosophy used to be a subject you could study in quite a lot of state schools. Now you can't, and I guess the thing that the arts teaches in like an umbrella way is to like question things, right?

Lamya Sadiq (Dangerous Letters): Mm-hmm.

Meera: as like an artist, you're taught to notice and to question, to record, to observe, to analyse. To share that. And that is a threat, isn't it? 

Lamya Sadiq (Dangerous Letters): Yeah, I mean, incredibly so that would cause not only the disruption, but the end of so many lives... 


Idman : umm.. I agree with everything that you’ve said, especially about the importance of returning to community as a way of survival because that’s what we are doing you know we are trying to get free together, we can’t do it by ourselves. Umm, and I think that, I feel like I have manifested this, in being in this way and organizing in this way, um, and I guess through, for me like, being in environmental spaces or in academia, ummm, and feeling othered and feeling like, you know, my perspectives or, you know the things that I was interested in, the topics were too radical or too political, which basically meant I was not meant to be there, because I am political, my existence is political, so being in those spaces where these, like, eurocentric, colonial narratives are celebrated, these kind of, romanticised, like, romanticising nature and of something that is like so far away and untouched and are looking into kind of the urban environments and also, I was just trying to find something to relate to, someone to relate to, and that required me looking outside of, the institution, you know, outside of the mainstream narratives, um, and that’s how I found, you know, Alice Walker and Bell Hooks, learned about eco-womenism by incredible book written by Reverend Melanie Al Harris and that’s how I started to learn a little bit about black feminist ecologies and learn about the parallels between the suffering of black women and the suffering of the earth and something opened, you know, I was like there is more to this.


Moving to London and trying to like, understand, right, I know the theory you know, but what is this, how do you practice, you know, and keeping the balance between that you know and I think that is through a lot of my community gardening is the centering of the narratives and the histories and the knowledges that are erased and taking place and disrupting the status quo of you know, environmental spaces of gardens and the horticulture sector but, it’s not only that though it’s so much deeper, you know, because, it’s also about, you know the ancestral, the spiritual work, self-love.

 Building community with the earth, is building community with myself… 

Lateisha : yeah

Idman : .. and building community with others, it all kind of goes together, being in the right relationship, so for me it’s kind of a way of making sense of the world, and like you said, feel a sense of belonging, so through this work, I feel a sense of belonging and that is how I make sense of the world, you know people do that through art or through singing through writing and you know for me it’s the trees, the soil, *laughs* and that is how I arrived here, you know I arrived here, because I wanted to find myself… And we found each other.

*****chimes, birds chirping*******


Raju Rage (Zines, Scenes, Squats, Anti-racism, Gender Everything and the Kitchen Table) : What I know from the pattern of gentrification is that a lot of it is about, you know, these property laws about what the local council kind of have arrangements with the government about, you know, the relationship to the place. So, you know, Hackney was really gentrified in the sense that there was this, this corridor, you know, that goes…the financial from the city, the financial district downwards. So it was very, very close, right to Shoreditch, to Liverpool Street, to that, that, that city of London. And that's the main reason why it was heavily gentrified in that way. Mm-hmm. . But I also know that, you know, Hackney has been one of the most impoverished councils and neighbourhoods.

Meera: Still is.

Raju Rage (Zines, Scenes, Squats, Anti-racism, Gender Everything and the Kitchen Table There was corruption in the government. They had always been slums. Then there had been slum clearance, you know, this is way back, like in the 18 -19th century. So, you know, all of that kind of was happening before. And, you know, a lot of immigrants, I guess all the kinds of marginalised immigrant communities had moved there in terms of who came first? The Huguenots., the Orthodox Jews, the Irish came in the 1940s. Turkish community, Kurdish community in the 1930s and also eighties and nineties, the Vietnamese community and then Africans in the 60s and also in the 80s. and sorry. And, Caribbean communities came in the after with the wind rush and then South Asians in the fifties and sixties, and then Eastern Europeans more recently. So there has been a huge migration coming to the area. And so, yeah, you know, the, the, they always wanted to, or the council got all this funding to create these residential properties that would allow people to commute to the city of London. You know, so it was really kind of focused on this kind of access to that sector, that area. And, yeah, I mean, I'm just trying to think, you know, in terms of like, okay, the squatting community was really against kind of property, property laws and like trying to engage with that on that level. But at the same time, our communities were probably a little like a bubble, like in terms of, we didn't engage with, we, I guess we wanted to, but we didn't... How, how much did we engage with those local communities, those immigrant communities that live there? You know, and I know there's also barriers because I know there's a lot of stigma around squatting, like, and, and people consider it dirty and, and, and, and also dissidents are considered dirty or like disgusting or whatever. So there's barriers. 

Meera: There's also a lot of pressure. Of like immigrant communities, especially like

Raju Rage (Zines, Scenes, Squats, Anti-racism, Gender Everything and the Kitchen Table: Yeah

Meera: Black and Brown immigrant communities. To be .. 

Raju Rage (Zines, Scenes, Squats, Anti-racism, Gender Everything and the Kitchen Table: To be respectable. 

Meera: To be respectable. Exactly. And it's like, there's so much pressure to do that and Squatting is like the opposite of that.

Raju Rage (Zines, Scenes, Squats, Anti-racism, Gender Everything and the Kitchen Table:  Exactly, exactly. So there were always gonna be these, these kinds of barriers. I think they were, we, in many ways, we did try to engage with those communities.

Meera: Mm-hmm. ,

Raju Rage (Zines, Scenes, Squats, Anti-racism, Gender Everything and the Kitchen Table:  you know, and in, in many ways, In some ways we did, but, but in terms of like, them becoming, being very much, us being a, a wider community to get together, I don't think, you know, I'm, I'm thinking about the story that Parastou mentioned about Spirit and, and his shop and, and people squatting there, and so there were these moments, there were these solidarities, they were happening. But on a bigger scale, I don't think they were as much as they should have been. And I think, you know, Parastou mentions also that when Mark Duggan was murdered by the police, I think there was a lack of solidarity coming from, from the, the , white queer anarchist community. 

Meera: So it's like with the riots? Really?

Raju Rage (Zines, Scenes, Squats, Anti-racism, Gender Everything and the Kitchen Table: Yeah. Yeah.

Meera: Mm-hmm. . 

Raju Rage (Zines, Scenes, Squats, Anti-racism, Gender Everything and the Kitchen Table: So I think, you know, I'm not saying that that didn't happen, that, you know, I can't speak, I can't generalise. There probably were people and, but there were also people who weren't. So I think that was quite disappointing for some of us, you know? 

Meera: So I think, and that exposes class, doesn't it?

Raju Rage (Zines, Scenes, Squats, Anti-racism, Gender Everything and the Kitchen Table: it's class, but it's also that sense of like, oh, that's not, we're not part of. So then it really you, that means that you really separate yourself, you know, from the area, from the neighbourhoods, from what's happening, you know? And that's what I think is, and maybe because also, like I said, a lot of people were coming from Europe or whatever. Maybe they didn't feel this sense of like being from here, you know, so that maybe they didn't feel that connection that maybe we felt were like, we grew up here, we're born here, whatever.

Meera: Like we.. we're part of these communities . 

Raju Rage (Zines, Scenes, Squats, Anti-racism, Gender Everything and the Kitchen Table Yeah. We're part of these communities. 


Transcriptions by Sarah Maher and Hania Mariam Luthufi 

Audio Mixing and Mastering by Alex Sushon