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The Fire These Times

The Fire These Times

By Joey Ayoub
Each week, Lebanese writer Joey Ayoub brings you conversations at the intersection of politics, history, philosophy, culture, science, and all the fun stuff in between. It is a project born out of my conviction that doing so requires an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach to understanding our complex world.

Named after the James Baldwin book 'The Fire Next Time', this is a podcast about tackling the 21st century.

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Cover art by Wenyi Geng.
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110/ Climate Narratives that Go Beyond the Apocalypse w/ Alyssa Hull
This is a conversation with Alyssa Hull who splits her time between teaching high school biology and environmental science and writing speculative fiction.  We spoke about what it's like to talk to high school students about climate change, the role of fiction like Solarpunk and how to improve climate communication. The article she wrote that we reference is called 'Hopepunk and Solarpunk: On Climate Narratives That Go Beyond the Apocalypse' for LitHub.  Support:  Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Games mentioned: Mutazione   Cloud Gardens  Common'Hood  Recommended Books: Parable of the Sower - Octavia Butler The Nutmeg's Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis - Amitav Gosh Underland: A Deep Time Journey - Robert Macfarlane
May 20, 2022
109/ Pro-Palestine Activism, Anti-Authoritarianism and Democracy in the Arab World w/ Dana El-Kurd
This is a conversation with Dana El-Kurd, her second time on the podcast. We spoke about a paper that she wrote entitled "Gateway to dissent: the role of pro-Palestine activism in opposition to authoritarianism." We primarily spoke about the role of pro-Palestine activism in pro-democracy movements in the Arab world (with examples from Qatar, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia) and also about how pro-Palestine discourse is used to whitewash authoritarianism, especially in the West. Support:  Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me   Substack:   Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Recommended Books: عزمي بشارة - المجتمع المدني Joyful Militancy: Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Times (Anarchist Interventions) by Carla Bergman and Nick Montgomery Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique by Sa'ed Atshan Contested Modernity: Sectarianism, Nationalism, and Colonialism in Bahrain by Omar Al-Shehabi
May 13, 2022
108/ What Asexuality Says About Society w/ Angela Chen
This is a conversation with Angela Chen, author of the book 'Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex'. Support:  Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes This isn't an Asexuality 101 episode. Feel free to look up the basics if you want. There are loads of asexuals who do explain what it means, Angela Chen's book including. This episode is more about what asexuality says about our societies. And as I'm notoriously crap at explaining why I like the books I like, I am going to read a paragraph written by Sarah Neilson for which summarizes really well why Chen's book matters: "The crux of society’s difficulty with accepting asexuality is, Chen argues, because compulsory sexuality is ingrained in societal narratives about mental and physical health, politics and liberation, and interpersonal relationships. Compulsory sexuality posits that sex is a primal human need, ties sex to maturity, and places sex in relationship hierarchies. Even in the queer community, though we hate to be oversexualized by the straights, we often sexualize ourselves and each other. And while queer sex is indeed liberating for allosexuals (or those that do experience sexual attraction), so is the ability not to have sex. Chen argues, through a fantastic blend of nuanced and clear-eyed reporting, research, and personal reflection, that true liberation requires the dismantling of compulsory sexuality." So yeah, this book is great. Recommended Books: Minimizing Marriage: Morality, Marriage, and the Law by Elizabeth Brake Refusing Compulsory Sexuality: A Black Asexual Lens on Our Sex-Obsessed Culture by Sherronda J. Brown More Than Friends by Rhaina Cohen
May 06, 2022
107/ Black Anarchism, Abolition and the Radical Tradition w/ William C. Anderson
This is a conversation with William C. Anderson, author of the book The Nation on No Map (AK Press 2021) and co-author of As Black as Resistance (AK Press 2018). He’s also the co-founder of Offshoot Journal and provides creative direction as a producer of the Black Autonomy Podcast. Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Topics Discussed: Long conversation on Black anarchism The influence of Zen Buddhism Seeing the world as a janitor Critiques of black nationalism, capitalism and liberalism The legacy of slavery and Reconstruction on Black people in the US Tensions between ‘reform’ and ‘revolution’ The legacy of the Black Panthers Party Internationalism vs Intercomunalism Afro-futurism and Solarpunk Recommended Books: A Map to the Door of No Return by Dionne Brand The Terms of Order: Political Science and the Myth of Leadership by Cedric J. Robinson Facing Reality by C.L.R. James and Grace C. Lee The James Baldwin clip I mentioned: 
April 29, 2022
🌻 Ukraine Special: 3. The threads that bind us from Syria to Ukraine
This episode is a multilingual online encounter, part of the Post-Extractive Futures series, co-produced by War on Want, Tipping Point UK, JunteGente, and The Fire These Times project. I was the moderator. Guests: Yassin al Haj Saleh, who will be speaking in English, is a Syrian writer and former political prisoner. He is author of several books on Syria, prison, contemporary Islam, intellectual responsibility, and experiences of the atrocious. He is the husband of Samira al Khalil, who was abducted by an armed Islamist group in Douma in December 2013. He now lives in Berlin. Wafa Mustafa, who will also be speaking in English, is a Syrian activist, a journalist, a survivor of detention. Mustafa comes from Masyaf, a city in the Hama governorate in western Syria. She left the country on 9 July 2013, exactly a week after her father was forcibly disappeared by the regime in Damascus. In her advocacy, Mustafa covers the impact of detention on young girls, women, and families. Yuliya Yurchenko, who will also be speaking in English, is a senior lecturer in political economy at the department of economics and international business and a researcher at the political economy, governance, finance, and accountability institute at the University of Greenwich, UK. She is the author of Ukraine and the Empire of Capital, which was published by Pluto Press in 2017. She researches state, capital, and society relations as well as public services as a commons with a regional focus on Europe and Ukraine. Taras Bilous, who will be speaking in Ukrainian, is a Ukrainian historian and an activist of the Social Movement Organization. As an editor of for Commons, a journal of social critique, he covers the topics of war and nationalism. He has recently written quite a lot of articles, including “A Letter to the Western Left from Kiev” as well as “The Left in the West Must Rethink.” Transcription and YouTube video available on the website:  Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes
April 22, 2022
106/ Football is Political: #Qatar2022, Russia and What Comes Next w/ Musa Okwonga and Justin Salhani
This is a conversation with Justin Salhani of 'Oh My Goal' and Musa Okwonga (his 4th time on the pod) of 'Stadio' about football, politics and human rights. We talked about the upcoming world cup in Qatar, the role of dirty money in football (including Russian, Emirati and Saudi) and what might come next. Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Recommended Books: The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer by David Goldblatt (Musa) Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano (Musa) Football Against the Enemy by Simon Kuper (Musa) You Have Not Yet Been Defeated by Alaa Abd El-Fattah (Justin) The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz (Justin) The Billionaires Club: The Unstoppable Rise of Football’s Super-rich Owners by James Montague (Justin)
April 15, 2022
105/ What 'Living With Covid' Actually Means w/ Martin Paul Eve
This is a conversation with academic Martin Paul Eve, professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London. We spoke about his article 'just the first two years' about what the past two years of pandemic have been for him as someone with an autoimmune condition called panhypogammaglobulinemia. I found his article as I myself recently caught Covid following the Swiss government's decision to first reduce health measures, before removing them altogether. As many governments remove all remaining health measures, life is becoming increasingly difficult for many people, especially those who are disabled or immunocompromised. What does this say about our political culture if we allow this to become the norm? This is what this conversation was about. We focused on the UK and Switzerland as this is where we are, but this is applicable to many other countries as well. Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Recommended Books: The Overstory by Richard Powers Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon See Under: Love by David Grossman Photo by visuals on Unsplash
April 08, 2022
104/ The Urgency of the IPCC Report w/ Dr Rupa Mukerji and Dr Lisa Schipper
This is a conversation with Dr Rupa Mukerji and Dr Lisa Schipper, both of whom worked on the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. What we talked about: What you should know about the most recent IPCC report In-depth exploration of the IPCC report Understanding vulnerabilities to climate change What is Maladaptation? With examples Who takes action? Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Resources Mentioned: Climate activists asking Europe to abandon Russian oil Recommended Books: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (Lisa) Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Lisa) At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability and Disasters by Piers M. Blaikie, Terry Cannon, Ian Davis and Ben Wisner (Lisa) The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh (Rupa) Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh (Rupa) The Gospel of the Eels by Patrik Svensson (Rupa)
April 01, 2022
🌻 Ukraine Special: 2. From Ukraine, with Love (and Anger) w/ Romeo Kokriatski
In light of what's been happening in Ukraine I am publishing a series of episodes that will bring in critical perspectives to understand what's happening and why it's happening. The second episode is with Ukrainian journalist Romeo Kokriatski. He is managing editor at New Voice Ukraine, co-host of the Ukraine Without Hype podcast (go check it out) and has written for outlets such as Nihilist, Hromadske, Zaborona, and more. PS: if my voice sounds weird here it's because I managed to get myself infected with COVID-19, so that's been fun. Important note: this is not a news update. For news updates check the podcasts below: Ukraine Without Hype by Romeo Kokriatski and A. Bartaway Popular Front Ukrainecast - BBC The Ex-Worker Talk Eastern Europe Links on how to help Ukrainians: + + + + + Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes
March 25, 2022
103/ The Periphery and Aimé Césaire's Ghosts in the Syrian Revolution w/ Fadi Bardawil
This is a conversation with Fadi Bardawil, his 2nd time on the podcast. Bardawil is an anthropologist who researches the Leftist tradition in the Arab world. In this episode, we talked about two essays he's written: "Forsaking the Syrian Revolution: An Anti-Imperialist Handbook" and "Critical Theory in a Minor Key to Take Stock of the Syrian Revolution". What we talked about: Thinking about the Syrian revolution Aimé Césaire and Stalinism Tension between Leftists in the Metropoles and Revolutionaries in the Peripheries Learning from the Palestinian story Domestic politics in the Metropoles becoming global politics Focusing on wider trends instead of individual motives Discourses that erase the Syrian revolution Example of Hong Kong Example of the Lebanese Left of the 60s Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Recommended Books: The Syrian Revolution: Between the Politics of Life and the Geopolitics of Death by Yasser Munif الفظيع وتمثيله - ياسين الحاج صالح Readings in Syrian Prison Literature: The Poetics of Human Rights by R. Shareah Taleghani
March 18, 2022
ARCHIVE: the Legacy of Chemical Weapons from Halabja to Ghouta w/ Sabrîna Azad
Today we commemorate the 1988 #HalabjaGenocide of Kurds by the Saddam Hussein regime. I'm re-sharing Sabrîna Azad's 2020 episode on the long-term effects of chemical weapons and the shared trauma and solidarity between Halabja and Ghouta. Azad is a writer who published a moving piece for Mangal Media entitled ‘From Halabja to Ghouta‘  in which she looked at how deniers of Assad’s war crimes in Syria were evoking painful memories for survivors of Saddam Hussein’s genocidal campaigns against Kurds. She spoke about the legacy of the Halabja massacre, part of the Anfal genocide of the late 80s, as well as the 1991 uprisings against Saddam and why they offer better insight into the world’s reaction to Syria since 2011 than the more frequently mentioned 2003 invasion of Iraq does. Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes
March 16, 2022
102/ On the Need to Shape the Arab Exile Body w/ Amro Ali
This is a conversation with Amro Ali, author of the essay "On the Need to Shape the Arab Exile Body in Berlin." He is also co-president of the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities, research fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin, and lecturer in sociology at the American University in Cairo (AUC). Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes What we talked about: Moving from the centers to the peripheries Why Berlin? And not London, Paris, New York or Istanbul Berlin as an incomplete city and Germany's past Germany and the Arabs The Koblenz trial, accountability in Germany (but not in the Arab world) January 25 and the legacy of the Arab Spring for the exile body Home as the place where all attempts to escape cease Valuing public spaces Survivor's guilt and impostor's syndrome Challenges faced by Arabs and other non-white people in Berlin Meeting other Arabs for the first time in Europe The need for a connection between Berlin and other capitals, such as Beirut or Tunis Politics of language and the use of Arabic in the diaspora Recommended Books: City of Exiles: Berlin from the outside in by Stuart Braun Representations of the Intellectual by Edward W. Said Exile, Statelessness, and Migration: Playing Chess with History from Hannah Arendt to Isaiah Berlin by Seyla Benhabib Resources Mentioned: The Der Spiegel article: Branch 251 Podcast Previous episodes mentioned: My Father and Syria’s Forcibly Disappeared (With Wafa Mustafa) Space Travel, Nostalgia, and Retrofuturism (With Nat Muller) That Cairo Concert, Mental Health and Growing Up Queer in Lebanon (With Hamed Sinno) Why I stopped writing about Syria (With Asser Khattab) Queerness, Literature and Revolution (With Saleem Haddad)
March 11, 2022
🌻 Ukraine Special: 1. A View From Syria w/ Leila Al-Shami
In light of what's been happening in Ukraine I am publishing a series of episodes that will, hopefully, bring in perspectives that are usually not platformed. The first episode is with British-Syrian writer and activist Leila Al-Shami. She's the co-author of the book "Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War." Important note: this is not a news update. For news updates check the podcasts below: Ukraine Without Hype by Romeo Kokriatski and A. Bartaway Popular Front Ukrainecast - BBC The Ex-Worker Talk Eastern Europe Links on how to help Ukrainians: + + + + + Relevant reading: War in Ukraine: Ten Lessons from Syria - Crimethinc Syrians recount horror under Russian air attacks - Al Jazeera Why Ukraine Is a Syrian Cause - Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, DAWN ‘Our fates are united’: Syrians rally behind Ukraine after years of Russian torment - The Guardian Safe, - Edge of Syria The Fire These Times links: Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes
March 07, 2022
101/ Mending the World: A Jewish-Arab Diaspora Conversation w/ Cindy Milstein
This is a conversation with Cindy Milstein, they (I wrongly used 'she' in the intro) are the editor of the book "There is Nothing so Whole as a Broken Heart: Mending the World As Jewish Anarchists"  Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes  What we talked about: - Displacement as part of the Jewish experience Being diaspora (Jewish and Arab) - Having communities without states - Politics of language (Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino etc) - Authoritarianism and flattening our differences - Jewish anarchism - Hegemonic narratives in Europe (Examples of Dreyfus affair, Alsace, Berlin, Spain) - Oral histories Tisha B'av, 1492, Tree of Life massacre and needing a language for grief - Wrestling with difficulties - Antisemitism on the right and the left Recommended Books:  - An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon - The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg - Pet by Akwaeke Emezi Link to Yiddish, Ladino and Judeo-Arabic songs:
March 04, 2022
100/ The Story of Three Black Mothers: Louise Little, Berdis Baldwin and Albert King w/ Anna Malaika Tubbs
This is a conversation with Anna Malaika Tubbs, author of the book "The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation." Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes What we talked about: The lives of Berdis Baldwin, Louise Little and Alberta King and why their stories matter Anna becoming a mother while writing a book about black motherhood Their famous sons - James Baldwin, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr - eclipsing their own lives Contextualizing their lives an the long history of violence against black women The role of religion in their lives Books Mentioned: Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880–1920 by Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood by Dani McClain In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens by Alice Walker The Mothers by Brit Bennett
February 25, 2022
ARCHIVE: Disinformation, Russia and Syrian-Ukrainian Solidarity w/ Peter Pomerantsev
Initially published in June 2020, I'm re-sharing this episode with Peter Pomerantsev with y'all because of what's been happening in Ukraine lately. I'm preparing a new episode on Ukraine but it's taking a bit of time because I want to make sure I'm well-read enough to be an engaging host.  Old link: Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes
February 23, 2022
99/ Inconvenient Findings and Enduring Hierarchies w/ Marie Berry and Milli Lake
This is a conversation with Marie E. Berry and Milli Lake, co-founders and principal investigators of the Women’s Rights After War Project. We primarily spoke about their article "on inconvenient findings" and their paper for Annual Reviews "women's rights after war: on gender interventions and enduring hierarchies" Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Topics Discussed: The limitations of many 'women's empowerment' programs What happens when research findings challenge the work that policy makers are invested in promoting? Example of degrowth and economics Who gets excluded when certain interests (such as class) are maintained? Examples of Rwanda, Bosnia and Lebanon Narrowly-defined arena for justice The three Dayton agreements (referencing the episode with Aida Hozic) and ongoing situation in Bosnia and Serbia War logics in 'postwar' contexts The USA as a 'postwar' country Should we make inconvenient findings less inconvenient? The idea of nation states The role of futurism and speculative movements Resources Mentioned: 69/ The Entrenched “Manliness” of Ethnic Power-sharing Peace Agreements (with Aida A. Hozić) Recommended Books: Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines by Alexis Pauline Gumbs Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline Gumbs The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by adrienne maree brown Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation by adrienne maree brown On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint by Maggie Nelson Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
February 18, 2022
Crossover: The Strange Amnesia of Lebanon's Wars w/ New Lines
This is a crossover episode with New Lines Podcast on the topic of 'postwar' Lebanon. A big thank you to New Lines’ Faisal Al Yafai and Lydia Wilson for hosting this conversation.   Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes
February 11, 2022
98/ Space, Nostalgia and Retro-Futurism in Palestine and Lebanon w/ Nat Muller
This is a conversation with Nat Muller, an independent curator, writer and academic living between the UK and Amsterdam.  Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes She is an expert in contemporary art from the Middle East and curated the Danish pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, showing Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour. She has curated shows at major venues, including Eye Film Museum Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, The Mosaic Rooms in London and ifa Gallery in Berlin. She is an AHRC Midlands3Cities-funded PhD student at Birmingham City University working on science fiction in contemporary art from the Middle East. We primarily talked about her paper "Lunar Dreams: Space Travel, Nostalgia, and Retrofuturism in A Space Exodus and The Lebanese Rocket Society". Topics Discussed: Space travel and science fiction Space travel and the Arab world A Palestinian space exodus and the Lebanese Rocket Society The prolonged present and stolen futures The role of nostalgia The mnemonic imagination Who is space for? It is easier to reach the moon than Jerusalem The limitations of the nation state in Arabic science fiction Afro-futurism Resources Mentioned: The Future Palestinian Present: Film: Erased, Ascent of the Invisible by Ghassan Halwani: Film: Those Who Remain by Eliane Raheb Film: Ila Ayn? by Georges Nasser Film: Safar Barlik by Henry Barakat The Legacy of the Great Lebanon Famine (with Lina Mounzer and Timour Azhari): The Nation on No Map: Black Anarchism and Abolition by William C. Anderson (upcoming guest): Article on The Lebanese Rocket Societythat I wrote in 2013 Recommended Books: The Anthropocene Unconscious: Climate Catastrophe Culture by Mark Bould The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis by Amitav Ghosh Refugee Heritage by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti
February 04, 2022
97/ Why I Stopped Writing About Syria w/ Asser Khattab
This is a conversation with Asser Khattab, a Syrian writer who has reported on Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq for various international news outlets. We spoke about his essay for New Lines Magazine, "why I stopped writing about Syria." Support: Website: http://TheFireThisTi.Me Substack: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Topics Discussed: How Asser started writing about Syria Pigeonholing as Arab journalists Why Asser stopped writing about Syria Us leaving Lebanon at the same time Picturing safe spaces What is 'normal'? The role of Twitter in journalism The dangers of living in Lebanon as an undocumented Syrian Survivor's guilt and imposter's syndrome Resources Mentioned: A look at the Lebanon uprising through its chants  Syrian melancholy in Lebanon's revolution Newlines Podcast That Cairo Concert, Mental Health and Growing Up Queer in Lebanon (With Hamed Sinno) ‘Revolution everywhere’: A conversation between Hong Kong and Lebanese protesters Hong Kong’s Existential Crisis (with JP) Syrian Prison Literature and the Poetics of Human Rights (with Shareah Taleghani) Syria, Journalism and the Cost of Indifference In the End, It Was All About Love (with Musa Okwonga) Recommended Books: Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe God: An Anatomy by Francesca Stavrakopoulou
January 28, 2022
96/ The Arab Spring Diaspora Against Transnational Repression w/ Dana Moss
This is a conversation with Dana Moss, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame and the author of the book "The Arab Spring Abroad: Diaspora Activism against Authoritarian Regimes." Support: Website: TheFireThisTi.Me Substack newsletter: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Topics Discussed: How Yemeni, Libyan and Syrian diasporas in the US and UK reacted to the Arab Spring Risks of protesting in the diaspora Government responses to diaspora pressures and activism Personal insights from my own experience Why diasporas are still undervalued Impostor's syndrome and survivor's guilt Diasporas are not homogeneous The Interpol problem Legacy of the Arab Spring Recommended Books: Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War by Leila Al-Shami and Robin Yassin-Kassab We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria by Wendy Pearlman The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar The War on the Uyghurs: China's Internal Campaign against a Muslim Minority by Sean R. Roberts Dictators Without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia by Alexander Cooley and John Heathershaw
January 21, 2022
95/ Untellable Stories, Reproductive Justice & Complicating Acts of Advocacy w/ Shui-yin Sharon Yam
This is a conversation with Shui-yin Sharon Yam (her 2nd time on the podcast) largely around a paper that she wrote called "Complicating Acts of Advocacy: Tactics in the Birthing Room". She is Associate Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies, and a faculty affiliate of Gender and Women's Studies and the Center for Equality and Social Justice at the University of Kentucky. She is one of the series editors for the Ohio State University Press's New Directions in Rhetoric and Materiality. Support: Website: TheFireThisTi.Me Substack newsletter: Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Topics Discussed: Rhetorical Analysis, Reproductive Justice and Doulas: Intro to each and the links between them Three pillars of Reproductive Freedom and global implications Rhetoric of Health and Medicine: intro and explanation Technocratic model of birth: intro and explanation What makes some stories 'untellable'? The pitfalls of the 'self-made moms' rhetoric Rhetoric and the antivaxx movement Resources Mentioned: Romper's Doula Diaries on YouTube "Rhetorical Appeals and Tactics in New York Times Comments About Vaccines: Qualitative Analysis" "Using Rhetorical Situations to Examine and Improve Vaccination Communication" Vaccine Rhetorics Recommended Books: Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth by Dána-Ain Davis We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood by Dani McClain Trans Medicine: The Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender by Stef M. Shuster
January 14, 2022
94/ The Political Economy of Solarpunk w/ Andrew Dana Hudson
This is a conversation with speculative fiction writer and  sustainability researcher Andrew Dana Hudson. His stories have appeared  in Slate Future Tense, Lightspeed Magazine, Vice Terraform, MIT  Technology Review, Grist, Little Blue Marble, The New Accelerator,  StarShipSofa and more, as well as various books and anthologies. His  fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and longlisted for the  BSFA. In 2016 his story “Sunshine State” won the first Everything  Change Climate Fiction Contest, and in 2017 he was runner up in the  Kaleidoscope Writing The Future Contest. His 2015 essay “On the  Political Dimensions of Solarpunk” has helped define and grow the  “solarpunk” subgenre. He is a member of the cursed 2020 class of the  Clarion Workshop. Support: Website: TheFireThisTi.Me Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Topics Discussed: What is Solarpunk? Introduction to his essay “On the Political Dimensions of Solarpunk“ The urgency of Solarpunk and the response to Cyberpunk Post-normal fiction Solarpunk and global network society: why did it start in the 2010s? The importance of care work Solarpunk and the future of cities Solarpunk and utopias Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction The climate activism momentum How has Solarpunk changed over the years? Also: discussion of COP26 and Green New Deal Books mentioned + Recommended: Multispecies Cities: Solarpunk Urban Futures edited by Priya  Sarukkai Chabria and Taiyo Fujii and Shweta Taneja (which includes a  story by Andrew) Our Shared Storm: A Novel of Five Climate Futures by Andrew (Pre-order now) Lo stato solare by Andrew Infomocracy by Malka Ann Older Gnomon by Nick Harkaway Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson Walkaway by Cory Doctorow The art is by artist and illustrator CosmosKitty (I added the text). Check out their work here:
January 07, 2022
It Could Happen Here: On The New Periphery
Hey everyone, As I'm taking a bit of a break I'm sharing with you the episode I did on the podcast "It Could Happen Here Daily with Robert Evans" about my article for entitled "The periphery has no time for binaries".  Make sure to check out It Could Happen Here :) See you all in January!  To support: Blog:
December 10, 2021
Mangal Media: Solarpunk, Climate Change and the New Thinkable
As I'm taking a wee break, here's an interview I gave on the Mangal Media podcast about my article of the same name.  You can read it here: Mangal Media is a global collective of writers, artists, journalists and scholars from the so-called “periphery” who are concerned about reclaiming their own narratives. Check out their podcast :) I was on there more recently as well to talk about protest chants since the Arab Spring.  See you in January. Patreon: Blog: 
December 03, 2021
Voice Messages From The Balkan Route
As I'm taking a bit of a break, I thought I'd share with you a recording published by the Sara Jeva Collective. Listen to those who became victims of illegal pushbacks in Croatia. The reports deal with flight, racism and policeviolence against migrants and refugees. Links: Related episodes on The Fire These Times: Episode 35: The European Union’s Violence Against Asylum Seekers, with Jack Sapoch, coordinator of No Name Kitchen‘s border violence reporting, itself part of the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN). Episode 49: Moria Camp and the Deadly Cost of Fortress Europe, with Ghias Al Jundi, a Syrian-British human rights activist, about the 2020 fires at the Moria camp in Greece Just look them up wherever you listen to this podcast!
November 26, 2021
93/ Syrian Prison Literature and the Poetics of Human Rights (with Shareah Taleghani)
This is a conversation with Shareah Taleghani, Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies and Arabic at Queens College at the City University of New York and the author of the book "Readings in Syrian Prison Literature: The Poetics of Human Rights" published by Syracuse University Press. Support: Website: TheFireThisTi.Me Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Topics Discussed: Background and context, Syrian prison literature Poetics of human rights, and how Syrian prison literature affected her view of human rights On Tadmor military prison On censorship, arbitrariness and tanfis in Syria Arab critics, literature and human rights Effects of truth Universality of prison literature Syrian prison literature and the 2011 revolution Selective solidarity and global prison abolitionism (US, Iran, Syria) Also Mentioned: Faraj Bayrakdar Human Rights, Inc by Joseph Slaughter Supreme Court Justices Make a Surprising Proposal in Torture Case Hasiba Abdelrahman Mustapha Khalifa Rosa Yassin Hassan Malek Daghestani Ali Abu Dahan Heba Al-Dabbagh Tadmor film by Monica Borgmann & Lokman Slim Memory, violence and fear: Why Lokman Slim’s murder must not be depoliticized - my L'Orient Le Jour piece Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria by Lisa Wedeen Miriam Cooke The Politics of Love: Sexuality, Gender, and Marriage in Syrian Television Drama & Mediating the Uprising: Narratives of Gender and Marriage in Syrian Television Drama by Rebecca Joubin Nazih Abu Nidal Ghassan al-Jaba'i Maher Arrar 'Anticipating' the 2011 Arab Uprisings: Revolutionary Literatures and Political Geographies by Rita Sakr Recommended Books: The Shell by Mustafa Khalifa A Dove in Free Flight by Faraj Bayrakdar Forced Passages by Dylan Rodríguez
November 12, 2021
92/ Big Tech, Gatopardismo and Data Colonialism (With Camila Nobrega and Joana Varon)
This is a conversation with Brazilian researchers Camila Nobrega and Joana Varon about their paper for Global Information Society Watch, "Big tech goes green(washing): Feminist lenses to unveil new tools in the master’s houses." Extended bio below. The research by Nobrega and Varon is part of a report launched by the Association for Progressive Communications. You can find the full report here. Support: Website: TheFireThisTi.Me Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Topics Discussed: Power structures, Big Tech and what kind future we want technosolutionism through feminist lenses Who has the ability to consent? Gatopardismo (Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui): proposing 'changes' while reinforcing existing power structures Monocultures of minds (Vandana Shiva) What are we sustaining and what are we developing when we talk of 'sustainable development'? What is 'green data'? The 'good life' through euro-centrism Discussion about Brazil  Extractivism and data colonialism Resources mentioned: Please visit Recommended Books/Other A extinção das abelhas by Natalia Borges Polesso (Joana) Un Mundo Ch'ixi es posible by Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui (Camila) Amanda Piña (choreographer) Camila Nobrega is a Brazilian journalist working on social-environmental conflicts for more than ten years, fostering Latin American feminist lenses and social-environmental justice. She has worked for media vehicles in Brazil and has contributed to international media, like The Guardian, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Mongabay. Currently based in Berlin, she is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science department at the Free University of Berlin. To connect journalism, academic research, and artistic languages, she develops the project Beyond the Green (, focusing on megaprojects that affect our lives, bodies, and territories. It aims to strengthen narratives that connect the right to communication and land rights. Member of Intervozes collective that struggles for media democratization in Brazil. medium@nobregacamila Joana Varon is Brazilian, with Colombian ancestry and a nomad heart. She is a feminist researcher and activist focused on bringing decolonial Latin American perspectives in the search of feminist techno-political frameworks for shaping the development, deployment and usages of technologies. As it is a collective search, she is the Founder Directress and Creative Chaos Catalyst at Coding Rights, a women-run organization working to expose and redress the power imbalances built into technology and its application, particularly those that reinforce gender and North/South inequalities. Former Mozilla Media Fellow, Joana is currently a Technology and Human Rights Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy from Harvard Kennedy School. She is also affiliated to the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
October 29, 2021
91/ Satisfying Human Needs at Low Energy Use (With Jefim Vogel & Julia Steinberger)
This is a conversation with Jefim Vogel of the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, and Julia Steinberger of the Institute of Geography and Sustainability at the University of Lausanne, about a paper they worked on entitled "socio-economic conditions for satisfying human needs at low energy use: An international analysis of social provisioning." Julia is also an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report, contributing to the report's discussion of climate change mitigation pathways. Support: Website: TheFireThisTi.Me Twitter + Instagram @ firethesetimes Topics Discussed How the major environmental and social crises of our time are interlinked, especially energy use Meeting basic needs at low energy use Leapfrogging fairly Disparities between global North and global South (Some of) the limits of economic growth Citizens' assemblies and other examples of ways forward Living well within limits Recommended Books: Jefim's: Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World by Jason Hickel Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power by Noam Chomsky Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown Julia's: Overheated: How Capitalism Broke the Planet--And How We Fight Back by Kate Aronoff The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What's Possible in the Age of Warming by Eric Holthaus We Make Our Own History: Marxism and Social Movements in the Twilight of Neoliberalism by Laurence Cox & Alf Gunvald Nilsen
October 15, 2021
90/ The Ecological Paradox of Digital Economies (with Paz Peña)
This is a conversation with Paz Peña, a Chile-based independent consultant and activist, who recently published a paper entitled “Bigger, more, better, faster: The ecological paradox of digital economies” for Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch). The research by Paz Peña is part of a report launched by the Association for Progressive Communications. You can find the full report here.  Topics Discussed: Digital economies and environmental sustainability The ecological paradox of dematerialisation ‘Smart cities’ and the Internet of Things (IoT) The problem with techno-solutionism Tech in the framework of degrowth and postgrowth Artificial Intelligence is a feminist issue Tech isn’t neutral Recommended Books: Posthuman Knowledge by Rosi Braidotti Cómo pensar juntos by Isabelle Strengers After Geoengineering: Climate Tragedy, Repair, and Restoration by Holly Jean Buck I mentioned my article for Shado Mag on the Emotional Case for Postgrowth If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options. You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. If you can’t donate anything, you can still support this project by sharing with your friends and leaving a review wherever you get your podcasts! Music by Tarabeat.
October 01, 2021
89/ Tiananmen, Denialism and History (With Christopher Wong)
This is a conversation with Christopher Wong, a writer and researcher with Cool Zone Media whose essay "When communists crushed the international workers’ movement" for Lausan was the subject of this conversation. Get early access + more perks on Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: The Tiananmen massacre in its historical context The meaning of Tiananmen How we remember Tiananmen and what we erase The before and the after The cost of denialism Tiananmen/Syria comparisons Occupying the squares vs occupying the factories On class identities How could it have been different? Aesthetics and politics Burying the past On tankies Recommended Books: Rhythms of the Pachakuti: Indigenous Uprising and State Power in Bolivia by Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil by Timothy Mitchell Hatta Shūzō and Pure Anarchism in Interwar Japan by John Crump + I recommended Anarchist Modernity: Cooperatism and Japanese-Russian Intellectual Relations in Modern Japan by Sho Konishi
September 24, 2021
88/ A History of Nothing (With Susan A. Crane)
This is a conversation with Susan A. Crane, author of the book “Nothing Happened: A History“ Get early access + more perks on Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: How do people think of the past? What does Nothing even mean? Four expressions of historical consciousness: 1- Nothing Happened 2- Nothing is the Way it Was 3- Nothing has Changed 4- Nothing is Left How far away does the past have to be before being considered the past? What the past says about the present The examples of Germany, Chile, the USA, Spain and Lebanon When histories become ruin On biographies and ‘great men’ On ‘objectivity’ and ‘neutrality’ in history Resources mentioned: Why Man Creates by Saul Bass The Death of Luigi Trastulli: Memory and the Event. Form and Meaning in Oral History by Alessandro Portelli Nostalgia for the light by Patricio Guzmán History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige by Rea Tajiri The mnemonic imagination by Emily Keightley and Michael Pickering Why Did Ozu Cut To A Vase? by Nerdwriter Recommended Books In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova, translated by Sasha Dugdale The Resonance of Unseen Things: Poetics, Power, Captivity, and UFOs in the American Uncanny by Susan Lepselter Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman A History of Silence: From the Renaissance to the Present Day by Alain Corbin
September 17, 2021
87/ Counter-Cartographies: Mapping Back our World (With Boris Michel and Paul Schweizer)
This is a conversation with Boris Michel and Paul Schweizer who helped create the ‘This Is Not an Atlas‘ book for Kollectiv Orangotango, which is available as a free PDF. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: What is ‘This is Not an Atlas’? What traditional cartographies erase The relationship between maps and power When do maps work? Examples of Alarm Phone and Indigenous mapping How to become an occasional cartographer Discussion of: Is This Is Not an Atlas an Atlas? On the Pitfalls of Editing a Global Collection of Counter-Cartographies How can cartography help us understand our relationship to nature? What is hydrocartography? Recommended books: Manual of collective mapping by iconoclasistas Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement & Resistance by Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Weaponizing Maps: Indigenous Peoples and Counterinsurgency in the Americas by Joe Bryan and Denis Wood Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability by Eyal Weizman The Natures of Maps: Cartographic Constructions of the Natural World by Denis Wood and John Fels
September 10, 2021
86/ Environmentalism, ‘Post-Truth’ and Platform Capitalism (With Bram Büscher)
This is a conversation with Bram Büscher around the topics discussed in his book ‘The Truth about Nature: Environmentalism, in the Era of Post-Truth Politics and Platform Capitalism‘ Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: Meaning of ‘post-truth’ and platform capitalism Environmentalism, political action and social media Mediating knowledge and politics through new media platforms “Doom and gloom” versus “being optimistic” Temporality on social media and the urge of the ‘now’ New media platforms are not neutral platforms Alienation, politics and new media Can it be good? The role of new media in the conservation and environmental movements South Africa’s Kruger National Park, new media and racial politics The difference between understanding and knowledge, and how new media plays into that Recommended Books: Platform Capitalism by Nick Srnicek Darwin’s Hunch by Christa Kuljian If you can’t donate anything, you can still support this project by sharing with your friends and leaving a review wherever you get your podcasts!
September 03, 2021
I read the names of the Beirut port explosion victims
This is a special episode in which I just read the names of those who died due to the Beirut port explosion on August 4th 2020. Resources: #BeirutExplosion 
August 05, 2021
August 4th 2020: "It Sounded Like The World Itself Was Breaking Open" (With Lina Mounzer)
This is a special episode, initially recorded and released on August 7th 2020 with Lina Mounzer.  I'm re-releasing it as it was.  Twitter thread with reflections on this day  #BeirutExplosion #BeirutBlast
August 04, 2021
85/ The Legacy of the Great Lebanon Famine (with Lina Mounzer and Timour Azhari)
This is a conversation with Lina Mounzer and Timour Azhari, repeat guests on the podcast, about the legacy of the Great Famine of Mount Lebanon (1915–1918) and its legacy today. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed + Resources: What was the Great Famine? Causes and Context (Allies blockading from the sea, Ottomans barring grains, role of local elites like Michel Sursock) Hunger and Hallucination: Tales from the Great Famine (Lina's talk) An Abandoned Village Bears Witness to Lebanon’s Famines – Old and New (Timour's article) Parallels to today A Hungry Population Stops Thinking About Resistance: Class, Famine, and Lebanon's World War I Legacy Is there an amnesia problem in Lebanon? Yes and No The sense that history is repeating itself Working as a way of coping Thinking of leaving and of the established migration routes (belonging, identity, legitimacy etc) The role of the diaspora beyond bringing aid Across the Rickety Bridge by Farrah Berrou Akram Khater's Inventing Home: Emigration, Gender and the Making of a Lebanese Middle Class, 1861-1921 The gendered component of the famine The Megaphone short doc  Maybe let's eat the rich Coexistence as being between rioters and peaceful protesters What counts as violence vs non-violence What we've inherited from the Lebanese wars (1975-1990) Recommended Books Timour: On the Road by Jack Kerouack Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami Citizen Hariri by Hannes Bauman Lina: Beirut Nightmares by Ghada Samman A Month in Siena & The Return by Hicham Matar Yes, I am a destroyer by Mira Mattar
July 31, 2021
84/ Space, Fiction and Growing Up in ‘Postwar’ Lebanon (with Naji Bakhti)
This is a conversation with Naji Bakhti, author of the novel Between Beirut and the Moon (2020), published by Influx Press. He is also Project Manager at SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom at the Samir Kassir Foundation. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: Growing up in a ‘postwar’ context, Lebanon Writing in English and the distance afforded to us when doing so Thinking about Arabic and creativity Genesis of Between Beirut and the Moon Writing the local, writing the global The Arab world and the impossibility of Space exploration Billionaires are ruining space in addition to planet Earth Joking about sectarianism in Lebanon (and also Balkans, Iraq etc) West Beirut (1998 film) and its impact, watching it (in Joey’s case) the day Hariri was assassinated in 2005 Writing about Beirut as a character How do we think about fiction when reality is so overwhelming? Inheriting the silences from one’s parents (including postmemory) Friendships versus sectarian politics Recommended Books Guapa by Saleem Haddad De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage Persepolis by Marjie Satrapi Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle Music by Tarabeat.
July 24, 2021
83/ Understanding Hamas: Anti-Authoritarian Perspectives (with Tareq Baconi)
This is a conversation with Tareq Baconi, author of the book "Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance" published in 2018. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. List of topics discussed: How Hamas is often talked about Contextualising Hamas in recent and ongoing uprisings Hamas and popular protests The Great Return March Hamas and Israel Western hypocrisy on Palestinian democracy, with a focus on the EU and the US Hamas-Fatah relations The horrific costs of the Israeli blockade of Gaza How the Israeli state views Hamas Hamas breaking out of its 'cage' Does it matter who wins at the Israeli elections? The PA losing legitimacy Hamas' authoritarianism in Gaza Hamas as a democratic movement Difference between party and government in Gaza Moving beyond the framework of partition and into colonial and apartheid frameworks Recommended Books: Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector by Sara Roy Hamas: A Beginner's Guide by Khaled Hroub Decolonizing Palestine: Hamas between the Anticolonial and the Postcolonial by Somdeep Sen
July 17, 2021
82/ The Populist Hype, ‘the People’ and the Far Right (With Aurelien Mondon)
This is a conversation with Aurelien Mondon, he’s a senior lecturer in politics, languages and international studies at the University of  Bath and co-author of the 2020 book “Reactionary Democracy: How racism and the populist far right became mainstream” alongside Aaron Winter. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed How has the far right been mainstreamed? Focus on US, UK and France Liberal racism versus illiberal racism The far right and why calling them ‘populism’ is problematic What is ‘populist hype’ and how can the media be complicit? How the ‘working class’ become racialized into the ‘white working class’ The role of elites in ‘reactionary democracy’ How our knowledge of the world is constructed How the right has asphyxiated the media landscape On echo chambers The generational divide The question of race and ‘populism’ ‘Populism’ and elections The case of France Books Recommended Hatred of Democracy by Jacques Rancière Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Feminism, Interrupted by Lola Olufemi Music by Tarabeat.
July 10, 2021
81/ Solarpunk and Storytelling the Present and Future (With Phoebe Wagner)
This is a conversation with Phoebe Wagner, co-editor of the 2017 book Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation alongside Bronte Christopher Wieland. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: What is Solarpunk? What is wrong with modern storytelling about the future? Playing with words (example of Permablitzing) Patriarchal tropes (‘men with guns’) and moving beyond them Is knowledge power? Working on the language we use Is there a crisis of the imagination? Going from fiction to non-fiction and action Community-building What’s punk about solarpunk Works mentioned: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler Parable of the Talent by Octavia Butler Moon of the Crusted Snow: A Novel by Waubgeshig Rice Robin Wall Kimmerer on the Language of Animacy Recommended Books: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer Cover Art by Likhain for the Sunvault book Music by Tarabeat.
July 03, 2021
80/ Syria, State Ideology and Climate Politics (With Marwa Daoudy)
This is a conversation with professor Marwa Daoudy, associate professor at Georgetown University and the author of the recently published book The Origins of the Syrian Conflict: Climate Change and Human Security. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: Climate change did not cause the Syrian revolution, despite this  narrative continuing to dominate in many circles, and why this  deterministic narrative strips away the agency of Syrian revolutionaries The  ‘securitization’ of language, how refugees and migrants going to global  north countries are treated through militarized language, and how  calling them ‘climate migrants’ can be problematic How did the pre-2011 drought affect the uprising, if at all? Bashar Al-Assad urban/rural divide and conquer strategy Assad’s neoliberal reforms and their impacts on water and food politics The role of ideology (baathism, neoliberalism etc) in Syria The  issue of ‘state security’ rhetoric and how a  Human-Environmental-Climate Security (HECS) framework can help  understand reality better The relationship between the World Bank and the Syrian regime Neo-Malthusian politics and its presence in international politics Europe’s extractivist economies and the complicity in scapegoating ‘climate migrants’ The idea of ‘climate security’ and why it’s problematic Book Recommendations: Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse Martin Eden by Jack London The Crossing by Samar Yazbeck The Impossible Revolution by Yassin Haj-Saleh The Shell by Mustafa Khalifa + Samira’s Letters on Al Jumhuriya Music by Tarabeat.
June 27, 2021
79/ Erasures, Borders and the Afterlife of the Armenian Genocide (with Sophia Armen)
This is a conversation with Sophia Armen, an Armenian-American writer, scholar and organizer, about the legacy of the Armenian Genocide today. We spoke about race in the Ottoman Empire and then in the Turkish republic, how the genocide changed Armenian cosmology, the cruel absurdity of borders and various other topics. We also got into Palestine as well as our various positionalities. Sophia shared a lot about her own family's story in what is now Turkey. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: The legacy of the Armenian genocide and Sophia's personal story Pan-Turkish nationalism and its denial of the Armenian heritage of the modern Turkish state How the Armenian genocide changed the entire Armenian cosmology, including the sea The cruel absurdity of borders Armenians in Turkey today The Palestinian cause today and Turkey's role The Turkish government's lobbying in the US Our specific positionalities How simply reversing the clash of civilizations thesis is also racist Racialization, 'whiteness', and Armenian-Americans in history and today Music by Tarabeat. Book Recommendations: This Bridge Called My Back, Fourth Edition: Writings by Radical Women of Color edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde Food for Our Grandmothers: Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists by Joanna Kadi Armenian Women in a Changing World: Papers Presented at the First International Conference of the Armenian International Women's Association, edited by Barbara J. Merguerian and Doris D. Jafferian The Right to Struggle: Selected Writings of Monte Melkonian on the Armenian National Question by Monte Melkonian edited by Markar Melkonian Film Recommendation: Ararat directed by Atom Egoyan
June 20, 2021
78/ Pedagogies of Liberation, Gender and the Syrian Revolution (with Banah Ghadbian)
This is a conversation with Banah Ghadbian. She’s a Syrian activist  whose dissertation “Ululating from the Underground: Syrian Women’s  Protests, Performances, and Pedagogies under Siege” was the subject of our conversation. As usual, we ended up talking about a lot of other things as well. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: Banah’s story growing up in a Syrian revolutionary family and being targeted by the regime as a result The video that Banah released on YouTube in 2011, which the Syrian regime played on state tv Her dissertation: Ululating from the Underground: Syrian Women’s Protests, Performances and Pedagogies under Siege (video summary) “How  do Syrian women and youth heal from violence? How can our communities  be embodied when displaced from our lands and spirits?” What is often missing from a lot of discourse regarding Syria? The chronicles of Enab Baladi + An idea called Daraya How does Banah think about the Syrian story and how it’s often misrepresented online? What the Syrian revolution already achieved Multiplicities and the entrenched ‘manliness’ of war analyses (reference to episode with Aida Hozic) Undoing the diaspora/local binary Pedagogies of liberation vs refugee/NGO industrial complex Being friends with Hala Barakat, who was murdered in September of 2017 alongside her mother Orouba Scarcity idea coming from an inherently capitalist logic The Syrian revolution and anti-blackness; intersectionality The misleading debates around ‘integration’, Alan Kurdi Talking about sectarianism Being in the dominant group at home, and in the minority in the diaspora Recommended Books Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline Paperback – November 18, 2014 by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen by Nawara Mahfoud Zaatardiva by Suheir Hammad Homegirls and Handgrenades by Sonia Sanchez Music by Tarabeat.
June 12, 2021
77/ From Hong Kong to Lebanon, Basebuilding Against Authoritarianism (with Promise Li)
This is a conversation with Promise Li. He’s a US-based member of the Lausan collective and the Democratic  Socialists of America doing solidarity work with Hong Kong and China’s  dissident movements. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: Growing up in Hong Kong in the shadow of the Tiananmen Square massacre and after the UK-China handover What is Lausan? The difficulties of navigating online discourses on Hong Kong (and Lebanon, Syria etc) Rooting ourselves in democracy Translating Self-Determination Hong  Kong’s water revolution (context and history) and how the Chinese  Communist Party crushed it, at least for now (the national security law,  ongoing crackdown etc) The globalization of the war on terror rhetoric and how ‘anti-imperialist’ governments and parties also use it. How governments and politicians learn from one another (example of Gebran Bassil in Lebanon; Saudi and Palestinian ambassadors to China; Henri Kissinger praising the CCP and vice versa, Chinese cops praising American cops; Hezbollah in Syria) What’s so different about the CCP’s oppression compared to other governments’ authoritarianism, and how western leftists don’t seem to quite grasp that (example of China and Syria) How tankies and others try and think like Xi Jinping or Bashar Al-Assad (and always fail) The multiplicity of places Reacting to the camps in Xinjiang Having a specific anger towards people who were oppressed in the past and who now oppress others (Israel, China) Identifying as Hong Konger Chinese, the complicated identities of being both Jewish  and Arab, the example of Hindutva and Indian Muslims Being anti-nationalist and how that intersect in the global south The importance of including migrant domestic workers in our struggles Linking up Hong Kong with Black Lives Matters Learning from Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement What BLM could look like in Lebanon Fighting anti-Asian violence cannot include apologism for the Chinese state Recommended Books: China: The Revolution is Dead, Long Live the Revolution by The 70’s Collective Punching out and other writings by Martin Glaberman, edited by Staughton Lynd Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement edited by Ejeris Dixon & Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
June 06, 2021
76/ Confronting Antisemitism on the Left: Anti-Authoritarian Perspectives (with Daniel Randall)
This is a conversation with Daniel Randall.  He’s a London-based railway worker and workplace representative for the  National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers and a member of  the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. We spoke about antisemitism on the Left as Daniel has an upcoming book on this very topic. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: What is left antisemitism? The ‘socialism of fools’ The difference between antisemitism and other forms of hatred The impact of Moishe Postone in our understanding of this topic Antisemitism as conspiracy theory in and of itself How it impacts discourse on Israel-Palestine The specific legacy of Stalinism on anti-Zionism Anti-Zionism without Anti-Semitism ‘Anti-Zionist Zionism’ Isaac Deutscher’s lifeboat metaphor for Israel in the 1940s Understanding how one can be both a refugee and a settler What’s wrong with saying ‘the Zionist entity’ Edward Said’s view on this The example of Hindutva The example of Lebanon The pseudo-emancipatory character of antisemitism Intersection between anti-semitism and islamophobia (‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory) How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism (reference to the essay by Erik Ward) What happened in the UK Labor Party Navigating sensitive discourses surrounding Israel-Palestine On anti-nationalism Recommended Books That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Antisemitic: Antiracist Analysis of Left Antisemitism Paperback by Steve Cohen Confronting Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century edited by Shane Burley Confronting antisemitism on the Left: arguments for socialists by Daniel Randall (forthcoming) Music by Tarabeat.
May 30, 2021
75/ The Precariatized Mind and the Case for a Basic Income for All (with Guy Standing)
This is a conversation with Guy Standing, a Professorial Research  Associate at SOAS University of London and a founding member and  honorary co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), a  non-governmental organisation that promotes a basic income for all. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: What is Universal Basic Income (UBI)/ Basic Income Why it’s so important that basic income be unconditional Towards a new class system: Precariat, Salariat, Proficients, Oligarchs, Plutocracy, Working Class, Lumpen Underclass etc What is the precariatized mind? Types  of Precariats: Atavists who look to the past/Nostalgics: The migrants,  the roamers, the refugees, the minorities/Progressives Towards a new politics of time How the global COVID-19 pandemic makes the case for a basic income Recommended Books The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time by Karl Polanyi The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All by Peter Linebaugh Music by Tarabeat.
May 23, 2021
Special Episode: Palestine and Global Solidarity
This is a special episode with Sumaya Awad and Shireen Akram-Boshar. Sumaya's the co-editor of the book "Palestine: A Socialist Introduction" which Shireen contributed to. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: Our relationship to Palestine What triggered the recent brutalities and broader context Connecting protests in Israel-Palestine with protests in the US (Black Lives Matter especially) and globally (Arab Spring, Syrian revolution etc) Israel's ethnic cleansing projects The youth-led resistance Shifting narratives on Zionism and Israel in the USA Reviving BDS What progressives need to be paying attention to Books Recommended: Shireen: Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement Paperback by Angela Davis The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire by Deepa Kumar A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution by Samar Yazbeck Sumaya: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy Smiley's People by John le Carré Movies: Qafr Kassem by Borhan Alaouié The Feeling of Being Watched by Assia Boundaoui
May 21, 2021
Intervention: Majed Abusalama #GazaUnderAttack
As he was talking to me Majed Abusalama's family was being threatened with airstrikes by the Israeli state. Video interview available on YouTube: Follow: We Are Not Numbers
May 19, 2021
[Repost]: Wretched of the Earth: Thoughts on Syria, Palestine and Discourse
In light of what's been happening in Palestine I am re-releasing my conversation with Mohammed Sulaiman from last year.  Mohammed is a Palestinian writer and researcher who grew up in Gaza and currently works at the University of South Australia. The core of our conversation was Mohammed’s two essays for Hummus For Thought: Wretched of the Earth: Thoughts on Syria, Palestine and Discourse (2016) Israel and ‘The Right to Maim’ (2017) Topics discussed: growing up in Gaza and surviving the Israeli wars  and blockade; his and his partner’s difficult journey to Australia,  himself via Israel and herself via Egypt; the Western Left’s failures on  Syria and Bosnia as well as its relationship to Palestine; the  dehumanisation of Palestinians and Syrians; Israel’s politics of  domination; Israel’s ‘right to maim’ as inherent to colonial logic  through Jasbir Puar’s work; and Palestinians being asked to show  gratitude by self-appointed ‘saviors’. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too.
May 18, 2021
Special Episode: A Conversation on Israel-Palestine, (Anti)Zionism and International Solidarity
A conversation with my good friend Maya Schkolne on (anti)Zionism and international solidarity. Also: having multiple identities, Jewish supremacists in Israel, erasing the Nakba, apartheid (South Africa/Israel), and more. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. List of resources: Jehad Abusalim's thread Gaza march leader to conscientious objectors: ‘Turn your words into weapons’ Reclaiming The PLO, Re-Engaging Youth The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Grammar of Trauma and History The Kahanist revenge song of a few days ago Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History of Jewish Radicalism Returning to Haifa by Ghassan Kanafani Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi Twitter list of Palestinian writers, activists etc Sources for Updates, Resources, Info on Israel and Palestine Palestine will not be liberated in isolation: a look back at the 2011 uprisings
May 16, 2021
74/ The Political Economy of Car Dependence: Understanding Systems of Provision (with Giulio Mattioli & Julia Steinberger)
This is a conversation with Giulio Mattioli and Julia Steinberger about their article ‘the political economy of car dependence: A systems of provision approach‘ published in the ‘Energy Research & Social Science‘ journal. We also discussed the topics below. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: The five key elements of what we’re calling the ‘car-dependent  transport system’: i) the automotive industry; ii) the provision of car  infrastructure; iii) the political economy of urban sprawl; iv) the  provision of public transport; v) cultures of car consumption The problem with focusing too much on consumption and the importance of covering the production side How where we live can influence our politics, and how suburban car-oriented lifestyles are actually subsidized by the state The importance of network planning Looking for decoupling and finding degrowth instead The problem with ‘sustainable’ growth How the car industry shows the necessity of degrowth Why more equitable societies are easier to decarbonize The problem with the argument that personal choices do not matter Dealing with climate anxiety through activism, work, research, learning How come we knew so much and did so little? Working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) What is ecologial economics? Recommended Books Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature by  Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save The World by Jason Hickel Degrowth / Postwachstum zur Einführung by Matthias Schmelzer and Andrea Vetter Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth Music by Tarabeat. Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash
May 09, 2021
73/ 1958: Re-imagining a Revolutionary Year in Revolutionary Times (with Jeffrey Karam)
This is a conversation with Jeffrey Karam. He’s Assistant Professor  of Political Science at the Lebanese American University and an  associate at Harvard’s Middle East Initiative. He’s also the editor of the book “The Middle East in 1958: Reimagining a Revolutionary Year“, the topic of our conversation. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed: What was so special about 1958? Its legacy in the Middle East and the world The  formation of the short-lived United Arab Republic (between Egypt and  Syria), the Iraq revolution, the attempted coup in Jordan, the slide  towards more authoritarianism in Iran, the clash between the princes in  Saudi Arabia, the collapse of the fourth republic in France etc The internationalization of the region and the role of the great powers (US, UK, France, USSR) History as non-linear, connecting different threads Authoritarianism in the region and the role of the big powers Asking ‘what ifs’ in thinking about history 1957 in Lebanon (the rigged elections with US support) and the 1958 events A  look into the debates on decolonization, revolutionary nationalism,  internationalism, post-colonialism, imperialism, anti-imperialism and  state formation Lessons from 1958 for the present day, the example of Iraq How hope is linked to the understanding of time Upcoming book: The Lebanon Uprising of 2019: Voices from the Revolution, co-edited with Rima Majed Learning about revolutions in revolutionary times Book recommendations Coups and Revolutions: Mass Mobilization, the Egyptian Military, and the United States from Mubarak to Sisi by Amy Austin Holmes Oilcraft: The Myths of Scarcity and Security That Haunt U.S. Energy Policy by Robert Vitalis The Politics of Art Dissent and Cultural Diplomacy in Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan by Hanan Toukan The Paranoid Style in American Diplomacy Oil and Arab Nationalism in Iraq by Brandon Wolfe-Hunnicutt Winning Lebanon: Youth Politics, Populism, and the Production of Sectarian Violence, 1920–1958 by Dylan Baum Banking on the State The Financial Foundations of Lebanon by Hicham Safieddine Resources mentioned/that are relevant 07. Denying Genocide, from Halabja to Ghouta with Sabrina Azad 14. Revolution, disenchantment and the Lebanese New Left with Fadi Bardawil
May 02, 2021
72/ The Inherent Toxicity of France’s ‘Islamo-Leftism’ Obsession (with Rim-Sarah Alouane)
This is a conversation with Rim-Sarah Alouane. She’s a French legal academic, commentator, and PhD candidate in law researching religious  freedom, human rights, and civil liberties in France, Europe & North America. We spoke about a recent piece she wrote entitled ‘A Spectre in France’s Public Debate: Islamo-Leftism‘ for Reset Dialogues. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics Discussed What the fuck is ‘Islamo-leftism’ How fringe conspiracy theories are being mainstreamed in France The role of anti-American sentiments in propagating these phenomena Understanding the specificity of French laicité/secularism The youth being more comfortable with multi-culturalism, which is provoking a conservative backlash The slippery slope of what’s being normalized (including security laws) The links between antisemitism and islamophobia, in terms of political rhetoric especially The legacy of colonial thinking The personal cost of rising authoritarianism in France Recommended Books Islam, Secularism, and Liberal Democracy: Toward a Democratic Theory for Muslim Societies by Nader Hashemi Illégitimes by Nesrine Slaoui Les Incasables by Rachid Zerrouki Episodes mentioned: 67/ Cultural Dementia: How the West Lost Its History and Risks Losing Everything Else (with David Andress) 69/ The Entrenched “Manliness” of Ethnic Power-sharing Peace Agreements (with Aida A. Hozić) Music by Tarabeat.
April 25, 2021
71/ Bearing Witness to What is Lost: Lebanon’s ‘Postwar’ Hauntings (with Ely Dagher)
This is a conversation with Lebanese director Ely Dagher. He is the director of the Palme D’Or-winning Waves ’98, one of my favorite short films. He also has an upcoming feature  film called The Sea Ahead. Get early access + more perks at Blog: You can follow on Twitter or Instagram @ firethesetimes too. Topics discussed: Waves ’98 The image of the city The 2015 ‘You Stink’ Lebanon uprising: context/background The  feeling of history repeating itself: Waves ’98 features the 1998 waste  crisis which led to the 2015 waste crisis (which led to the uprising) Inter-generational anxiety: ‘I don’t want to end up like them’ On resilience and why it’s a failed notion The ‘ghostly figure’ in literature and movies, including in Lebanon Haunting from the future, the feel of being stuck (permanent liminality) The post-August 2020 port of Beirut moment Interesting comparisons between Lebanon and Hong Kong, and their relationship with the past and future How do we live day to day while also being in a state of anxiety? (his upcoming film) How Beirut is portrayed in Waves ’98 and how Beirut has changed since the 90s The relationship to the city and the sea in Beirut Beirut as a ghost town Hauntings in Waves ’98 and in real life; cyclical hauntings Our peculiar relationship with Television Our complicated relationship with the sea growing up in post-1990s Lebanon The politics of decay (my essay on the topic) war/post-war vs war/not-war The anticipation of violence ‘wartime’ Is there a way out of that cyclical haunting? Recommended Books & Movies The Ag