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(en) Britain, freedom news: Interview: Edinburgh Anarchist Feminist Bookfair
Wed, 25 Jul 2018 10:43:40 +0300
This Saturday, the first ever Edinburgh Anarchist Feminist Bookfair is taking place at the
Augustine United Church. Freedom are unable to have a stall there this year, but we are
still really excited about it happening. We sent over some questions for the collective
who have organised what is shaping up to be a great day of stalls, rad politics, raffles
and afterparties. Check out their twitter and facebook for more information and if you're
in the area try and get down! ---- How did the bookfair come about? Why did you think it
was important to organise an anarchist feminist bookfair in Edinburgh? ---- The idea for
an anarchist bookfair in Edinburgh has been simmering for years, but when the Glasgow
Radical Independent Bookfair wrapped up in 2016, and our local radical bookshop, Word
Power, sold its premises to a new owner the same year, it felt like a space had opened up
and it felt important to fill it. We decided to make it an anarchist feminist bookfair
mostly because the point at which we decided to actually finally do it was when we were at
a feminist discussion group - the thought process was basically, like, why the hell not?
All anarchism should be feminist.
How have you found the process of organising the bookfair?
It's pretty time-intensive, of course, but overall it's gone pretty smoothly. We've done
most of our talking online on a platform called Slack, with regular in-person meetings as
well. It took us ages to get ourselves together enough to start doing the actual
organising, because what we had was a few people with lots of knowledge and experience but
very little time or energy, and a few people with time and energy but little experience or
little confidence - with those powers combined, we're great! It just took a while to
realise that we could get together and actually make it work.
What tips would you give to a collective looking to organise a rad bookfair in their city?
START EARLY. We tried to give ourselves a deadline to send out invitations to potential
speakers, workshoppers and stallholders 6 months in advance. We didn't always manage to
stick to it, but if we hadn't had that as a goal, we almost certainly wouldn't have filled
our space or schedule. Finding a good venue takes time - we struggled to find somewhere
big enough, accessible and affordable, that wasn't already in use for the Edinburgh Fringe.
Also, be prepared to pay for publicity! We used promoted posts on social media, and
printed our first run of flyers as soon as we had our date and venue confirmed. (Pro tip:
Give your fliers to AK Press as early as possible, and they'll send them out with
geographically relevant mail orders!) Having physical objects to hand to people with the
info, and to stick out in friendly cafes &c. is invaluable. We also paid a local company a
small fee to put up 300 posters for us around the city. It's great if you're able to do
poster runs with volunteers, but if you're short on volunteer labour, you still do need to
get those posters up.
We used this post as a template for organising, and it's a pretty great one: Advice on how
to organise an Anarchist Bookfair.
If you could recommend a couple of books or texts that are helpful introductions to
anarchist feminism, what would they be?
Just last month, Edinburgh Anarchist Federation launched a new reading group, and the
first text was Selma James and Mariarosa Dalla Costa's The Power of Women and the
Subversion of the Community. It's not anarchist per se, and it's quite old now, but if
you're new to materialist feminism generally, there's a lot in quite a short pair of
essays which have been hugely influential on modern social reproduction theory.
Silvia Federici's Revolution at Point Zero is also a great collection of very readable
essays, which comes from a similar autonomist feminist tradition as James and Dalla Costa.
Quiet Rumours, from AK Press, covers a lot of the classic texts from Voltairine de Cleyre
and Emma Goldman, as well as more modern pieces, and is explicitly anarchist feminist.
On the subject of classic anarchist feminists, Carolyn Ashbaugh's biography Lucy Parsons:
An American Revolutionary is a fantastic account of the life of the woman the Chicago
police called "more dangerous than a thousand rioters".
We'd recommend LIES journal and Cindy Milstein's blog archive on Libcom.org. We'd also
recommend fiction such as Ursula K Le Guin and Marge Piercy, as well as just getting
involved with local groups and events and meeting other anarchists.
What are some of the talks/workshops you're most excited about?
We couldn't possibly choose favourites! We love all our contributors.
We've been announcing each of the talks and workshops on our facebook page over the last
couple of weeks and it's fair to say there are a few talks which are gathering a lot of
interest: sex work rights; gender; decolonising history and understanding autism from an
autistic perspective. We're also really excited that we have a comrade from the Workers'
Solidarity Movement coming over to talk about the fantastic success of the Repeal the 8th
campaign. It'll be great to hear about a big, mass campaign - which anarchists were highly
involved with - that won!
It seems to have been a while since Scottish anarchism has had a really big gathering, are
you pleased with the uptake/support shown since you started putting the bookfair together?
We've had way more attention and support than we could possibly have hoped, and it's been
incredibly heartening! We'd intended to start small and try to grow the event over a
number of years, but it looks like we've tapped into something that was wanted, so we're
Edinburgh Anarchist Feminist Bookfair is taking place this Saturday 21st of July at the
Augustine United Church.
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