Seatbelts in Palestine: Blurring the boundaries between culture and resistance

[Written by Jack Jeffrey] [Image Credit: flickr//Martin Abegglen] If you take a look at the World Health Organization’s road safety statistics for Gaza and the West Bank, you will see two blank boxes. The first is ‘% of road traffic accidents related to alcohol consumption’; for obvious reasons, the absence of data here is not surprising. The second empty box is ‘% of passengers who wore a seat belt’, which is strange for numerous reasons. Firstly, wearing a seat belt is obliged by the law in both Gaza and the West Bank, with an apparent police enforcement rate of 7 out of 10. Consequently, one would think that they would at least have a rough estimation of how many passengers were breaking the law. Secondly, unlike the discovery of a drunk-driving epidemic, a high number of strapless passengers would not come as a major shock to the rest of the world, nor would it undermine the piety of a predominantly Muslim society.

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State of the Union

[Written by Katharina Eisenhardt] [Image by Julia Rosner] GUM relaunches its Brexit series with Katharina Eisenhardt's 'State of the Union'. With a focus on broader EU issues, it will seek to highlight the changing dynamics to scientific funding, comparing coverage of EU priorities in the media, and exploring the impact on personal identity. 

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Is Instagram Killing Us?

[Written by Stephanie Reynolds and Anastasija Svarevska] [Image Credit: Instagram//Jonathan Lo (@happymundane)] Content Warning: This article includes discussion of body dismorphia and other mental health issues. I scroll aimlessly through Instagram, looking for nothing in particular. I see people who are much better looking than me, cooking something much more delicious than my last meal while in a beautiful location that is—you guessed it—much more picturesque than where I am. I am both enthralled and loath to continue looking. I study her skin and her hair. They’re so much better than mine. She has a fitness routine that is so disciplined and difficult yet she does it with such ease and energy. I feel guilty, as I can’t be bothered to do anything. She has the best diet plan and the best ingredients. She knows exactly where to purchase hemp seeds and her cupboards are never short of the essential vegan morsels. She has an expensive blender that she uses every day to show us how to make the most delicious vegan smoothies. She has a gorgeous boyfriend who poses with her in pictures. He is loyal and caring and they are the best couple in the world and they never disagree or have any arguments.

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Re-evaluating Extinction – Why Declining Birth Rates Cause Alarm

[Written by Kaisa Saarinen] [Image and animation by Rafe Uddin] The global birth rate has decreased starkly over the past few decades. In the early 1950s, there were 36.8 births per 1000 people; today the figure stands at 18.5, and is expected to continue falling. The spatial distribution of these births is also not equal; children are significantly more likely to be born in Sub-Saharan Africa than in East Asia. These statistics have yielded a variety of regional discourses. In countries with declining birth rates, the numbers are often discussed in concerned and alarmist tones. In a world where the ‘population explosion’ is recognised as one of the most difficult problems of our time, contributing to the global environmental crisis, there is a need to critically examine why the fact that fewer children are born is presented as a serious problem.

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Hostile Environment Policy – British Till When?

[Written by Hester Lee] [Image Credit: Creative Commons//Flickr.com//Chris Fleming] Birthright citizenship, while now almost exclusively applicable to countries in the Americas, still holds considerable political issue in the UK as it sheds light on the current dispute of certain migrant’s claims to citizenship and the vilification of migrants in the media, regardless of their absolute legal right to be in the country.

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Escapism vs. informative filmmaking

[Written by Ellen Magee] [Image by Adriana Iuliano] Watching a film is often an experience akin to invading the fantastical imagination of a stranger—that is, by the creative environment we enter, or the feelings invoked in us, or the fanciful characters whose lives we feel a part of. It is often thought that watching films is a method of escapism and a distraction from real life; a time to switch off and to fully immerse oneself in this fanciful world, far from any daily woes of our often bleak in comparison lives. This fantasy of cinematic experience is apparent particularly in films that depict imaginary utopian worlds, such as science fiction films, and superhero movies, to name a few. Indeed, the highest grossing films from 2018 are abundant in their fantasy worlds, not least The Incredibles 2, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Black Panther, and Ant Man and The Wasp. However, there are other films that—whilst still encompassing this cinematic experience—enforce important information on their audiences, such as Netflix’s 2018 hit Roma, which teaches its audience about the workings of a housekeeper in Mexico City, and BlacKkKlansman (2018), Spike Lee’s retelling of a true story about an African American cop infiltrating the KKK in 1970s America.

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On serendiption and all its friends

[Written by Martina Bani] [Illustration by Silvia Sani] Today I broke up with my boyfriend. “Long-distance relationships never work”a sentence I’ve heard so many times that it sickens me now. Most of all because it’s true. Dealing with feelings framed by long-distance is intense; euphoric one moment, and hopelessly dispirited a second after. No half measures. You could say that such an intensity of feeling best encapsulates the “rise and fall” paradigms of relationships, as the possibility of time together is limited. If the squeezebox of time shrinks, so do the bellowing feelings within it, and the sound comes out at a higher pitch. In this way, exploring the rapid dynamics of long-distance relationships can offer us insights on how relationships, in general, work.

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The Robots are Coming?

[Written by Flora Anderson] [Image by Anna Shams Ili] In 2017 Hanson Robotics’ social humanoid robot Sophia was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia. Sophia is very human-like in appearance: she can speak, move her face realistically, recognise other faces and even cracks a few jokes. It is strange, perhaps that the world’s first ‘female’ robot citizenship is granted in a country where many women still have to ask permission from their male relatives to leave the house. Despite this, is Sophia really the intelligent, conscious machine that she seems?

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The Monster and Me: learning to live with an eating disorder

[Written by Anonymous] [Image by Karin Tokunaga] Trigger Warning: this article includes discussion of eating disorders. Being skinny was part of me; at least that was what I’d been taught to believe. I remember how my friends told me how lucky I was to be skinny, how I got into modelling and my family was so proud of me, how my body shape was the first thing anyone seemed to notice about me. And then it turned into an obsession.   It’s a tale that has played out countless times.

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#MeToo – Zero-hours contracts, sexual assault and NDAs – Uber’s Public Image Priorities

[Written by Toju Adelaja] [Image Credit: freestocks.org//flickr.com] [Trigger Warning: This article includes discussion of sexual assault.] When Uber driver Rebecca Graham was sexually assaulted by two passengers and reported this to Uber; she was offered no counselling, reimbursement for lost wages, or anything remotely helpful. They also refused to disclose the identity of the passenger without a subpoena and that she couldn’t get a warrant since there was no evidence beyond her testimony.

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In Conversation with Effie Crompton

[Written by Gabriela Saldanha Blackwood] [Image Credit: Cuba photos 2018 by Effie Crompton; header and footer by Gabriela Saldanha Blackwood] On a sunny Glaswegian morning before the dreaded exam season had begun, I met up with Effie Crompton, a third-year communication design student at GSA and fellow North Londoner. Although it was our first time meeting, I had been following her dreamy Instagram (@effiecrompton) for some time. Over coffee at Papercup we discussed the intentions behind her art, the importance of community, and her recent trip to Cuba.

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Overcoming the Obsessive Urge to Pick at My Pimples

[Written By Annegret Maja Fiedler] [Image By Annegret Maja Fiedler//20th Century Fox Animation Studios] Trigger Warning: Discussions of mental illness, blood (minor), body hatred and self-harm (ritualistic). Since the age of eight, I have struggled with acne and dermatillomania, which also known as skin-picking or excoriation disorder. Dermatillomania is characterised by uncontrollable picking at skin on any area of the body, which can lead to emotional and physical damage. It can be triggered by boredom, negative feelings, and skin conditions such as acne or eczema. My toxic relationship with dermatillomania began with squeezing zits on my forehead before bed. I found it oddly comforting and addictive; perhaps for the same reason YouTube channels such as Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) have gained millions of subscribers.

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Out with the Old, in the with the New: Why We Need Less Television Reboots

[Written by Emma Harrison] [Images by Tosca de Wilt] We have never had such a broad range – or, arguably, high level of quality – of televisual content as we do right now. The monumental success of streaming services like Netflix has led to the production of an unprecedented number of programmes - we almost have too much choice in what we watch, from hundreds of sitcoms to colossal undertakings like Game of Thrones. But are we truly living in a ‘golden age’ of television? It seems a questionable claim considering that so many of its great successes are inspired by (or a direct reboot of) older material.

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#MeToo – A Catalyst for Legislative Change?

[Written by Pauliina Ketonen] [Image by Kate Zápražná] [Trigger Warning: this article includes discussion of sexual assault.] Scandals come and go, but in the last year, their number and media permanence has been dizzying. With reports spanning from Hollywood to the UN we are forced to acknowledge how deeply bullying, sexual harassment, and abuse are embedded in our society.

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Feeling Christmas

[Written by Elsa Lindström] [Image by Elena Roselli] Until last year, I was never that excited about Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, of course it was nice to have a reason to not go to school and get presents, but if someone asked me what my favourite holiday was, I would always answer Halloween. Christmas just simply was not that special, and I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about.

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