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Refusing politics as usual: mapping women of colour’s radical praxis in London and Amsterdam

Akwugo Emejulu, Inez van der Scheer

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Taylor & Francis Group


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This article explores an intriguing emergent organising strategy among women of colour activists in London and Amsterdam: a politics of refusal. In response to the triple catastrophes facing women of colour: the on-going roll back of social welfare states, the normalisation of the far right in everyday life and the xenophobic backlash against migrants, we find that some women of colour activists are deliberatively withdrawing from view and working outside of dominant left activist spaces. Rather than demanding recognition and rights from institutional actors and supposed allies, many activists appeared to welcome and embrace their marginalisation as this exclusion from mainstream life creates the possiblity for alternative ways of doing politics and being political. Drawing on the work of Audra Simpson, we attempt to map the contours of women of colour’s refusal politics and consider how refusal generates different approaches to sovergenity and ungovernability.

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