It has been a privilege to work with Geoffrey and John on this fascinating collection of essays, and we asked them to put a few words together about their research and the driving force behind the book.
Geoffrey Cox and John Corner explore the arts of sound, investigating the richness of what we hear as well as what we see in non-fiction films.
We all recognise that sound is important to documentary films, without it we would often have no idea of what we were looking at or of its significance. What is far less recognised is the often complex ways in which our listening becomes interlinked with our viewing so as to generate feelings and ideas well beyond those carried simply in ‘what is said’. This is partly a matter of how documentary producers work to let us hear the world as well as see it, a world of noises, natural, and mechanical and of patterns and textures of speech going well beyond the literal content of commentary or interview. The sonic dimension involves a range of technological and aesthetic creativity in the production process right through from initial recording through to final editing. Often, it importantly involves the use of music in ways which we might be encouraged to register but which will often work powerfully in the background, shaping the kinds of knowledge and pleasure we get from a film without our being consciously aware of it.
A huge range of non-fiction film uses sounds in this way to guide and supplement our visual experience and fill it with feeling. The longstanding practices of film, television and now web advertising show a range of sound designs importantly at work, so too do the even more longstanding techniques of film propaganda. However, many documentary and video makers, rather than reinforce the delivery of a narrow message, have wanted to use the possibilities of different sounds to enrich, make more complex and perhaps even challenge, the sense of reality ‘coming through’.
In our work, drawing on international contributors including film-makers and composers as well as academics, we ask questions about how sounds are recorded and assembled in documentary production, about the variety of the ways in which they work when listened to and about their contribution to making this area of visual culture an important culture of sounds too. Our belief is that further critical attention here goes beyond the expanding area of documentary scholarship and connects with a broader understanding of the contemporary media arts.
Hezbollah – from the original Arabic term meaning “Party of God”, which can also be transliterated as “Hizbullah” or “Hizballah” – is an Iranian-backed Shiite militia group that was established in the early 1980s. It was initially formed to drive foreign forces out of Lebanon and its bombing of French and American bases in Beirut in 1983 claimed 299 lives. Hezbollah is hostile towards Israel and supports President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war.
Hezbollah’s emblem features a stylised assault rifle and its forces have adopted the “Hitler salute”. In 2002, Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said that if all the world’s Jews were to gather in Israel, this would make it easier to kill them in a “final and decisive battle”.
The organisation has a track record of global criminal activity, with a particular emphasis on terror attacks – not only against Israelis, but also against Jewish targets worldwide.
However, Hezbollah has also participated in Lebanese elections since 1992. It holds government positions and provides social welfare. For this reason Hezbollah is not completely “proscribed” or banned under current UK law. Instead the government has banned the “military wing” of Hezbollah only, but not the “political wing”.
Banning terrorist groups
The Terrorism Act 2000 gives the Home Secretary power to proscribe an organisation if it is “concerned in terrorism”. Hezbollah’s “military wing” has been proscribed since 2008. But its other “wings” – its MPs, government ministers and social welfare activities – are not.
The Terrorism Act makes it an offence for a person, in a public place, to wear an item of clothing, or to carry or display a flag “in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation”. In 2004, a man was convicted of this offence after passing through a Scottish port wearing a ring which prominently displayed the initials “UVF”. This had caused police to believe he was a member or supporter of the proscribed Ulster Volunteer Force, a loyalist paramilitary group.
The consequences of the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and non-military wings were seen at last year’s al-Quds Day rally where, as in previous years, Hezbollah flags and other articles were paraded through central London. Yet no one was arrested – even though all of Hezbollah’s wings share the same emblem.
More than just a flag
Some of the emblem-bearers – perhaps encouraged by the rally’s organisers in order to avoid trouble – even affixed stickers expressing support for the “political wing”. Yet they also chanted: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This is generally understood to be a call for the military destruction of the state of Israel. This would suggest that the marchers were not supporting only Hezbollah’s “political wing”, but its “military wing” also.
Distinctions drawn between Hezbollah’s “military” and “political” wings are unpersuasive. The entire organisation is banned in some countries including the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Israel.
The UK government has justified taking a different approach by reference to the historical distinction between the IRA and Sinn Féin. Yet Hezbollah itself repeatedly rejects any such notion. An early Hezbollah document stated:
Our military apparatus is not separate from our overall social fabric. Each of us is a fighting soldier.
In 2000, deputy secretary general of Hezbollah, Sheikh Naim Qassem said:
Hezbollah has one single leadership…It manages the political activity, the jihad activity, the cultural and the social activities…we have one leadership, with one administration.
In 2002, Muhammad Fannish of Hezbollah’s political bureau said:
No differentiation is to be made between the military wing and the political wing of Hezbollah.
In 2013, Hezbollah’s political affairs official, Ammar Moussawi, said:
Everyone is aware of the fact that Hezbollah is one body…Its military and political wings are unified.
However, jokingly I will say – though I disagree on such separation or division – that I suggest that our ministers in the upcoming Lebanese government be from the military wing of Hezbollah!
Such statements cast serious doubt upon the distinction between the “military” and “political” wings maintained in UK law. It makes no sense to proscribe only the former but not the latter, when Hezbollah’s own representatives insist that there is no real division between the two.
Since last year’s al-Quds Day March, there have been calls from both Conservative and Labour figures for Hezbollah to be proscribed in its entirety. In January this year, MPs passed a motion calling for the home secretary to do just that. And it is hoped that Amber Rudd will now do so.
Political parties use immigration policies as key selling points, driving a division in public opinion – with either fear and hostility towards immigrants, or with unnecessary overwhelming praise. Both are equally undeserved.
And in this politically charged atmosphere, discussion of immigration has become the poster child of an era in which expertise is vilified and inconvenient truths become “fake news”. And the fewer facts we have, the more outrage there is.
A mixed picture
The reality is that as researchers, we know little about the relationship, if any, between immigration and crime. This is in part because lowbrow journalistic obsession with immigration and crime has made it somewhat a taboo topic for research. As evidenced by the limited academic literature available, a consensus simply does not exist.
Similarly, a large scale European study on the effects of immigration on crime concluded that while an increase in immigration generally does not affect crime levels, it does go hand-in-hand with increased public anxiety and anti-immigration stances.
It’s all about culture
Research also shows that immigrants who come from culturally similar backgrounds to their new area, are likely to commit fewer crimes than the native population. Research on Los Angeles, for example, found that a higher number of Latino immigrants who were from culturally similar regions to the current residents, reduced the rates of violence in the area.
Similarly, research in Spain showed that Spanish speaking immigrants had a much more benign impact on crime than those of other origins. Such immigrants undoubtedly have an easier time moving to a new country where the culture reflects something like their own.
Similarly in the UK, the impact of two waves of immigration has been examined by researchers, specifically looking at the relationship between a rise in immigration and crime levels. The analysis found that when workers from Eastern European states (that joined the EU in 2004) came to the UK, the impact on crime was minimal. But the research also found that the wave of asylum seekers who came to the UK in the 1990s – mainly from war torn countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia – coincided with a slight increase in the total number of property crimes at the time. This was thought to be down to the fact that employment rates for this wave of immigrants was much lower than those of the average Briton.
What about multicultural areas?
Immigrant populations tend to be very concentrated, with people tending to reside in areas with existing communities. My recent research shows that throughout England and Wales, areas where immigrants from one single background make up a significant majority of the immigrant population, tend to be low in crime. Nearly as low in crime as the areas with small immigrant populations.
It doesn’t make a difference what the background of the immigrant population is, what appears to be key is that there is a cultural similarity among the immigrant population within an area. My research also found that areas with very high numbers of immigrants that are low in crime – or below the nation’s average – tend to be areas with either European or African immigrants.
But my research also showed that areas where two or more cultures (other than that of the indigenous population) are prevalent, tend to be very high in crime. This is specifically the case in areas with the highest proportions of immigrants from Asia and Europe. In these areas violent crime is 70% higher, property crime is 92% higher and vehicle crime increases by 19% compared to national average.
What to do about it
The research I have carried out shows the need to view culture as invaluable in the examination of the impact immigration has on crime.
It must also be considered that immigrant communities are less inclined to contact police and more likely to “self police” – which inevitably can result in more crime. So, policing of immigrant communities, which are becoming increasingly more concentrated, needs to be done with cultural differences in mind.
Social housing and other affordable housing initiatives must also be thought through carefully to avoid creating cultural clashes where possible. Some recent advances such as the UK government’s Integrated Communities Strategy already try to address language barriers that preclude integration. But ultimately, more calm discussion with a view towards a safer and more cohesive world would not hurt either.
Crime, Security and Society is an academic journal, housed within the Secure Societies Institute, which seeks a wide and diverse audience of academics and practitioners who strive to better understand and reduce both current and future crime and security threats experienced by many societies, to encourage collaborative thinking from disciplines as seemingly distinct as; computer science, precision engineering, forensic biology, linguistics, cognitive neuroscience, organic chemistry, and criminal psychology.
This first issue has some really interesting articles which bring together strands of research to look at key issues facing society. The articles include:
Crime, Security and Society is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed publication with an applied focus on crime and security issues. Research papers co-authored by academics and practitioners from different disciplines (or fields) that would not ordinarily publish collaborative research together, are particularly sought, as are those of both interest and utility to academics, practitioners (e.g. police and security personnel) and policy makers.
We hope you enjoy the first issue and, if you would like to get in touch with the journal team, please email email@example.com
We are very excited to showcase this premier pharmaceutical event in an open access format which reiterates the journal ethos of promoting the science and practice of pharmacy to the world enabling a ‘fee-free’ publication for researchers and ‘free-access’ to the readers across the world. The inability to access scientific literature freely can be a major obstacle in the advancement of science, and BJPharm is committed to bridging this gap.
Open access, preservation and citation
The proceedings are published with creative commons attribution which permits anyone to use the material freely without any restriction. All papers have an individual DOI with cross-ref compliance, and are preserved in the portico archive to ensure lifelong availability. The publications are also integrated with powerful search engines like Google Scholar to ensure the visibility and maximise their access to readers internationally. Publication in this format without any fee entails hard work both for the Publisher and the journal’s honorary editorial team but it offers the authors an opportunity to present their work globally without any barriers and ensures that authors do receive an appropriate citation credit for their work.
We hope that our readers will find this special issue informative and those who could not attend the conference earlier in September shall have another opportunity to benefit from the research presented at the event.
We thank you all our partners and contributors for their cooperation and support and shall look forward to their continued support in the future to make this Open Access initiative a great success in promoting the science and practice of pharmacy.
Ruby Cowling is one of the authors published in our collection of poetry and prose, I You He She It, published earlier this year. In this blog post she talks about how fiction writing can be an outlet for your own viewpoints, but also a way to explore societal issues.
Something to say? Tell a story
In my current work-in-progress, a novel, I have found myself writing about data privacy, corporate power, manipulative advertising, the mental health of young people and the ethical questions surrounding artificial intelligence. Put that way, it sounds as if I’m writing some polemic, banging a drum for a whole range of troublesome issues, trying to do with fiction something I could do better through journalism or social action.
Maybe it’s cowardice. This way I can afford to put my head just slightly above the parapet, because I always have the excuse that it’s fiction. It was the character that made me say it!
But then, fiction has always done this – acted as a Trojan Horse to smuggle in disruptive messages about us as humans, about our society, about things we should be questioning if we’re going to progress in a humane way. Storytelling’s oral tradition, in particular, has been one of the most effective and enduring methods of resisting repressive power. So the guise of entertainment is not, I think, an ignoble one.
That’s the difference, though, between polemic and storytelling. The entertainment value.
The holy grail for me – as a reader as well as a writer – is a great story laid on a bed of, for want of a better phrase, “serious issues”. Story is hard. With my work-in-progress, I’ve actually found the story much harder to bring out than those issues, and have had to fight to prioritise it when the many “serious themes” have been falling over each other to be heard. But I knew I didn’t want to end up with some rant. I want readers to have a good time, first and foremost. Two spoonfuls of sugar to help the medicine go down.
A note on the medicine
I think contemporary British society is particularly under-addressed in our (contemporary British) fiction. There are plenty of exceptions, of course, but there’s a tendency to avoid referencing the enormous changes we’re going through – and a trend in publishing for nostalgia and “the known” (historical fiction; books based on true stories or real people) – and the risk is, we’re creating a cultural gap.
With technological and societal change affecting us so profoundly and so rapidly, our modern world is bewildering, it’s true. Further, I understand that for a huge number of people reading, as a leisure activity, is an escape; I appreciate that they want to be taken elsewhere, not forced to relive a printed copy of the tough day they’ve just had.
I mean, I’d love to be able to write poetically about the idyllic worlds of yesteryear, simple folk pursuing lyrical lives in the fresh air and so on, but apart from the fact I don’t have that skill, it just doesn’t seem honest. Instead I keep finding myself back chewing over the messy stuff we’re dealing with here and now.
Ironically, that often means I write speculatively about a very-near-future or just-slightly-alternative-present – as in the novel I’ve been working on. But that just takes us back to the storytelling tradition. Don’t tell it straight, or it risks being a rant. (And, it’s important to mention, in some societies it risks the wrath of the powers you’re questioning.) Twist it, reshape it, douse it in story. Make it an allegory, a metaphor, an glorious adventure. Ideally, the reader will come away saying Wow, I had a great time with that story – and it really made me think.
As part of our our #OAWeek series we caught up with the Editor of the British Journal of Pharmacy, Hamid Merchant, to find out why he is so passionate about open access in healthcare research and what some of the challenges and achievements have been for the journal in its first year.
Why is open access important in healthcare?
Open access is the future of research! Think about a fantastic piece of research that cannot be accessed and read freely across the globe, how this could benefit society?
The more we would like patients and carers to get involved in their treatment, the more access to reliable scientific resources is needed. The inability to access scientific literature freely by the public can be a major obstacle.
Let’s take an example. Malaria is a massive public health issue in African countries, and the top research in Malaria is published in journals which are far beyond the reach of those nations. Open access publishing bridges this gap and allows anyone to access recent advancements in science and literature which are particularly for the benefit to the public health, safety and their well-being.
Bringing accessibility and credibility together
Many open access journals in the field lack credibility and a rigorous peer-reviewed process, and may accept poor quality publications if authors agree to pay their fees. The reputable journals offering optional open access incur a substantial upfront payment to cover their publication costs, and hence many authors cannot afford to publish open access in a journal with a credible reputation. The BJPharm bridged this gap in reputation and quality, yet offered a free service to authors and readers across the globe. The next month also marks the first anniversary of the journal.
The first year of BJPharm
The fee free model for Open Access publishing is not easy. No income from publication means the journal would need an incredible level of voluntary support. The success of the BJPharm lies behind the honorary team of editors, peer reviewers, and the University Press. The journal would not have been possible without invaluable contribution from the whole team.
BJPharm has successfully published two issues over the past year. We have been proud to maintain the integrity of the quality peer review process BJPharm and have attracted good quality submissions across the globe over the past year. The journal has also teamed up with the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Great Britain to publish the proceedings of the 8th International PharmSci meeting held in September 2017 at Hertfordshire in a special issue. For the first time, this will enable a fee-free access to the research presented in this prestigious meeting of pharmaceutical scientists in the UK.