What ‘Lake Trump’ tells us about the geopolitics of naming in the Balkans

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In the year 2020, it has become almost routine for headlines that could have easily been outlandish satire not so long ago to become reality. “Disputed reservoir on the Serbia-Kosovo border to be named after President Donald Trump” is one that fits this description fairly well. …


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Image: Marcus Rashford via Wikimedia Commons

Marcus Rashford’s campaign for the government to extend the provision of Free School Meals (FSMs) for the country’s neediest children has been nothing short of inspirational. Indeed, the government even recommended he be awarded an MBE for his work after his initial campaign on the issue during the summer, which is slightly curious as the work in question involved pressuring Prime Minister Boris Johnson to U-turn on the issue.

Yet just a couple of months later, the government rejected the England and Manchester United striker’s calls, declining to support the very thing for which they had decided to honour him. Now, the narrative has turned insofar as to describe such interventions as ‘ celebrity virtue signalling’, and Conservative MPs have been at pains to shift the debate back towards the age-old British political paradigm of individualistic parental responsibility. …


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Illustration by Patrik Vojtas

Across the world, many countries have multiple large cities that are informally understood as the capital cities for different sectors of the country. While Berlin is the political and cultural capital of Germany, Frankfurt is its financial centre; in Italy, Milan is the financial and industrial capital rather than the political heartland of Rome; the United States of America has its centres of influence differentiated between New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. In Britain, however, the spheres of culture, politics, the economy, and finance all emanate from one place: London.

While its smaller landmass than the aforementioned countries perhaps makes it less likely to sustain multiple ‘capitals’, it is nonetheless striking that a nation of the United Kingdom’s standing is dominated so much by one city. London is by far the largest, most populous, and most productive city in the UK, and much more than simply the political and administrative centre. As such, for at least the last few decades, London has had an almost inevitable magnetism, drawing in more and more of the country through improvements in commuter transport links and enticing people in with its immense cultural infrastructure of landmarks, museums, cafes, restaurants, theatres and bars. …


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Image: https://www.themag.co.uk/2020/04/comment-discovering-secret-path-to-lead-you-through-moral-maze-of-the-newcastle-united-takeover/

When talk of a potential takeover of Newcastle United began in early 2020, fans were ecstatic; after 13 years of the drab ownership of Mike Ashley, supporters of the club were desperate for regime change.

The Magpies, as they are nicknamed, have the ninth-highest trophy total of clubs in England, yet they have languished in mediocrity for the most part of the 21st Century, with Geordies desperate for some much-needed investment in the squad which Ashley was unwilling or unable to provide.

When a deal to buy Newcastle for £300 million was then agreed upon with a group consisting of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers, a new era seemed on the horizon, pending the Premier League’s approval of the ownership change. …


Making the case against untouchable material history

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The statue of Edward Colston is thrown into Bristol harbour (https://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2020-06-10/mayor-of-bristol-says-statue-of-edward-colston-will-be-retrieved-from-harbour-and-exhibited-in-a-museum/)

As the Black Lives Matter protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd have swelled and spread, the movement has become one of a broader challenge to structural racism and inequality, inspiring large-scale peaceful demonstrations not just in the United States but also many other countries, including the United Kingdom. These protests led to a landmark moment on Sunday 7th June, when the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston was torn down and thrown into the harbour during demonstrations in Bristol.

Many cheered and celebrated this moment, drawing attention to Colston’s despicable history in the trade of captive slaves. The fact that a statue of a slave trader stood proudly on the streets of a British city in 2020 is shameful enough; what is even more disheartening, though, is the amount of people who were so aghast at its removal. Even those who asserted that it would have been preferable for this act to have been sanctioned through the ‘proper channels’ mostly agreed with the sentiment, and accepted that this was an event created out of frustration and democratic failure thanks to several repeated attempts to remove or amend the monument through officially-sanctioned means. There are, however, many people who assert that their defence of this statue, and ones of similarly contentious historical figures, rests not on a defence of a slave-trader, but on the principles of not ‘destroying’ or ‘erasing’ history. It is this notion of the what is falsely presented as neutral and apolitical conservatism of the preservation of history in the material urban landscape that I will take issue with here. …


Why Premier League footballers were the only group in the entertainment industry ordered to “do their bit” during the Coronavirus crisis

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Jordan Henderson, Liverpool captain and reportedly the main organiser of the #PlayersTogether initiative for donations to the NHS during the Coronavirus crisis (Image: Getty)

The Coronavirus pandemic is a crisis with catastrophic consequences for public health, society, and the economy; this much has become abundantly clear since March 2020. The secondary impacts on the livelihoods of millions of people in the country, not to mention the demand for resources for a fragile National Health Service (NHS), will be felt for some time. We are all having to make some kind of sacrifice, whether that is simply restricting ourselves to the confines of our own homes, losing our jobs, or even losing loved ones. The government is having to expend monumental sums of money to hold the economy together, and the NHS is crying out for more equipment and cash. With all of this considered, should the richest people in this country be asked to pay more and do their bit for the greater good? …

About

Dan Hall

Oxford Geography graduate, now at UCL; Geography, Politics and Football, in no particular order…

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