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The Heart Is Where the Battle Is: An Interview with A. Sivanandan

 

A. Sivanandan

 

Abstract

A. Sivanandan, director of the Institute of Race Relations for over thirty years and the Founding Editor of Race & Class, has died. We publish below an interview with him, which prefaced the second collection of his writings Communities of Resistance: writings on black struggles for socialism (Verso, 1990), and which has not before appeared in the journal. In it, Sivanandan recounts his early life and education in the then colonial Ceylon, and the forces that shaped his politics, his poetry of language and thought, and his embrace of dialectical materialism. This was not just at the cerebral level but, more importantly and significantly, at the deepest personal level and, in this, it informed a profound and visionary activism that continued undaunted till his death. Crucial to the trajectory of his life was the experience of leaving the anti-Tamil riots in Ceylon and walking into the 1958 anti-black riots in Notting Hill, a ‘double baptism of fire’. The interview explicates the significance of the transformation that he spearheaded and, with IRR staff and members, fought for, of the Institute of Race Relations. In the process, an elitist government-orientated body became one that spoke from the vantage point of those at the sharpest end of racist exploitation and oppression. That transformation in itself exemplified the issues of race and class and their relationship that Sivanandan explored so fruitfully and with so much personal and political energy in all his writings and interventions. Out of it, and his thinking and principles, this journal was born.

 

Keywords

Comprador class, colonial education, dialectics, exile, imperialism, Institute of Race Relations, Notting Hill riots, Race & Class, racism, Sinhala-Tamil riots 1958

 

From: Race & Class 2018 59 (4)

Editor: Wang Yi

 

发布时间:2018-07-12 19:51:00