Cash flow runs deep But spirit deeper. You ask am I my Brother’s keeper?
As much as idealists and populists yearn to frame it as such, London has never been a homogeneous place; through the various ethnic groups seeking refuge from an importunate world of hatred, or the slave trade commonly paralleled with the USA’s as being less worthy of consideration, the capital’s roots were not just flavoured by immigration, but essentially founded upon it.
Our anthropology trip consisted of a tour from the Migration Museum around London, and a subsequent ethnographic study within and regarding an area of our choosing. We met outside of the Royal Exchange at 9:30 sharp(ish). The sun was bright and surprisingly warm for an autumn morning, but we were soon disappointed by the rain’s sudden entrance, unfortunately continuing sporadically throughout the day. Luckily, this did not in any way hinder the enrichment which was provided to us through the tour around the East of London.
The main focus was of course migration, thus the different areas we explored throughout the first half of the day helped to illustrate the constant oppression and prejudice faced by immigrants, from the Jews and the Huguenots for centuries, to the rise of fascism from the likes of Oswald Mosley and the National Front. An important factor in our analysis of history should also be its effects on the present - fascism is still very present in today’s society, and radicalisation is growing constantly due to alienation and racial division.
What was most interesting was the extreme locality of fascism, as members of groups such as the National Front or the EDL would even be recruiting outside the gates of Danson Park; one should not make the mistake of disregarding far right ideologies as mere histories, but rather realise that our current time is essentially part of history and is definitely not void of extremist rhetoric leading to extreme actions.
After the tour, which discussed a variety of different significant people and locations (synagogues, poorhouses, and so on), we arrived at Brick Lane: a powerful microcosm of rampant gentrification and recuperation. At one end, exists the plethora of independent shops, street art, and diversity among its residents. The other end’s antithesis to this is perhaps best explained by the mere existence of a Pret and a Premier Inn. When walking in the extremely commodified portion of the road, there is a palpable atmosphere of the uncanny; it was as if the feeling of a former run-down part of London was currently merely simulated as to give the white middle-class residents the illusion of struggle in their day-to-day life, when in actuality, everybody around them earns six figure salaries and are there for the same reason.
We then had to perform the first part of our Internal Assessment, which was an ethnographic study; I chose to do mine in the heart of the gentrification of Brick Lane: Pret A Manger. I wrote notes on who I saw, what they presented themselves as, and how they acted in relation to other people of the same or different identities. It was insightful to see how all the different individuals contributed to the overall character of the location.
The trip was definitely an enriching experience. I believe that the study of anthropology is a very important one in the pursuit of making the world a more free and accepting place.
I answer by nature
By spirit by rightful laws
My name, my brother,
Alex Offen, Year 12