Sunday, August 13, 2006

Documentaries: The French Riots and Rap | The Oral Folk History of Post WW2 Squatting

Discovering the wonderful BBC 4 recently, I've come across a series of documentaries that might be worth sharing with you. French rap has been the voice of the banlieues, the poor suburbs encircling Paris and other french cities, the tensions and the musical culture of these estates were briefly brought to international attention by the 1996 film La Haine and more recently during the recent riots where it 'blew on the embers' of rebellion in incendiary lyrics challenging the role of the poulet/police and national myths on what it means to be french. Straight Outta Clichy is a radio documentary that explores the contours of these antagonisms, with interviews with the main movers and shakers in the industry, rappers pursued by the French state for their lyrical descriptions of police violence and those that seek to use rap as a scapegoat for explosions against social deprivation.

Another excellent documentary I've listened to recently deals with the oral folk history of persistent shortages at the end of the second world war, a problem that lead to over 40,000 British people taking the law into their own hands and squatted in property that they didn't own presenting Atlee's Labour Government with its first great crisis. Squatter's Paradise is their tale. With ever escaluating rent prices in Dublin, this programme is definitely food for thought ( 1) Many of you will probably be shocked to find Dublin has its own militant history of squatting as a solution to a lack of social housing, in the seventies the Dublin Squatters Association housed hundreds with the state even threatening to bring in the army to help bailiffs.

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