Munira Mirza

Munira is Director of Arts, Culture and Creative Industries Policy at the GLA. She has a background in journalism, lecturing and policy research, and has worked for a range of cultural and charitable organisations including the Royal Society of Arts and Tate. She is a member of Arts Council London, MLA London, a Council Member on the UK Committee of the European Cultural Foundation and is a founding member of the Manifesto Club. She did her PhD at the University of Kent on the subject of local cultural policies in the UK.

October 2008

Identity politics: undermining democracy?

The growth of identity politics means that instead of the universal claim for negative liberty, all minority groups are now encouraged to fight their corner for their piece of the recognition pie. In one fell swoop, such policies not only fix people into categories which are themselves restrictive, but also isolate groups from wider society.

April 2008

Grey skies thinking

The editors’ strange view of creativity, to be fair, is not entirely their fault. We live in a society obsessed with cultivating the creative mind: on this view, the mental attitude is all that matters, regardless of what end product it actually creates.

June 2007

The trouble with tolerance

Regulating Aversion charts the rise of ‘tolerance talk’ since the 1980s, promoted by state institutions, supra-national organisations such as the UN, non-governmental bodies, and civic organisations such as churches, schools, and charities.

Books

Do we need the Orange Prize to support women writers?

The whole point of the award - to give special recognition to women on the basis of their exclusion from the mainstream - seems so bizarre that even the sponsors seem faintly embarrassed by it.

Fiction
November 2006

Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance

The appearance is a straightforward war between the Enlightenment and the multiculturalists, but Buruma does not throw in his lot wholly behind one team. Rather, he recognises how the ‘Enlightenment’ has become a soundbite in itself, hollowed out of its original meaning.

Books
August 2006

Muhajababes

The book reveals a new type of devout, hijab-wearing girl who wears tight-fitting jeans, follows religious practices and yet loves the stream of pop video-clips appearing on Arabic television. These girls seem to represent the unpredictable fusion of Western commercialism with new-style spirituality.

Books
September 2003

Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain is very much a product of its times. It is set during the final years of the American Civil War, one of the most important chapters in the history of the USA. It was a period of dramatic fighting between the North and South, and the Yankees’ victory led to the abolition of the slavery. Yet Cold Mountain is entirely indifferent to this grand narrative and the whole point of this momentous period.

August 2003

Interview: Ramesh Meyyappan

Ramesh Meyyappan brought a unique one-man show to the Edinburgh Fringe this year (2003)- A Visual Adaptation of Dario Fo’s ‘Mistero Buffo’. This mimed piece is a funny, warm and intelligent example of the potential of visual storytelling.

February 2003

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Mark Haddon, an established children’s author, has written a highly polished and engaging first novel for adults. The story is narrated by a fifteen year old boy with Asperger’s syndrome (similar to autism), who lives with his father in Swindon.

Fiction
November 2002

The Identity of England

Since the 1980s, the word ‘identity’ has come to feature in the titles of an increasing number of academic history books. With its radical connotations of subjectivising history, the word ‘identity’ is very much associated with the vocabulary of the postmodern historian.

February 2002

Unless - (Man Booker Prize 2002, SHORTLISTED)

Unless is a subtle and intelligently written novel which tackles the drama of ‘goodness’ as opposed to ‘greatness’, examining loss and suffering through the curious details of everyday life.

Fiction

Culture at the Crossroads

Following the so-called ‘culture wars’ and the rise of postmodernism, postcolonialism, poststructuralism and various other ‘isms’, it is little wonder that the cultural institutions of Western society are going through something of an identity crisis.

February 2001

Gender and Genre in Impressionist Portraiture

In the nineteenth century, the portrait form explored and celebrated the individual as a unique and dynamic identity.

Culture Wars was included in creativetourists’ Top 25 UK Arts & Culture Blogs 2009.