Cullinan, Henrietta

Cullinan, Henrietta

Henrietta Cullinan

1 December 2023Comment

'It is indeed a feeling that ‘something just ain’t right.’'

‘“Peace, peace,” they cry’ – Jeremiah

‘The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart’
– Dorothy Day

On Armistice Day, I joined the march for Palestine as it snaked round Victoria. I sighed, I sat down on some steps, looked at the last yellow leaves left on the trees and on the ground and renewed my conviction that at heart I am an anarchist.

Given all that’s written on the subject, how am I qualified to count myself in that…

1 October 2023Review

Gallery 46, 46 Ashfield St, London E1 2AJ, 11 – 17 September

At Gallery 46, a carefully renovated Georgian house in Whitechapel, curator Zayna Al-Saleh has gathered big names in art activism such as Vivienne Westwood, Gavin Turk, Adam Broomberg and Jeremy Deller.

Far from street protest, where Art the Arms Fair has its roots, some pieces are expected to fetch tens of thousands of pounds at auction.

Just as the DSEI arms fair four miles away offers luxurious hospitality to its corporate and military clients, this exhibition comments, with…

1 October 2023Review

Fernwood Publishing 2023; 240pp; £15.99

I first joined Women in Black (WiB) after the pandemic when people were still cautious about gathering.

Every Wednesday, we stand for an hour at the foot of the Edith Cavell statue in Central London. The passers-by are tourists, school trips, commuters in suits, daredevil cyclists, people dressed-up for a night out, theatre-goers, street homeless.

A few, usually men, react strongly to our standing there, apparently affronted by our call for an end to militarism and war.

14 June 2023Blog

Henrietta Cullinan reviews Orisun Productions recent performance of Playfight at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington (29 May - 3 June)

TJ, Kai and Zara, are school friends who have been inseparable since childhood. Their relationship changes as they struggle with parental expectations at the same time as their own desires.

The two boys are involved in a fight, caught on cctv. Zara is physically hurt when trying to break it up.

The headmistress, instead of supporting them, divides them and disbands their friendship group. In chance meetings - in the street, in the playground - we hear from the characters two at…

2 April 2023Review

Fortress Press, 2022; 190pp; £14.99  

In this book, the author investigates how self-identifying Christians, followers of Jesus’ message of peace and compassion, can follow a nationalist movement that is inherently violent and racist.

Using her knowledge of political psychology and an understanding of the history of Christianity and evangelism in the US, Pamela Cooper-White tackles this wide-ranging, complex topic with the purpose of outlining the possibilities for change.

Christian Nationalism is defined by…

1 February 2023Review

Simon & Schuster, 2022; 304 pp; £14.99

Having campaigned for many years against nuclear weapons and the arms trade, I have often wondered how I would react to a violent attack on me or my family. I was drawn to this book in a search for what I see as the hardest kind of peace activism: to understand forgiveness among individuals.

In the prologue, Marina Cantacuzino explains that she chose storytelling as a tool with which to resist the mainstream narrative of redemptive violence during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.


1 December 2022Review

Penguin, 2022; 720pp; £12.99

Often playful and accessible in style, The Dawn of Everything guides readers on an ambitious intellectual adventure through thousands of years and across continents. Open the book at any page and you will instantly get drawn into fascinating accounts of states that are not states, vanishing cities, kings with no authority, clown policemen and other lively confusions.

In Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality among Mankind (1754), Jean-Jacques Rousseau…

1 October 2022Review

 Verso, 2022; 400pp; £20

It is challenging and frustrating to read in this book about the efforts nations have put into making war more palatable.

For most people, the idea of a ‘humane’ war is a contradiction in terms, particularly now as we watch Putin’s aggressive war in Ukraine unfold. Samuel Moyn quotes the Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz: ‘The fact that slaughter is a horrifying spectacle must make us take war more seriously.’

Clausewitz also warned that laws on the…

1 April 2022Review

Goldsmith Press, 2020; 432pp; £32

Having volunteered with a small religious group supporting homeless refugees in Calais and London, I resonated strongly with this book. In particular, it helped me to see, in hindsight, our contribution as part of an extraordinary international mobilisation of volunteers endeavouring to provide refugees and migrants with on-the-ground help.

The book is divided geographically into ‘flashpoints’; places where refugees and migrants gathered to cross borders or found their journey across…

1 February 2022Feature

Some other acquitted activists respond to the historic Colston Four verdict

To mark the Colston Four acquittal, we asked some other campaigners who’d been found ‘not guilty’ in protest cases for their reactions. We’ve put them in chronological order of their earliest not-on-technical-grounds acquittal (some of them have multiple court victories).

Chris Cole:

I was delighted to see the acquittal of the Colston Four for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it kept an evidently lovely bunch of people out of jail.

Secondly, it led to a whole raft of MPs…

1 February 2022Review

Hamish Hamilton, 2021; 208pp; £14.99

Recently, Love Island star Molly Mae was forced to apologise after promoting her pet theory that ‘everyone has the same 24 hours in a day’ and so can achieve their goals. Her inept blindness to inequality and poverty is a good popular example of the topic of this book: Zakaria defines white feminism as those parts of feminism that claim to speak for all women, but which neglect to acknowledge the racially privileged positions that its proponents both assume and occupy.

1 December 2021Review

Rowman & Littlefield, 2021; 438pp; £29

With this book, Ray Acheson guides us through the collaborative processes that brought about the 2016 UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the first legally-binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons. Acheson is director of Reaching Critical Will, the disarmament programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

Drawing on their own observations and feminist analysis, Acheson recounts how the parties…

1 October 2021Review

Luath Press, 2021; 224pp; £12.99

For me, the most interesting chapter in Activism for Life was ‘Answering questions from a young activist’, in which Angie Zelter reflects on what makes for effective action and on her support for the direct action tactics used by current movements.

Most of the book, though, is storytelling along with an archive collection. Zelter covers 50 years of nonviolent direct action campaigns – from Greenham Common to the founding of XR Peace.

As she recounts her own experiences…

1 August 2021Review

Pluto Press, 2021; 160pp; £9.99

In this book, Leah Cowan dares the reader to imagine a country without borders , encouraging us to take off our ‘capitalist-tinted glasses’ in order to understand migration. She also recommends that we use her book as a companion to understanding the stories told by migrants themselves.

Challenging the view of migrants as ‘outsiders’, she recounts some of the history of British colonial expansion and resource extraction which has left many countries impoverished and economically…

20 July 2021Review

Verso, 2020; 224pp; £14.99

The author, a well known philosopher and gender theorist, seeks to secure the often ‘disputed’ terms violence and nonviolence through a project that explores texts from psychoanalysis, sociology and philosophy. In the quest for a definition, Butler starts with the philosophical fantasy of premodern man in a state of nature, in perpetual, selfish conflict with his neighbours. This man arrives on the scene as a fully formed adult, excluding women, children, the elderly or sick from discussions…