A number of significant moments and anniversaries will be marked across the UK in 2018, while important issues from the last 12 months will continue to dominate public debate.
As we say goodbye to 2017, members of the Goldsmiths community look ahead to what next year may bring.
Anniversaries of women's suffrage movement
These two anniversaries remind us that achieving equality is an incremental process of resilient campaign. While today women’s suffrage is enshrined in law, it does not guarantee a sense of enfranchisement for all women.
Freedom of expression, the pursuit of education and full participation in public life are rights that need constant affirmation by individuals and groups on a daily basis. 100 years and more of feminist scholarship, activism and practice work towards not only claiming but safeguarding women’s political and social space to think and thrive.
The vote gives voice but to be heard is an intersectional collective endeavour we engage with everyday. Some 100 and 90 years on, this anniversary marks crucial moments when women contributed to the continuum of action we need to secure full equality for all in 2018.
Representation in the cultural industries
The fact is, is that the cultural industries – which remain overwhelmingly white, with diversity initiatives having little impact – are increasingly savvy about the inclusion of minority in their productions, mostly driven by the fear of public backlash.
Will this lead to more meaningful roles for people of colour? I predict we’re going to see a hypervisibility of black and Asian folk in the coming year, but mostly in terms of either peripheral roles, or a race-less version of diversity.
In other words minorities will literally be employed to add colour to a production, and that is all. The year will no doubt produce a few breakout hits, as we saw in 2017, but these will do little to budge the cultural industries’ fundamental risk adverse behaviour, especially when dealing with people of colour.
While we will see more minorities in the British media, perhaps more than any point in history, how much will we actually learn about minority experience?
Centenary of the end of the First World War
November 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War – the commemorations are likely to keep me very busy – and looking back to that conflict, when the future of Europe was in contention and the USA took its first steps toward superpower status, is oddly apposite.
In politics, Europe’s future – and Britain’s presence (or absence) in it – will again be fought over, though more peaceably than in 1918. The ever dramatic Brexit negotiations are, of course, a part of this, but there are also wider issues at stake. Will the continental union take reforming steps to put itself at last on a stable political and economic footing?
Whether Donald Trump arrives on our shores next year for a “working visit” is still unclear. On past performance though, there seems little doubt that his presidency will continue lurching from crisis to crisis – unless, that is, special prosecutor Robert Mueller finds evidence that he did indeed collude with the Russians. At all events, what is certain is that as long as Trump remains in power the US’s hard-won prestige and international status will continue to decline.
AI: we need to talk about impact on data use
At present, there’s not much evidence that people find this situation concerning.
Public discourse around AI tends to focus on what might happen if a machine was considered intelligent in the same way that a person might be considered intelligent.
This idea is somehow bound up with notions of consciousness and sentience, and this might seem threatening.
However, a potentially more pressing question might be this: can our data be used to manipulate how we behave and make decisions?
Given news that such approaches may have impacted on our democracy, I think we might see a more rational debate emerging around the future of AI that could be more productive in the long term.
70 years since the Windrush
A shaping of British cultural, social and political life, not as they feared
Sacrifices made by a generation in search of a different life
Promises made, some kept, some lost
For the Windrush Pioneers at what cost?
An unknown destination, Wickham Road and Tanners Hill
Both not far from Goldsmiths, yet still!
We have within this institution an obligation to assist
We have the researchers, we have the archives,
Let us not be remiss
Politics to remain a rollercoaster
The big question for 2018 is whether May can hang on for the year. Short of a story coming out of left-field (not unlikely with Trump and Kim Jong-un in power), the big story in 2018 for us will be the Brexit negotiations.
Will May gain a coalition of support for a relatively soft Brexit that keeps Britain's easy access to European markets?
Can she hold together the pro-business, soft Brexit wing of her party with the hard-line Brexiteers? Will she hold off a challenge from Gove, Johnson or someone else? My view is probably to all of that.
And how difficult will negotiations be? The more it looks like a hard Brexit, the more the future of the United Kingdom will come into question as Scotland rethinks its place in Europe and pressure is placed on the Northern Irish peace agreement.