This Afterword provides reflections on individual chapters and the broader project that centres imperialism and its legacies for understanding both international and global inequalities. In particular, it draws out the significance of critical analysis of the violence of colonial capitalism more generally, within which taxation was a strategy of extraction and exploitation. While the method of analysis resonates with critical historical approaches of imperialism and its lasting legacies, the rich and empirically substantiated discussions of institutional arrangements that served to uphold extraction, often through brutal violence, are acknowledged. Another theme the chapter draws attention to is that of resistance to the imperial project. It concludes by offering some observations on how imperial extraction becomes disarticulated from the post-1945 international development framework. It also raises the question of how a just reparation may be effected without reproducing the logics of colonial violence.
This afterword summarises the book’s findings and argues that feminist movements can find strong allies in contemporary arts produced by men. The final focus is on Carrington’s compelling use of the feminist grotesque in Simphiwe Ndzube’s recent painting-assemblage As They Rode Along the Edge (2020) and China Miéville’s novella The Last Days of New Paris (2016). Both Ndzube and Miéville make explicit reference to Carrington’s wartime drawing I am an Amateur of Velocipedes (1941), whether collaging it into text or recycling the composition. Interestingly, both Ndzube and Miéville use examples of Carrington’s wartime output, and both use her characters as forms of exquisite corpse disguise, ultimately as acts of resistance to patriarchal landscapes. The afterword closes with a word of warning around misappropriation, namely David Cameron’s ill-advised visit to Magical Tales (2018).
Chapter 2 is a consideration of Carrington in the realm of fashion photography and performance art, leading to a discussion around cult status intersecting with pop culture. Tim Walker and Tilda Swinton (b.1960) summoned Leonora Carrington most potently in two iconic fashion stories, firstly for W Magazine (2013) then for i-D Magazine (2017). In these colourful and sumptuously upholstered scenes, with their eccentric perspectives, Swinton inhabits the irrational corners of the imagination, embodying the characters of Carrington’s visual narratives and borrowing from her distinctive iconography. Swinton portrays figures such as the medieval jester in Carrington’s painting Darvault (1950) and the robed creature in And Then We Saw the Daughter of the Minotaur (1953), among others. The overall effect is one of embodied storytelling, an intergenerational dialogue with Carrington as a medium to be working in and through. The sense of excess and abundance presented here is a contrast to a sparer, cooler aesthetics found in other facets of Swinton’s practice such as The Maybe (1995) where the actor displayed herself asleep in a vitrine. Swinton’s more recent curatorial projects are also considered, thus segueing into the next chapter.
This chapter introduces the salient features of Leonora Carrington’s esoteric art and writing. It unpacks the multiple meanings of the term “medium,” encompassing both its literal application (such as egg tempera paint) and its more poetic sensibility, both Carrington’s own interest in the occult as well as the idea of her work as a conduit for contemporary makers. This chapter uses an archaeological approach to Carrington’s key themes in order to mind her epistemologies or theories of knowledge. It considers her own extensive bibliographic sources such as children’s picture-book illustration as well as recurrent motifs with her work (e.g. the carousel horse, flying vehicles and dollhouse architecture).
Political agitation and public intervention in the new millennium
In the twenty-first century, Vaucher’s work rekindled its overtly political content in the aftermath of the Iraq War. A preoccupation with Palestine emerged, again mirroring her contemporary Peter Kennard. She formed a friendship with Banksy and contributed works to his Santa’s Ghetto project among others. Her work is situated in the context of the street art scene, anti-globalisation campaigns, the Occupy movement and collaborative art. Her work received renewed attention from younger generations with a quest for authenticity – both from people trying once again to carve out a genuine outsider space, and from ‘hipsters’, whose interest could be seen to tip over into cultural appropriation. While she returned to themes of pacifism and anti-militarism that were a key component of her work with Crass, her later output reveals a more subtle and varied aesthetic. This output is examined in the context of a period of political polarisation and social discontent, following years of austerity in the United Kingdom, and war, disasters and a refugee crisis worldwide, highlighting its relevance to a young, post-postmodern generation. Over this period, the process of her recognition also gathered pace, and 2016 saw both her first major retrospective exhibition and her work adopted as the abiding visual response to the election of Donald Trump. The impact of social media on both dissemination and meaning is discussed, while Vaucher’s unique approach to controlling the art market is revealed to be the overriding source of her autonomy.
This chapter explores the influence of Vaucher’s working class childhood in post-war Dagenham on her outlook and artwork. The roots of her pacifism, autonomy (in particular with regard to gender roles) and embrace of communal living, are all shown to originate in this milieu, as opposed to the counterculture or women’s movement. The chapter goes on to explore the role of art schools in engendering cultural change in Britain during the 1960s. It explores Vaucher’s experience of attending South East Essex Technical College and School of Art (1961–65), where her capabilities as a solo artist flourished. Her largely figurative early work is shown to embody a social realist quality that would become pronounced in her later illustrations for magazines, her journal International Anthem and Crass. It was also in this context that she met her lifelong creative partner, Penny Rimbaud, and their bond was formed through their shared ‘innate disobedience’ as well as their love of Pop Art and the Independent Group. The social mobility of the post-war decades facilitated cultural protagonists, including Vaucher, to emerge from the newly democratised art schools and universities, from a wider social background than was previously the case. Despite this, Vaucher’s experience of the art school environment was as an overwhelmingly middle-class environment that invoked reticence in her. The chapter also explores the formative role of the Aberfan Disaster (1966) on her world view.
Political economic governance and inequality in Indonesia
This chapter investigates the colonial tax system in Indonesia under Dutch rule. It demonstrates how in contemporary colonial logic, taxation, socio-economic development, and equality were seen as intrinsically connected. Taxation, and integrated systems of coerced labour, were presented as important pillars in colonial ‘civilisational’ projects of state formation, governance, and bureaucratisation. Far from simple extractive instruments deployed to fund empire, taxes were seen as integral administrative and disciplinary instruments to enhance economic centralisation, equality, capitalisation, monetisation, and the political transformation and reorganisation of colonised societies. The monetary tax system was designed to curtail the exploitative character of previous systems of labour exploitation and distribute the tax burden more equally among colonised populations across the archipelago. However, the limited capacity and considerable dependence of the Dutch administration on local rulers obstructed the supposed transformative power of taxation. Tensions between colonial policy and practice were resolved on the spot through negotiation, rendering a weak institutional infrastructure and preventing the emergence of a transparent and just bureaucracy, which ultimately only enhanced political and fiscal inequality.
In this chapter, the political urgency of renewing critical theory is stressed. The importance of solid social-theoretical foundations is underscored and the limitations of the recognition-cognitivist paradigm restated. In contrast, the possibilities contained with a renewed Freudo-Marxian form of normative social research are enumerated, and the need for a timely change in course ‘beyond recognition’ is stressed.
The politics of ‘financial autonomy’ in the French colonial empire, 1900–14
This chapter charts the evolution of French colonial finance at the turn of the twentieth century and draws the lineaments of the French imperial state’s fiscal hierarchy. It focuses specifically on political debates about the ‘cost’ of empire at a time of resurgent imperial protectionism and how they led to the voting of a series of laws in 1900 imposing ‘financial autonomy’ on French colonies and Algeria. From this moment onwards, French colonies were increasingly asked to draw on their own fiscal resources, but this did not equate to financial self-determination for the millions of French colonial subjects living in the empire. Instead, ‘autonomy’ served as a disciplining device which gave the metropole greater control over imperial expenditures. Like other imperial powers at the time, France sought to govern its empire ‘on the cheap’. In practice, this meant that locally levied taxes became the main revenue source for French colonial states. This chapter argues that this policy emerged out of the necessity to preserve a precarious metropolitan fiscal bargain in a context of extreme inequality and alleviate fears of colonial ‘profligacy’ in the aftermath of massive territorial conquest. The political fallout of this policy was immediate and generated a flurry of tax revolts, prompting several reformist colonial officials to rethink colonial financial relations in the aftermath of the First World War.
Vaucher’s involvement in Crass began while she was still resident in New York, from where she raised funds for the band to fly out and play gigs amidst the downtown No Wave music scene. It provides a wry account of her encounter with Johnny Rotten slumped outside CBGBs. In 1979, Vaucher returned to the UK to resume living at Dial House, this time as part of Crass. Crass attempted to reignite punk’s radicalism and grassroots ideology in the aftermath of its commercialisation following its first wave. The band became synonymous with an ethos of independence through setting up Crass Records to release their own music, and that of other like-minded bands. Vaucher’s designs for Crass were a key component in forging this new direction for punk, and the chapter looks at how the visual language she developed through her extensive body of designs for record sleeves, inserts, posters and other ephemera fused the aggression of punk with the pacifism and alternative life choices of the counterculture. Her work in this period makes use of satirical humour, attacking the bastions of punk, Sex Pistols, equally with establishment figureheads. Her work critiquing the role of the patriarchal nuclear family unit and Church in fostering oppression, and featuring the home as the setting where familial drama is played out is shown to draw on Surrealist anti-rationalism. Her work is discussed in relation to anarcho-feminist ideas that were gaining traction at the time, as evidenced in the output of Crass, Poison Girls and anarcho-punk fanzines.