Seagull Books
01 Jan 2007

Index/Seagull will publish four-six books a year, beginning in mid 2007.  The focus will be on questions of rights, liberties, toleration, silencing, censorship and dissent.

We start with Manifestos for the Twenty-First Century. Free expression is as high on the agenda as it has ever been, though not always for the happiest of reasons.  Here, four distinguished writers address the issue of censorship in a complex and fragile world where people with widely different cultural habits and beliefs are living in close proximity, where offence is easily taken, and where words, images and behaviour are coming under the closest scrutiny.

Censoring the Body by Edward Lucie Smith This book, by a distinguished art critic, teases out the conflicting cultural strands when the human body is represented, and demonstrates how often we deceive ourselves when looking at representations of the naked human body within the cultural and legal frameworks of our own, now extremely plural, societies.

Censoring the Word by Julian Petley

This book will begin by examining the historical development of the notion of freedom of expression, showing how the ideas of key thinkers such as Milton, Locke, Mill and Jefferson developed into a classical paradigm of free speech which for long went largely unquestioned. It will then go on to examine the challenges in the modern era to the idea of freedom of speech as a universal good or right.

Censoring the Moving Image by Julian Petley and Philip French. Film’s power to move, to disturb, to terrify is unlike any other medium’s, which is why it has, throughout its history, been feared, controlled and censored as well as celebrated. One of our most famous and original film critics, Mark Kermode here looks at why film audiences have been treated like untrustworthy children and filmmakers as potentially dangerous enemies of society.

Censoring Sexuality by Paul Bailey

The novelist Paul Bailey examines and analyses the various kinds of censorship – political, literary, cultural – that have oppressed and silenced homosexual men and women in Europe, East and West, over the last two centuries. There is an autobiographical element as well, for the obvious reason that Bailey has seen many important changes take place during his lifetime – changes which are detailed here with wry wit and a sometimes barely concealed anger.

Also in 2007, we will publish the first of series of photographic books, Open Shutters by Eugenie Dolberg. In 2005, Eugenie Dolberg, a British freelance photojournalist and pioneering exponent of participatory photography, went to Damascus and began to work with six women, all from different regions and of different religions, none of whom had taken photographs before. She encouraged them to discover their own stories and taught them the craft skills of photography and aesthetics.

They very quickly learned to photograph with immense skill. With their hand-held cameras, they took pictures which represent their lives and personal journeys. This highly original book, with its stunning photographs accompanied by deeply moving texts, reveals in a completely new way the lives of women in the Arab world.

Padraig Reidy

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