Academics Against the Arms Fair: An Open Letter

January 22, 2018

Last September, students, academics and activists from around the world travelled to East London to protest one of the largest arms fairs in the world. One of the (many!) events during the week of protests was Conference at the Gates; an academic action against the arms fair. Below is the open letter which supported the action, originally posted on The Disorder of Things.

A group of people sit under a marquee listening to a facilitator

Last September, about 1500 weapons manufacturers and representatives of more than 100 states descended on London for Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) – the world’s largest arms fair. The companies have exhibited products ranging from crowd control equipment and ammunition to fighter jets and military vehicles, which they displayed to militaries, police forces and border agencies from around the world. DSEI is a major event for the international arms trade, and the deals done there play a major role in reinforcing Western militarism, fuelling conflict, repressing dissent and strengthening authoritarian regimes.

Canvases on display at Conference at the Gates; one shows a person's face in a headscarf

Last September, the Stop the Arms Fair coalition held a week of action in an attempt to prevent the arms fair from taking place. Anti-militarist groups, working in solidarity with activists from countries which have suffered the brutal consequences of the arms trade, held a series of events to disrupt the setup of DSEI. One event during this week was ‘Conference at the Gates’, an academic conference held in front of the arms fair, where participants debated ideas about militarism while taking action to resist it.

We support this week of action and Conference at the Gates, and call on the UK government to end its support for DSEI. As academics working on topics related to war, conflict, security, human rights, and international relations, we are opposed to the presence of this arms fair in London, and to the substantial support provided by the UK government to make it happen. It is wrong to argue, as the government does, that the arms trade contributes to security – it fuels conflict, facilitates repression, and makes the world a more dangerous place. In a world of complex challenges militarism should be regarded as part of the problem, not the solution.

Signed by,

Professor Sara Ahmed, Independent

Professor Nadje Al-Ali, SOAS

Professor Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley

Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos, University of Coimbra

Professor Lisa Duggan, New York University

Professor Cynthia Enloe, Clark University

Professor Arturo Escobar, University of North Carolina

Professor Lewis Gordon, Global Centre for Advanced Study; UCONN-Storrs; Rhodes University

Professor David Graeber, LSE

Professor Derek Gregory, University of British Colombia

Professor John Holloway, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Puebla

Professor Richard Jackson, University of Otago

Professor Laleh Khalili, SOAS, University of London

Professor Saskia Sassen, Colombia University, New York

Professor Vron Ware, Kingston University

Siân Addicott, Swansea College of Art

Dr Linda Åhäll, Keele University

Dr Kirsten Ainley, LSE

Hilary Aked, University of Bath

Simona Alexandra, Demilitarise King’s

Mehmet Ali, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

Dr Jamie Allinson, University of Edinburgh

James Angel, King’s College London

Dr Leonie Ansems de Vries, King’s College London

Dr Claudia Aradau, King’s College London

Dr Gordon Asher, University of the West of Scotland


Dr Grietje Baars, City University of London

Dr Catherine Baker, University of Hull

Professor Mona Baker, University of Manchester

Dr Sita Balani, King’s College London

Dr Victoria Basham, Cardiff University

Mareike Beck, University of Sussex

Dr Laurie Benson, King’s College London

Professor G. K. Bhambra, University of Warwick

Jon Bigger, Loughborough University

Dr Ira Bliatka, Independent

Professor Lindsey Blumell, City University London

Dr Shannon Brincat, Griffith University

Dr Maria Brock, Södertörn University College

Dr Christopher Browning, University of Warwick

Dr Ian Bruff, University of Manchester

Mirjam Büdenbender, KU Leuven

Dr Sarah Bulmer, University of Exeter

Olimpia Burchiellaro, University of Westminster


Dr Rosalind Carr, University of East London

Dr Veronique Chance, Anglia Ruskin University

Dr Catherine Charrett, Queen Mary University of London

Dr Simon Choat, Kingston University

Dr Alex Christoyannopoulos, Loughborough University

Dr Chris Clarke, University of Warwick

Rosalie Clarke, NTU

Dr Thomas Clément Mercier, King’s College London

Professor Cynthia Cockburn, Retired

Lydia Cole, Aberystwyth University

Sam Cook, University of California, Santa Cruz

Amy Cooper, Birkbeck, University of London

Amy Corcoran, Queen Mary University of London

Clare Coultas, LSE

Thomas Cowan, King’s College London

Dr Ruth Craggs, King’s College London

Dr Rhys Crilley, University of Warwick

Dr Giran A. Cutanda, University of Granada


Ida Danewid, LSE

Kelcy Davenport, Anglia Ruskin University

Lou Dear, University of Glasgow

Dr Carl Death, University of Manchester

Dr Maria del Carmen Garcia Alonso, University of Kent

Dr Helen Dexter, The University of Leicester

Sam Donaldson, Solidarity

Jack Doyle, University of Oxford

Dr Synne Dyvik, University of Sussex


Elizabeth Eade, Brighton University

Dr Cassie Earl, University of Bristol

Dr James Eastwood, Queen Mary University of London

Dr Nathan Eisenstadt, University of Bristol

Dr Emmy Eklundh, King’s College London

Professor Miriam Estrada-Castillo, United Nations University for Peace

Catrin Evans, University of Glasgow

Dr Jonathan Evershed, Queen’s University Belfast


Syada Fatima Dastagir, Birkbeck, University of London

Adam Ferhani, University of Sheffield

Peter Finn, Kingston University

Kathrin Fischer, Queen Mary University of London

Dr Adam Fishwick, De Montfort University

Matthew Flinders, UCL

Dr Ludovic Foster, Independent

Dr Maria Fotou, University of Leicester

Guillaume Foulquie, University of Worcester

Dr Sylvia C. Frain, University of Otago & University of Guam

Dr Lola Frost, War Studies, King’s College London


Dr Sol Gamsu, University of Bath

Santiago García de Leaniz, EFA European Film Academy

Craig Gent, University of Warwick

Dr Jill Gibbon, Leeds Beckett University

Professor Emily Gilbert, University of Toronto

Dr Ciaran Gillespie, University of Surrey

Dr Rebecca Gould, University of Bristol

Leslie Gonzalez, University of Bristol

Dr Uri Gordon, University of Nottingham

Chloe Gott, University of Kent

Dr Sofa Gradin, Queen Mary University of London

Dr Harriet Gray, University of Gothenburg

Savannah Green, University of York

A Gregg, Independent

Dr Thomas Gregory, University of Auckland

Dr Mark Griffiths, Northumbria University


Dr Sandy Hager, City University of London

Jo Hague, Independent

Joseph Haigh, University of Warwick

Professor Janet Hargreaves, University of Huddersfield

Dr Sophie Harman, Queen Mary University of London

Dr Jason Hart, University of Bath

Dr Lou Harvey, University of Leeds

Dr Susanna Hast, University of Helsinki

Josefin Hedlund, King’s College London

Sita Hidayah, University of Freiburg

Dr Andy Higginbottom, Kingston University

Dr Peter Hill, Christ Church, University of Oxford

Dr Michael Hirsch, STFC

Dr Aggie Hirst, Kings College London

Jennifer Hobbs, University of Manchester

Dr Stephen Hobden, University of East London

Professor Jana Hoenke, University of Groningen

Dr Alison Howell, Rutgers University

Professor Jef Huysmans, Queen Mary University of London


Dr Marta Iñiguez de Heredia, Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals


Cody Jackson, Texas Women’s University

Louisa Jane Di Felice, Autonomous University of Barcelona

Professor Christina Jarvis, State University of New York

Dr Jamie M. Johnson, University of Leicester


Dr Katharina Karcher, University of Cambridge

Dr Oliver Kearns, Independent

Dr Paul Kelemen, University of Manchester

Margareta Kern, University of the Arts London

Professor Ruth Kinna, Loughborough University

Dr Paul Kirby, University of Sussex

Dr Sara Koopman, Kent State University


Dr Daniela Lai, UCL

Imane Lauraux, Independent

Dr Andrew Law, Newcastle University

Dr Sophie Lewis, University of Manchester

Matheus Lock Santos, Queen Mary University of London

Dr Matt Lee, Free University Brighton

Iris Loukopoulos, TansActional Athens

Dr Paulette Luff, Anglia Ruskin University


Julian Mair, MCI Management Centre

Dr Nivi Manchanda, Queen Mary University of London

Dr Tracy Marafiote, State University of New York

Professor Luke Martell, University of Sussex

Dr Maria Martin de Almagro Iniesta, University of Cambridge

Nicholas Martindale, University of Oxford

Dr Rachel Massey, University of Manchester

Dr Cristina Masters, University of Manchester

Dr Lauren McCarthy, Royal Holloway University of London

Dr Trevor McCrisken, University of Warwick

Dr Kevin McSorley, University of Portsmouth

Dr John McTague, University of Bristol

Angus McNelly, Queen Mary University of London

Rasika Meena Kaushik, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Dr Akanksha Mehta, University of Sussex

Dr Isabel Meier, University of East London

Dr Katharine Millar, LSE

Colin Millen, Campaign for Unity in Practice and Self-Governance

Amanda Mills, London College of Communication

Dr Laura Mills, University of St Andrews

Dr Lara Montesinos Coleman, University of Sussex

Lena Moore, University of Cambridge

Dr Dalia Mostafa, University of Manchester

Professor Josepa Munoz, Artist


Professor Peter Newell, University of Sussex

Dr Marijn Nieuwenhuis, University of Warwick

Dr Kerem Nisancioglu, SOAS, University of London

Dr Jonna Nyman, University of Sheffield


Dr Ronan O’Callaghan, University of Central Lancashire

Dr Kieran Oberman, Edinburgh University

Dr Louiza Odysseos, University of Sussex

Sofia Olsson, University of Brighton


Dr Ajay Parasram, Dalhousie University

Dr Owen Parker, University of Sheffield

Dr Katy Parry, University of Leeds

Dr Ruth Pearce, University of Leeds

Hazel Perry, Anarchist Studies Network

Dr Simon Philpott, Newcastle University

Dr Veronique Pin-Fat, University of Manchester

Dr Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick

Dr Kandida Purnell, University of Aberdeen


Nat Raha, University of Sussex

Sanaz Raji, Unis Resist Border Controls

Dr Elisa Randazzo, University of Hertfordshire

Dr Rahul Rao, SOAS University of London

George Renshaw, Reading University

Dr Matthew Rech, Plymouth University

Henry Redwood, King’s College London

Anastasia Siniori, Westminster University

Professor Dee Reynolds, University of Manchester

Hannah Richter, University of Hertfordshire

Dr Melanie Richter-Montpetit, University of Sheffield

Dr Judith Roads, Retired

Professor Bruce Robbins, Columbia University

Dr Roberto Roccu, King’s College London

Dr Chris Rossdale, LSE

Professor Eugene E. Ruyle, California State University, Long Beach

Dr Caitlin Ryan, University of Groningen


Dr Myriam Salama-Carr, University of Manchester

Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins, University of Warwick

Paschal Somers, Coventry Justice and Peace Group

Neil Stamper, Wordpower

Lucy Stroud, Aberdeen University

Professor Paulette Swartzfager, Rochester Institute of Technology

Dr Thomas Swann, Loughborough University


Dr Meera Sabaratnam, SOAS, University of London

Dr Elke Schwarz, University of Leicester

Professor Lynne Segal, Birkbeck, University of London

Rasha Shaheen, Academy of Contemporary Music

Dr Laura J. Shepherd, UNSW Sydney

Dr Jonathan Silver, Sheffield University

Dr Tom Smith, University of Portsmouth

Dr Nick Srnicek, King’s College London

Dr Liam Stanley, University of Sheffield

Dr Anna Stavrianakis, University of Sussex

Dr Maurice Stierl, University of California Davis


Dr Henrique Tavares Furtado, University of the West of England

Dr Nicholas Taylor, Goldsmiths, University of London

Sahra Taylor, City, University of London

Diana Teggi, University of Bath

Dr Lasse Thomassen, Queen Mary University of London

Professor Charles Thorpe, University of California, San Diego

Dr Joanna Tidy, University of Sheffield

Dr Lisa Tilley, University of Warwick

Dave Tinham, Kingston University

Dr Rebecca Tipton, University of Manchester

Dr Alen Toplisek, Queen Mary University of London


Dr Cornelis van der Haven, Ghent University

Mijke van der Drift, Goldsmiths, University of London

Sara Van Goozen, University of Manchester

Tom Vaughan, Aberystwyth University

Professor Stellan Vinthagen, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Eliana Voutsadakis, London Southbank University


Dr Dereck Wall, Goldsmiths College

Dr David Wearing, Royal Holloway University of London

Alister Wedderburn, King’s College London/Australian National University

Dr Julia Welland, University of Warwick

Dr Ben Whitham, De Montfort University

Professor Annick Wibben, University of San Francisco

Dr Jeremy Wildeman, University of Bath

Dr Joanie Willett, University of Exeter

Dr Al Williams, Rewilding Wales

Dr Elisa Wynne-Hughes, Cardiff University


Jakub Zahora, Charles University, Prague

Dr Chris Zebrowski, Loughborough University


Cross posted from The Disorder of Things


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