The Entangled Activist is the story of how activism is entangled in the problems it seeks to solve, told by a hard-hitting campaigner who learns to see activism very differently. After years of thinking that her task was to ‘get the bastards,’ campaigner, writer and reporter Anthea Lawson came to see that activism often emerges from the same troubles it is trying to fix, and that its demons, including righteousness, saviourism, burnout and treating other people badly, can be a gateway to understanding the depth of what really needs to change.
Drawing on her own experience, critical analysis and interviews with leading activists, Lawson probes our attempts to change the world to offer a timely, eye-opening vision for transformative work. By considering how unexamined shadows and assumptions impede well-intentioned goals, and how campaigners are caught up in the very systems and ideologies they seek to alter, she dismantles hierarchies that have shaped the field for too long.
The Entangled Activist is a profound call to acknowledge our entanglement with the world. To those sceptical of ‘activism’, it offers possibilities for action beyond righteous reactivity. And to those who so want to help, it unearths a different starting place, one where transforming ourselves is inherently part of transforming the world.
'An essential manual for getting better both at activism and being human'
Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking
Advance Praise for
The Entangled Activist
Published by Perspectiva Press on 30th June 2021
A book of liberating honesty that speaks to the need in our times to move from the splashy end of the pool where much activism necessarily begins, and learn to swim, and then to dive, and even how to breathe underwater.
Alastair McIntosh, co-author of Spiritual Activism and Riders on the Storm
Anyone who wants to change the world, or considers themselves an ‘activist’ please read this book for your own sake and for all of us – then we’ll have so much more chance of succeeding.
Dr Gail Bradbrook, co-founder, Extinction Rebellion
We need activism today more than ever, to heal our widening divisions, rein in abusive power, and mend the natural fabric. But activism without reflection can never succeed. Anthea Lawson understands from her own experience what this means on the front line. She knows the activist must ask not only "what am I going to say?" but also "how do I want to be heard?". This is a manifesto for reflective activism. Anyone who wants to make things better through effective public action should read it.
John Ashton, independent activist and former diplomat
It is incredibly unusual that a psychologically informed book can be so practical and timely. Addressing the inner life of activists, including the shadow aspects of political passion, will make it easier for those who fear engagement to make the moves towards action. Shadow is there in the self-congratulation and that twinned contempt for people who are outside. The elitism – for that is what it is – of some activism is challenged with compassion and diplomacy. More profoundly, the book bridges the gap between those who act and those who reflect and analyse, between those who ‘do’ and those who ‘be’, in a unique way that itself links psyche and polis.
Professor Andrew Samuels, author of The Political Psyche
The Entangled Activist is compelling reading. Anthea Lawson addresses a great paradox and a deep dilemma which many activists face when they are engaged in social or environmental activism. She addresses it with clarity and audacity, and while analysing the problem she is also indicating the solution which is intrinsic within the problem. I have hugely benefited by reading this book and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to all my fellow activists and would-be activists. This book is asking the reader to be courageous to embrace the paradox, appreciate the dilemma and then move forward with one’s own insights, wisdom and commitment. The book is an outstanding contribution in the field of activism.
Satish Kumar, Editor Emeritus, Resurgence & Ecologist
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