Heather McRobie

Editor, openDemocracy 5050

Location icon United Kingdom

Editor of openDemocracy's 5050. Novelist and journalist: Middle East, Balkans, Eastern Europe and Arctic. Bylines in Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, New Statesman and openDemocracy.

Portfolio
openDemocracy
10/30/2014
Frozen progress: beyond the egg-freezing debate

Behind the headlines of Silicon Valley companies offering female employees the chance to freeze their eggs lie more fundamental unresolved questions of gender in the workplace - and the role of work in our lives.

openDemocracy
10/06/2014
The common factor: sexual violence and the Egyptian state, 2011-2014

The 'epidemic' levels of sexual harassment and sexual assault of women in Egypt have been a defining feature of the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period, extensively documented by activists and civic initiatives working to mitigate against it, yet a phenomenon that has persisted for the last three years since the revolution.

alaraby
11/14/2015
Libya's continued fracturing rests on failed transitional justice

Comment: The faltering UN-sponsored peace plan can still bring Libya back from the brink, but the country's future is bleak unless it can comprehensively process its past, writes Heather McRobie. As the UN-sponsored peace plan for Libya faltered this month, the country risks splintering further.

alaraby
08/14/2015
Egypt, where human rights are a 'threat' to security

Comment: A lawsuit to expel Human Rights Watch is latest move by Sisi supporters to depict any criticism as sympathetic to 'terrorists' and a national threat, says Heather McRobie. File this under "obvious statements you never thought would need to be written", but Human Rights Watch does not support the Muslim Brotherhood.

openDemocracy
12/02/2014
"It takes broken bones": authoritarianism and violence against women in Hungary

Right-wing discourse in Hungarian politics is matched by the government's regressive handling of gender issues, as structural violence against the socially marginalised interplays with violence against women. Authoritarianism is never good news for women - as citizens or as the structurally more marginalised gender - and Hungary's continued shift away from democracy and upholding human rights under the right-wing Fidesz government is mirrored by its regressive backsliding on gender equality.

Souciant
Ukraine in Half-Sentences

'When talking about Ukraine, the Western left rarely talks about the Ukrainians'. These words, spoken by a Ukrainian expatriate in London, have resonated since the start of the crisis, as those of all political sympathies or none have formed convictions and preconceptions on where they should stand.

alaraby
08/14/2015
Sexual violence is a central weapon of war

Rukmini Callimachi's article for the New York Times last week documented how the Islamic State has constructed a "theology of rape". Callicmachi detailed how the group began to institute systematic sexual slavery after the capture of Yazidis around Mount Sinjar in August 2014, and have since sought to "justify the practice to its internal audience".

alaraby
11/14/2015
Sisi and Cameron: An ugly alliance forged in Britain

Comment: British leaders won't let the trivial matter of Cairo's human rights abuses and state-sponsored massacres of political opponents get in the way of business, writes Heather McRobie. So Egypt's president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is, it seems, on his way to London. By the time you read this, he may already be here.

the Guardian
09/22/2015
Do women need to swing right to get ahead in politics?

The announcement of Corbyn's first appointments for shadow cabinet caused an early rift between some feminists and Corbyn supporters - tricky, given that there is a large overlap between the two groups.

alaraby
08/14/2015
The Economist, Suez and Sisi's cynical PR campaign

Comment: The Economist's 'special edition' presenting the Suez Canal expansion as Egypt's "gift to the world" cannot cover up the violence upon which Sisi's rule operates, writes Heather McRobie.

Novara Wire
6 Things You Need To Know About Recent Protests in Bosnia

1.These are protests for social justice and against corruption, privatisation, and the political status quo. The 2014 protests are born of a frustration which takes aim in particular at those politicians who have exploited the post-war structure to further their own interests. The specific catalyst for recent unrest has been botched and unaccountable privatisations, and [...]

openDemocracy
09/15/2014
Letter from Odessa

Потеряв работу, среднестатистический житель Грузии скорее обратится к помощи семьи и друзей, чем пойдет в профсоюз. Критиковавшие власть самарские блогеры признаны бандой и арестованы Первый в истории России случай массового ареста блогеров за вымогательство с героев их публикаций. Почему в России популярность генсека настолько высока в 2015 году?

Novara Wire
6 Things the Mubarak Trial Means for Egypt and the Revolution

A judge's decision to throw out the charges against Mubarak for his role in the deaths of hundreds of protesters during the February 2011 Egyptian revolution was unsurprising, and President Sisi's response was revealing - but it does not mean "the end of the Arab Spring." 1.

Precariouseurope
09/20/2014
Breaking the old narratives of Bosnia

A discussion with two young Bosnians involved in the under-reported protests this year against the corrupt post-war regime. In February of this year, popular protests originating in the northern industrial city of Tuzla quickly spread across Bosnia and Herzegovina, leading to what the Bosnian government dismissed as "rioting" by " hooligans " but which many citizens saw as 'Bosnia's Spring.'

Uni-graz
11/20/2015
Bosnia is no model for Ukrainian peace

An unfortunate narrative has captured the discourse on the crisis in Ukraine, as political solutions to end the conflict and Russian incursion are sought. Many commentators have ruminated that a 'Dayton-style solution' or the 'Bosnian model' be implemented in Ukraine as a means to end the violence and embrace decentralized, regional based federalism where Kiev could not impose their will on the ethnic Russians in the east, while maintaining a still ostensibly unified Ukrainian state.

LRB blog
10/30/2013
Heather McRobie: Yugoslavia's First Lady

Jovanka Broz, the former first lady of a nation state that no longer exists, died in Belgrade on 20 October, aged 88. Tito's widow received a state funeral and was buried with full military honours. But she lived the second half of her life in isolation, and by the time she died had been all [...]

Freewordcentre
Briefing Notes: Culture on the frontline

By Heather McRobie on 26/8/14 In this month's Briefing Notes, Heather McRobie explores practical examples of what happens to culture in war: from the birth of Sarajevo's film festival in the middle of the siege, to a protest in Ukraine which was made the subject of an exhibition while it was still taking place.

Novara Wire
6 Things You Need To Know About Recent Protests in Bosnia

1.These are protests for social justice and against corruption, privatisation, and the political status quo. The 2014 protests are born of a frustration which takes aim in particular at those politicians who have exploited the post-war structure to further their own interests. The specific catalyst for recent unrest has been botched and unaccountable privatisations, and [...]

openDemocracy
07/16/2014
Sonja Karadzic can't help her surname, but she can help her politics

The news that Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic, daughter of Radovan Karadzic, has been chosen as a Republika Srpska parliamentary candidate in the 2014 election comes as Bosnia and Herzegovina is at a crossroads, in a year that has seen significant popular protests quickly followed by devastating regional floods.

Aljazeera
Bosnia: Remembering the Srebrenica massacre

Last week, more than 15,000 people attended the burial ceremony of 175 men and boys who were killed during the Srebrenica genocide, on July 11-13, 1995. The ceremony at the Potocari memorial centre, down the road from the town of Srebrenica, marked the 19th anniversary of the genocide.

openDemocracy
05/07/2014
The evolution of Bosnia's protest movement: an interview with Jasmin Mujanović

The protests that swept across Bosnia earlier this year, and then transformed into citizens' 'plenums', briefly made international headlines, but were soon after declared by some Balkan analysts to be 'over' almost as soon as they had begun. Jasmin Mujanović explains the protests and citizens' discontent in the country, and that the citizens' demands for 'accountability and dignity' is ongoing.

Indexoncensorship
Academia in Egypt: Security forces and self-censorship

The corrosion of academic freedom of expression in post-revolutionary Egypt continues By Heather McRobie / 15 April 2014 Since the military-backed overthrow of Mohamed Morsi's government last summer, censorship of journalism in post-revolutionary Egypt has become an urgent concern of human rights and freedom of expression organisations.

openDemocracy
07/01/2014
What should we do about Radovan Karadžić's poetry?

In April 2009, PEN Slovakia, an organisation which campaigns on behalf of persecuted writers and in favour of free expression, issued a statement condemning the publication in a Slovakian journal of a poem by Radovan Karadžić. One important facet of any understanding of literary freedom is the concept of the limits, which are framed in terms of 'hate speech'.

openDemocracy
Trojan Women in the twenty first century: women in war from Euripides to Syria

Last December, a small group of volunteers organised a production of 'Trojan Women' with female Syrian refugees now living in Jordan. Heather McRobie speaks to two of the organisers about how art speaks to those who have survived conflict, and the significance of 'Trojan Women' in a modern context of women's experiences of war.

openDemocracy
03/20/2014
Still 'Our Man in Havana': foreign policy reporting's elitism problem

Sarah Kendzior, a researcher specialising in Central Asia, wrote a column for Al Jazeera yesterday on the way in which foreign policy (in the broad sense of politics, think tanks, and research on foreign policy in America) is dominated by the structurally privileged, with white men of the global elite taking up most of the platforms which keep us informed about, and which analyse, urgent global events, from Ukraine to China to climate change.

Foreign Policy
11/14/2015
War and Purgatory

Bosnia and Syria are often mentioned in the same breath - and in particular by Sarajevans, who see in horrors such as the siege of Aleppo a re-enactment of their memories of the city-siege in the 1990s.

openDemocracy
03/25/2014
Listen to Bosnia's plenums

Reflective of a certain sardonic sense of humour is a Youtube video clip which began circulating amongst Bosnians on social media in recent weeks - a re-working of Pharrell Williams' 2014 hit 'Happy' that has been set to accompanying scenes of Bosnian riots, protests, and clashes with police.

openDemocracy
03/06/2014
Gender violence in the media: elusive reality

The death of Reeva Steenkamp has highlighted the problematic way in which the media treat the issue of domestic violence. We need a better way to transmit and therefore tackle the reality - how violence is built into our lives and how space is gendered, says Heather McRobie.

openDemocracy
11/07/2013
She Left Me the Gun: on story-telling and re-telling

In building a warm and complex portrait of her mother throughout the course of She Left Me the Gun , writer and journalist Emma Brockes explains at one point that a core belief of her South African-born mother was that it is not what happens to you that matters so much as the story you choose to tell about it afterwards, "if only to yourself".

Newstatesman
03/08/2012
Andrić Grad: the broken bridge of the Balkans

It has been a long road for the Burmese. As the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) received news of its landslide victory in national elections, thousands gathered outside the party's headquarters in Rangoon.

openDemocracy
10/07/2013
Slavenka Drakulić: violence, memory, and the nation

Writer and journalist Slavenka Drakulić reflects on the use of sexual violence in war, the psyche in conflict, and the gap between official history and personal memory in the former Yugoslavia. Heather McRobie: Filmmaker Jasmila Zbanic's new film, 'For Those Who Can Tell No Tales', is set in Bosnia in the 2010s and refers to "the endangered memory of the Visegrad massacre".

openDemocracy
05/02/2011
Blood, birthright and belonging: Obama's birth certificate and the royal wedding

Don't ever let anyone tell you that we're living in enlightened times. Two of the major news headlines this week, echoing around the globe (because, from the many millions around the world who watched the wedding, there's no denying we're globalised, just not enlightened) seemed joined beneath the surface by a potent thread: blood.

openDemocracy
05/02/2011
Blood, birthright and belonging: Obama's birth certificate and the royal wedding

Don't ever let anyone tell you that we're living in enlightened times. Two of the major news headlines this week, echoing around the globe (because, from the many millions around the world who watched the wedding, there's no denying we're globalised, just not enlightened) seemed joined beneath the surface by a potent thread: blood.

openDemocracy
08/18/2013
From Morsi to Sisi: the evolution of targeting journalists in Egypt

One of the only consistencies in Egypt, from the Mubarak era through to the SCAF period to Morsi's rule to the tumultuous summer of 2013, has been encroachments on press freedom and attacks on journalists. But there have been subtle shifts in how journalists have been targeted, and attacks are becoming more systematic.

Salon
09/07/2012
How to screw up in Arabic

Twenty-seven doesn't feel old enough to have spent a very long time doing anything, and accounting for a few decades' worth of life still seems like something too grown-up for me to ever be capable of.

the Guardian
05/03/2011
Canada's political landscape rearranged | Heather McRobie

For all its faults (and I'm in favour of electoral reform, for what it's worth), at least you think you know where you stand with the first past the post system. You get majority governments, with the executive dominating the legislature, and stable (or stagnant) two-party systems, concentrating power overwhelmingly in the hands of the few.

The-tls
Martha without Ernest | TLS

Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis I t seems fair to say Martha Gellhorn would have hated Hemingway & Gellhorn, the HBO series broadcast last year, about her life and marriage to Ernest Hemingway - even down to the fact that his name comes first on the billing.

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