Our top 10 articles of 2017

A look back at some of our favourite pieces from the past twelve months.

This year Political Critique relaunched as a fully pan-European magazine. While maintaining our focus on Central and Eastern Europe, we joined forces with European Alternatives to build new relationships with platforms from Italy, Greece, Spain and beyond, and begin working across borders on transnational stories. We covered the big issues – Corbynism, the Catalan referendum, the erosion of Polish democracy – but also made space for unheard stories, giving an international voice to local struggles against capitalism, patriarchy and nationalism.

Here are our highlights from a landmark year.

1. Poland broke my heart – Roman Broszkowski
“I want to go back to feeling I can be both Polish and Jewish”, writes Roman Broszkowski, “but Poland is making that increasingly difficult”. The main obstacle aren’t the fascists themselves. It’s Poles who watched them march in their thousands on independence day and did nothing.

2. Lycanthropy and rape culture – Victoria Mateos de Manuel

A legal process investigating the group rape of a young woman in a public square in Spain has seen the victim herself placed on trial. This angry condemnation by Victoria Mateos de Manuel situates the case within a long history of rape culture in Western society, taking us through Greek mythology and Biblical stories to the resistance of women like Virginie Despentes.

3. Cold, angry, and surrounded by chicken – Saša Uhlová

The second story from the “Heroes of Capitalist Labor” series, which brings an eye-witness account of the worst-paid jobs in the Czech Republic. In this instalment undercover reporter Saša Uhlová delved into the depths of chicken processing plant, owned by a consortium associated with billionaire businessman-politician Andrej Babiš. 

4. Nostalgia for the present in Tunis’s belle-époque downtown – Iason Athanasiadis 

Philosophical photojournalism that weaves in and out of private and public spaces, past and present, to convey the clash and overlap of temporalities in cosmopolitan Tunisia. The piece, and Iason’s related portfolio, won the ‘Special Alumni’ award at the Anna Lindh Foundation’s Mediterranean Journalist Awards 2017.

5. The fantasy of the middle class – exploitation in a Romanian call centre – Elena Chiorean

A first-hand account of working conditions and class delusions in the telecommunications department of a large multinational’s Bucharest branch. This piece was first published in Romanian on CriticAtac and won a prize from the NGO Servici’ Ușor.

6. Sexism and racism – the new Hungarian schoolbooks teach everything you don’t want your child to learn – Nóra Diószegi-Horváth

School prepares you for life, they say. If that’s true, we’re in deep trouble, for after devouring public education, the Hungarian Fidesz-KDNP government swallowed the entire schoolbook market for dessert.

7. God’s Army vs Evil Empire – Dawid Krawczyk

Our co-editor and reporter Dawid Krawczyk travelled to the places in America where more than 80% voted for Donald Trump to find out if the President is really living up to expectations. This instalment, based around a meeting with the outspoken republican campaigner Matt Stout, is a revealing insight into the distortions that are shaping public opinion in the U.S.

8. What my Father Put Inside my Vagina – Alma Lily Rainer

In an interview about her exhibition titled “What My Father Put Inside My Vagina,” named after the literal sexual abuse to which her father subjected her as a child, Alma Lily Rainer talks about sexual violence. She posits that it “is not a personal issue, it is not a women’s issue, it is a problem for society as a whole” and explains how feminism gave her a voice and the courage to speak out.

9. Afrofeminists: we can emancipate ourselves! – Andrea Olea

Meet France’s Afrofeminists, leading an intersectional fight against sexism, machismo and capitalism. These women claim their African heritage, choose non-mixed struggles and refuse to be protected by white feminism.

10. Eastern Europe according to British media: More likely to go to Italy for cappuccinos than join the ethnic fighting in Kosovo – Anna Azarova

One would think that over the years, the stereotypical Western view of Eastern Europe would’ve changed. Turns out, it hasn’t.