The Sparkplug

The Sparkplug is a catalyst for difficult conversations, going where fast headlines don’t.

Creative and artistic expression have the power to humanize political debates that are often abstract or driven by sensational media. An off-shoot of The Green Violin, The Sparkplug ranges into journalism and essays, engaging with the deeper questions of human dignity and struggle against the social orders that repress our most volatile possibilities.

Format: Simple, made for print (adapting for online as well). Printed as a 1-3 sheet broadside, usually with two articles (A-side, B-side). Also as a PDF and email. Irregular, printed whenever.

Latest: Volume #1, Issue #3

Of Purity and Autonomy: A Nation for Whom?

Excerpts: The Many Faces of Kashmiri Nationalism, by Nandita Haksar

The Seeds of Alienation: The politics of exclusion in Kashmir’s independence movement, by Lital Khaikin.

This third issue of The Sparkplug considers the challenges and contradictions that are entangled in Kashmir’s pursuit for self-determination. Included is a conversation with author and human rights lawyer Nandita Haksar, based around her research on how the nationalist movement in Jammu and Kashmir intersects with the socio-economic challenges that in turn face migrants to Northeast India.

Class struggle and caste segregation are firmly at the centre of this confrontation, around which, like vultures, circle the divisions of religion, industry, and supposed “economic development”. From the military industrial complex, to the entertainment and tourism industries, the influences of multinational capital have unfolded over decades.


Pesticides and Poverty: The smoldering legacy of Bhopal

Volume 1. December 2020 – #1.
Featuring Rahul Varma and Rohan Kulkarni.

Looking through the lens of critical documentary theatre, this issue reflects on the legacy of Union Carbide (Dow Chemical)’s disastrous gas leak in Bhopal, industrial colonialism, and “quality of life”.

Acceptable Censorship: The extradition farce and media silence on Julian Assange

Volume 1. December 2020 – #2.
Featuring Elizabeth Leier.

In the lead-up to the verdict on Assange’s extradition trial — to be announced on January 4 — The Sparkplug reiterates the importance of the Afghan War Logs as the US remains embroiled in Afghanistan.

Friendly Fire: Anti-militarism & Canadian veterans of Afghanistan

Volume 2. Winter 2021.
Featuring Scott Costen.

The Canadian left has failed to engage with the more complicated and uncomfortable gray-zones of militarism, where the Canadian Armed Forces often recruit from high-schools and the working class. Six years after Canada retreated from its ill-fated invasion of Afghanistan — fighting an enemy that was armed, trained and funded by the US — the public remains in the dark about the class struggle that pushes young people to join the military, the burden of PTSD, and the lack of social support systems for those who returned.