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Past Tense is a publishing project based in South London, exploring London radical history. Initially it began as the work of one person, uncovering the subversive, hidden and esoteric past around the Elephant and Castle and Southwark. As it exists now it has grown to include several individuals, autonomously following their own historical trails, publishing new texts and reviving old, out of print ones. However we also work together, for instance through the South London Radical History Group, which existed irregularly since January 2003 and 2008, as an open forum, discussing historical issues, organising history walks, inviting speakers on various topics. Our discussions have wandered across many struggles and neighbourhoods: gentrification in North Southwark, the battles to preserve green spaces in South London, anti-war movements historically and in our own experiences, the 1984-85 South London Women’s Hospital occupation, Mayday in tradition and modern times, and many more. Although we mainly met in South London, we were never bound by arbitrary borders, we've trespassed all over London at times!

While there are different interpretations of history and varying reasons for people’s interest in the past, the Past Tense crew broadly share an activist background; most of us have spent many years more or less involved in the numerous struggles of the past twenty years or more. Our interest in history is not just as an academic exercise divorced from our own time, but as relevant to current struggles and including our own experiences. History is often either repackaged and sanitised as ‘heritage’, stripped of political content and brushing over conflict, rebellion and repression with a rosy glow; or it appears academic, distant and unconnected to our every day experience. To us the past, present and future are linked by shared experiences of social relations and our attempts to change them. A knowledge of the movements, ideas and events of the past can help to shape our actions in the present and beyond...
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