Kika Sroka-Miller is a co-owner and director of Zed Books, an independent non-fiction publishing house based in London and the world’s biggest publishing collective. Joining Zed Books in 2010, she held the role of editorial director for five years before becoming brand and growth director. Prior to Zed Books she held several positions across the industry, working for Jacqui Small LLP and RICS as well as for a number of NGOs.
At the FutureBook Live conference on 30th November, Sroka-Miller will be discussing Zed's unique business model and workplace culture on the panel 'Empowered, Itinerant and Automated: the Workplace in 2025.'
Here she shares five things inspiring her to think and work differently right now.
Hardware: I’m impatiently waiting for my iPhone XS Max to be delivered to the office. I’m not in denial: my iPhones are an extension of my self. I find it astounding that in just one generation we’ve managed to build a material and cultural reality that is completely dependent on digital technology. What I am conveniently ignoring however, apart from Apple and Google’s continued conditioning of me, is what life on the outskirts of Shenzen City is like for millions of Chinese workers, what lithium mining is like, what yet another satellite orbiting the Earth means and what it might mean for us to continue building this reality, knowing that not everyone is able to access it. And yet here I am, waiting to peel another thin layer of plastic off another device.
Software: WhatsApp - carrier of the worst elements of my data-self, destroyer and builder of relationships, courier of flashes of genius and nudes alike - without which I would be so much less effective. The ability to be in touch with professional contacts and an instant later be chatting to family across three continents is a curious thing, both nightmarish and utopian. Luckily for me, anxieties around the merging of personal self and working self apply far less in the kind of project that Zed is.
Book: I just read Jacqueline Rose’s Mothers: Essays on Love and Cruelty. In it she invites her readers to think about what kind of relationships, society and politics might be possible if we all imagined what it would be like to be a mother. This is dangerous feminist territory - after all, the idea that motherhood is the ultimate fulfilment of womanhood is something that as feminists we’ve fought against for decades. But Rose’s point is more nuanced. Her ‘imagine being a mother’ means imagine being expected to carry the burden of everything that is hardest to comprehend about our (Western, capitalist, hetero-patriarchal) society and selves, whilst also being a scapegoat for our personal and political failings. My work is political work and the sad fact of the matter is that right now the rights of women, queers and people of colour are being reversed almost everywhere. Mothers is giving me another lens through which to think about individual and collective responsibility.
Idea: That there exists a future in which we articulate the relationship between individual and collective effectively. That experiments in alternative forms of living, working and thinking are needed now more than ever. That queerness has very little to do with identity or sexual orientation and that queering as an anti-normative project is essential to a more just future. Is that too abstract? How about using ISCCs to get all Zed’s banned content out to where it needs to be instead, then?
Person: Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Sharice Davids, Deb Haaland, Jared Polis and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are all fuelling my belief that us Millennials can and will change the face of Western politics. Gayatri Spivak is reminding me about the nuances of intersectionality and identity politics whilst David Morrow’s artwork is reminding me that “A change of rulers is the joy of fools”. Robyn Van Gyn and Chloe Kim’s snowboarding is reminding me about discipline. AI Anchor is reminding me that soon our understanding of intelligence will have been reduced to the capacity for calculation, and that our inner lives will become obsolete - so I should probably repent whilst I’ve still got the chance.