The Entangled Activist: Learning to recognise the master’s tools

by Anthea Lawson

The Entangled Activist is the story of how activism is entangled in the problems it seeks to solve, told by a hard-hitting campaigner who learns to see activism very differently. After years of thinking that her task was to ‘get the bastards,’ campaigner, writer and reporter Anthea Lawson came to see that activism often emerges from the same troubles it is trying to fix, and that its demons, including righteousness, saviourism, burnout and treating other people badly, can be a gateway to understanding the depth of what really needs to change.

Drawing on her own experience, critical analysis and interviews with leading activists, Lawson probes our attempts to change the world to offer a timely, eye-opening vision for transformative work. By considering how unexamined shadows and assumptions impede well-intentioned goals, and how campaigners are caught up in the very systems and ideologies they seek to alter, she dismantles hierarchies that have shaped the field for too long.

The Entangled Activist is a profound call to acknowledge our entanglement with the world. To those sceptical of ‘activism’, it offers possibilities for action beyond righteous reactivity. And to those who so want to help, it unearths a different starting place, one where transforming ourselves is inherently part of transforming the world.

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‘A book of liberating honesty’

– Alastair McIntosh, co-author of Spiritual Activism and Riders on the Storm

‘This book is medicine’

– Bayo Akomolafe, Ph.D., author of These Wilds Beyond our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity’s Search for Home

‘Please read this book for your own sake and for all of us’

– Dr Gail Bradbrook, co-founder, Extinction Rebellion

‘A manifesto for reflective activism’

– John Ashton, independent activist and former diplomat


Anthea Lawson is an activist and writer who has campaigned to shut down tax havens, prevent banks from facilitating corruption and environmental devastation, and control the arms trade.

At Global Witness, she launched a campaign that changed the rules on secret company ownership and resulted in new laws in dozens of countries.

She trained as a reporter at The Times, and studied history at Cambridge, graduating with a first. Learn more about her at