International Solidarity in World Literature, 7 December 2016, SOAS

This paper explores the idea of an internationalist world literature by returning to a previous moment in world literary history. It examines a selection of English-language poetry anthologies that were circulated within the anti-apartheid and Palestine solidarity movements in Britain in the 1970s and early 1980s. These anthologies crossed national borders with a particular organisational purpose: they set out to fortify existing movement activists and galvanise new ones, on the basis of a common ideology which produced its own shared set of literary values, among them an emphasis on documentary realism and an aesthetics of revolution. At the same time, however, these texts came out of ‘belated’ national liberation struggles, and the notion of solidarity they express would soon give way to solidarity based on humanitarian feeling rather than ideological commitment. The internationalist imagination put forward by the texts thus comes to seem especially precarious, as other forms of literary border-crossing have proved more amenable to the current global order.

Dr Anna Bernard‘s research sits at the intersection of postcolonial studies and Middle Eastern literary and cultural studies. She is particularly interested in the literature and culture of Israel/Palestine, the international circulation of Arabic and Hebrew literature in translation, and transnational cultural advocacy and activism. Her first book, Rhetorics of Belonging: Nation, Narration and Israel/Palestine (Liverpool University Press, 2013), examines the diverse ways in which Palestinian and Israeli writers have responded the expectation that their work will “narrate” the nation. Her current book project, International Solidarity and Culture, considers the uses of literature and culture in major international solidarity movements after 1975. The book sets out to restore the link between political cultural production and organised left movements, and to examine the role that cultural production associated with such movements has played in defining what is meant by political belief in the postcolonial and late/post-Communist era.

This podcast took place for the MULOSIGE project on 7th December 2016 at SOAS.