Literaturforum im Brecht-Haus Berlin, February 22/23, 2024
In her public performance All memories flow into the sea (and out again), the artist Adi Liraz and further participants walk to the Sonnenblumenhaus in Rostock-Lichtenhagen to commemorate the pogrom of 1992 on the occasion of its upcoming day of rememberance. Liraz reads poems by Semra Ertan, May Ayim and Rose Ausländer - authors who have been affected by racist violence in different ways. This performance, as a current example of literary solidarity and practiced public opposition, easily finds historic correspondences: Black people who publish in Jewish magazines about the similarities and differences between anti-black racism and antisemitism; Jewish orientalists and writers who use the historical narrative of convivencia in Muslim al-Andalus to oppose both anti-Muslim racism and antisemitism; Refugees from National Socialism who translate and publish African-American literature – not to mention the many other forms of (anti-Slavic, antiziganist etc.) racism.
Departing from such examples, we want to discuss literary solidarity and forms and practices of anti-racist alliances in the next workshop organised by Undercurrents - Forum für linke Literaturwissenschaft in cooperation with Literaturforum im Brecht-Haus in Berlin. We ask for contributions that explore the question of how and by what means the production, distribution and reception of literature opens up perspectives for common resistance and solidary alliances between groups affected by racism. The focus may be, for example, on the question of how collaborative writing and shared narratives open up resonance spaces for joint emancipation processes of different racialised groups both historically and currently. We propose the following approaches and questions, among others:
1. With Michael Rothberg's concept of Multidirectional Memory (Rothberg 2009), the negotiation of the relationship between the memory of various violent and genocidal manifestations of racism has increasingly gained recognition in (literary) scholarship. Following Rothberg's focus on forms of remembrance, we invite suggestions that deal with the creative role of literature as a formative medium in cultures of remembrance, whether in line with the concept of multidirectional memory and its non-exclusive model of public remembrance or in critical examination of this approach, present for example, in the plea for an anti-fascist internationalism by Kékesi/Zombory (2023) or by Monika Albrecht (2022) in recourse to Orkun Ertener's novel Lebt (2014) and the concept of Entangled History. Collaborative writing of new narratives is not only possible in fiction. The form of the essay, to which processuality is intrinsic, appears especially qualified, since it offers seriality in arguing and writing that can be taken up transculturally and transhistorically (notable examples are essayists such as James Baldwin, Audre Lorde or, more recently, Jenny Zhang).
2. Our workshop focuses on political alliances between different racialised groups rather than on the social and ideological commonalities of racism (such as the similiarities between anti-Chinese racism and antisemitism, etc.). Therefore, we are looking for contributions that deal with specific literary practices that foreground, articulate and problematise different forms of alliances. These alliances can be based on forms of situated universalism, as proposed, e.g., by Nora Sternfeld (2022), or on forms of non-essentialist cultural identities but those linked by the "experience of profound discontinuity" (Hall, 2021, 227). They can be framed by explorations of the potential of friendship as a political ontology, as Claude Lanzmann proposes through autobiographical reflection on his encounters with Frantz Fanon (cf. Lanzmann 2012; Sznaider 2022, 88-119). They can also adopt feminist forms of intersectionality and sisterhood, such as in Reyhan Ṣahin aka Dr. Bitch Ray's Yalla, Feminismus! (2023) or in Pinar Tuzcus and Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez' (2021) Migrantischer Feminismus in der Frauen:bewegung in Deutschland (1985–2000).
3. We invite contributions dealing with the coexistence and articulation of different concepts of racism and their influence on different literary positions and writing practices. These can range from materialistic notions of racism (Hund 2022, Sarbo 2023) to those that assume that a common anti-racist policy must start with identity. These include, for example, the practices of becoming through writing in the tradition of bell hooks (1990) or Grada Kilomba's concept of racism as embodied experience (2010). It is ultimately about the question which (literary) forms of counter-appropriation are put forward by people writing from marginalised positions. This appears particularly relevant considering the increasing interest in practices of autofictional and autotheoretical writing. In addition, we want to explore the question of how literary, lyrical and performative genres and modes (e.g. science and speculative fiction, utopias/dystopias, historical novels, but also poetry and theatre) negotiate counter-designs and solidarities between anti-racisms with their medially contingent meaning-making processes.
Proposals of approx. half a page can be sent to email@example.com until November 1, 2023. Papers of max. 3000 words must be submitted for the workshop by February 10, 2024 and will be made available to all workshop participants in advance for a joint discussion on February 22 and 23 at Literaturforum im Brecht-Haus in Berlin. The articles will be published in Undercurrents – Forum für linke Literaturwissenschaft. The editors reserve the right to select from the submitted texts.
Albrecht, Monika (2022): Shared Histories in Multiethnic Societies. Literature as a Critical Corrective of Cultural Memory Studies. In: Journal of Literary Theory Vol 16(2), 309-330.
hooks, bell (1990): Homeplace. A Site in Resistance. In: Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics. Boston: South End Press, 41-49.
Ertener, Orkun (2014): Lebt. Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer.
Hall, Stuart (2021): Cultural Identity and Diaspora. In: Selected Writings on Race and Difference. New York: Duke University Press, 257-271.
Hund, Wulf D. (2022): Marx and Haiti. Towards a Historical Materialist Theory of Racism. Berlin: LIT.
Kékesi, Zoltán/Máté Zombory (2023): Beyond multidirectional memory. Opening pathways to politics and solidarity. Memory Studies, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/17506980231176040
Kilomba, Grada (2010): Plantation Memories. Episodes of Everyday Racism. Münster: Unrast.
Lanzmann, Claude (2012): The Patagonian Hare. A Memoir. Bloomsbury: Atlantic Books.
Rothberg, Michael (2009): Multidirectional memory. Remembering the Holocaust in the age of decolonization. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
Ṣahin, Reyhan (2023): Yalla, Feminismus!. Berlin: Tropen.
Sarbo, Bafta (2023): Rassismus und gesellschaftliche Produktionsverhältnisse. Ein materialistischer Rassismusbegriff. In: Eleonora Roldàn Mendívil/Bafta Sarbo (Hrsg.): Zur Diversität der Ausbeutung. Zur Kritik des herrschenden Antirassismus. Berlin: Dietz, S. 37-63.
Sternfeld, Nora (2021): Situierter Universalismus. Warum der Partikularismus der Befreiung und der Universalismus, in den sie sich befreit, keine Gegensätze sind. In: Julian Warner (Hg.): After Europe. Beiträge zur dekolonialen Kritik. Berlin: Verbrecher, 67-92.
Sznaider, Natan (2022): Fluchtpunkte der Erinnerung. Über die Gegenwart von Holocaust und Kolonialismus. München: Hanser.
Tuzcu Pinar/Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez (2021): Migrantischer Feminismus in der Frauen:bewegung in Deutschland (1985-2000). Münster: edition assemblage.
Über Adi Liraz Performance-Lesungen: https://www.heyalma.com/for-jewish-performance-artist-adi-liraz-history-is-something-you-can-wear/