Anna Bernard on International Solidarity and World Literature

Anna Bernard

Abstract: This paper explores the idea of an internationalist world literature by engaging English-language poetry anthologies that were circulated within the Nicaragua, anti-apartheid, and Palestine solidarity movements in the 1970s and early ‘80s. The anthology has long been a major vehicle for the circulation of world literature; likewise, these internationalist anthologies were aimed at a readership outside the texts’ nation of origin and made use of a transnational sub-genre, the protest poem. Yet these texts crossed borders in pursuit of national outcomes: they sought to persuade potential allies elsewhere to support a national liberation struggle within the colonial or semi-colonial state. The anthologies represent a transient moment in the history of international solidarity with such struggles; the Sandinistas would lose control of Nicaragua after a decade, and the dominant expression of north-south affiliation with South Africa and Palestine would give way to solidarity based on humanitarian feeling rather than ideological commitment. The internationalist imagination they put forward comes to seem especially precarious, as forms of transnationalism that bypass the nation have proved more amenable to the current global order, and to current formulations of the idea of world literature.

Dr Anna Bernard is Senior Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature at King’s College London, where she teaches courses on Palestinian and Israeli literature, world literature, and literature and political movements. She is the author of Rhetorics of Belonging: Nation, Narration, and Israel/Palestine (2013) and co-editor of Debating Orientalism (2013) and What Postcolonial Theory Doesn’t Say (2015), as well as a number of articles on the international representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She is currently working on a book called International Solidarity and Culture.

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