Revolutionary Papers

Revolutionary Papers is a transnational research collaboration exploring 20th century periodicals of Leftanti-imperial and anti-colonial critical production. Read More

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Presented by

Hana Morgenstern
21 February 2022

What can a textual artifact such as a journal’s table of contents tell us about a particular literary culture?  Quite a lot, it turns out, when one begins to excavate the political and cultural networks and practices of a period that are revealed therein. In this tool we will take a closer look at a […]

al-Jadid and al-Ittihad

Anticolonial Cultural Reconstruction: Periodicals in the Aftermath of Colonial Violence

My talk will look at the literary and cultural journal as a vehicle in the (re)construction of culture, literature and popular education in the aftermath of colonial destruction. I will focus on the 1950-60’s anticolonial activities of two Palestinian periodicals, al-Jadid and al-Ittihad, while offering frames and queries that can be applied to post and anticolonial periodicals on a broader scale.

As in other contexts, anticolonial periodicals were formed in Palestine/Israel in response to colonial destruction. The magazine and newspaper at hand functioned as forums to redress the ravaged cultural landscape through the development of local culture and literature, historical and cultural thought, popular education, collective self-definition, mobilization and political awareness. In the absence of state or institutional support, such literary production took on a central position, providing a space for collective development and facilitating regional and international exchange networks. Periodicals provided alternatives to the publishing route that ran through mainstream venues and publishing houses. They nurtured local culture through the publication of local writers, the transmission of key issues and debates, anticolonial literary gatherings, networks and mentorship, the translation of literatures, and the exposure of readers to international progressive literatures. I will examine the periodical’s table of contents as an archival record that helps us trace the phases and programs of literary and cultural reconstruction.  I will also discuss the major activities that were central to oppositional periodical culture in Palestine/Israel, emphasizing the dynamic relationship between cultural organizing through intellectual clubs and events, communication with the international anti-colonial and socialist literary scenes through translation and exchange, and the nurturing and mentorship of new writers and artists through publication and dialogue.

Hana Morgenstern

Dr Hana Morgenstern is a scholar, writer and translator. She is University Lecturer in Postcolonial and Middle East Literature at Cambridge University and a Fellow at Newnham College.