Dar el-Odaba: Afro-Asian Writers Remapping Blackness and Afro-Arab Identities
MetadataShow full item record
Inspired by the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement's declaration of anti-colonial political and economic unity, the Permanent Bureau of Afro-Asian Writers was formed during the 1958 Conference for Afro-Asian Writers that gathered novelists, poets and playwrights from across Asia and Africa in Tashkent. The Bureau devoted itself to cultural resistance as a tool of revolution. In the interest of turning its members' talents for writing into a tactic for independence, the Bureau decided at its second conference in Cairo (1962) to produce a literary magazine intended to serve, "the cause of national liberation and the struggle for freedom, independence and human dignity." Initially entitled Afro-Asian Writings , the magazine was renamed Lotus when the Permanent Bureau of Afro-Asian Writers moved its headquarters from Colombo to Cairo. Gauging from the letters to the editor between 1972 (the first year they appeared) through 1978, the readers of Lotus hailed from major urban centers in the United States and Canada, Russia, Georgia, Ethiopia, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, Ghana and other countries through Africa and Asia. It is in the pages of this forgotten magazine, this relic of an unspoken black internationalism and overt quest for Afro-Asian cultural unity, that reveal the ideological shifts of the anti-colonial movement and the tools with which to map it. This project seeks to identify within Lotus the loss of anti-colonial Third World unity as it played out politically within the NAM, as well as its potential implications for the revolutions of 2011. It is therefore likely that Black Studies and Arab American Studies, as they both strive to become more transnational in content, share quite a few goals in terms of their scholarly and social justice aims. This project builds on the Afro-Arab-Asian comparative work produced by Ali Mazrui, Nadine Naber, Suheir Hammad, Vijay Prashad, Manning Marable and Rashid Khalidi in the past twenty years that must be engaged in order to strengthen ethnic studies fields and open up the space for truly comparative and global study of racial classifications beyond the Western world. These scholars have all articulated nuanced understandings of the complications of racializing Arabs in the West and in SWANA as though they have been produced within U.S. based racializations.