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Mapping the Literary Routes of “Proletarian Internationalism” in the Global South

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Organizer: Saharnaz Samaeinejad

Co-Organizer: Maziyar Faridi

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This seminar focuses on how the idea of “proletarian internationalism” haunted modern literary spheres of the Global South for decades. In particular, we are interested in papers that offer a close social reading of a modern literary work (or a literary translation) of the Global South that has provided a creative aesthetic corrective to the often abstract theorizations of this idea. Papers may engage with a multitude of literary voices including, but not limited to, Nâzım Hikmet, Pablo Neruda, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Shamlou, Nicolás Guillén, Silvina Ocampo, Kudiyirikkal Narayanan Ezhuthachan, Mahmoud Darwish, Aimé Césaire, Fatemeh Siah,Thirunalloor Karunakaran, Samar Sen, Langston Hughes, Melih Cevdet Anday, Cemâl Süreya, Hasan Âli Yücel, Can Yücel, and Badr Shakir al-Sayyab. By foregrounding the dialectics of the translatable and the untranslatable, this panel asks: What are the potentials and pains involved in translating the imaginary geography of “proletarian internationalism” from the perspective of the imperialized? In the age of universal histories, the ideal of “proletarian internationalism” presupposed absolute translatability of the idiom of the class struggle. It, indeed, hoped to transcend various forms of socio-political antagonisms and unresolved cultural conflicts that have been operative within the Global South—including various forms of domination and violence that evolved around issues of nation, race, religion, gender, ethnicity, etc. Yet under the universality of the collective identity of a revolutionary working class, living experiences of individual and collective sufferings of the victims of progress in southern contexts were reduced to a mere abstract instance.   Our panel invites speakers to attend to the fragile traces of the non-identical, untranslatable, incommensurable realities, and uneven temporalities of the societies of the Global South in works that nonetheless remained haunted by (or loyal to) the spirit of such utopian imagination of “proletarian internationalism”—i.e., the negative unity of being oppressed and dispossessed.  Finally, at the age of environmental catastrophe and globalized inequality, what new forms of international resistance could emerge from the re-reading of these literary works?  For inquiries, please contact Saharnaz Samaeinejad (saha.samaeinejad@mail.utoronto.ca) or Maziyar Faridi (m-faridi@u.northwestern.edu).  

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