Speaker: Dr Anna Bernard (KCL)
Resources for International Solidarity: Palestine and South Africa on Camera
This paper compares the consciousness-raising strategies of anti-apartheid and Palestine solidarity documentaries released in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, including Some of the Palestinians (1976), You Have Struck a Rock! (1981), Occupied Palestine (1981),Who Are the Palestinians? (1983), and Witness to Apartheid (1986). These films emerge at a crucial juncture in the general shift, from the 1970s onward, from third-worldist and liberationist ideas of solidarity to civil society and humanitarian approaches. I argue that these films respond to the organizational needs of their particular moment by negotiating between these conflicting notions of what it means to be in solidarity, a strategy that remains in evidence in contemporary forms of international solidarity activism. They thus have important resonances with, and lessons for, cultural activism in our present moment.
Speaker: Dr James Graham (Middlesex)
Speaker: Dr Michael Niblett (Warwick)
King Coal and Emperor Oil: Striking Energies in Proletarian Fiction
Focusing on the coal and oil industries, this paper will compare literary representations of the 1926 General Strike in Britain and the Trinidad labour riots and stoppages of 1937. These strikes mark a transitional period in which the nineteenth-century “expansionary cycle of the global coal system” came to an end and oil began to establish itself as the dominant energy source powering the world-economy (Podobnik). Through an analysis of such writers as Sid Chaplin, Lewis Jones, and Ralph de Boissière, the paper will consider the relationship between narrative form, the energies unleashed by mass collective action, and the role played by the restructuring of the coal and oil frontiers in the development of the capitalist world-ecology.
Speaker: Dr Kerstin Oloff (Durham)
Sugar to Oil: The Ecology of George A. Romero’s Zombie Movies
With George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), the zombie enters the age of petro-modernity. In its first incarnation as a figure of Haitian folklore, it encapsulated the plantation experience of the forceful integration into the global market, speaking to separation of the mass of the enslaved population from the land as source of food. Its transposition into the US imperial imaginary during the occupation of Haiti (1915-34) did not change this underlying logic and one may argue that it is only in 1968 that the figure underwent a fundamental symbolic revolution. This is reflected in the figure itself, as well as in the way in which nature-society relations are reconfigured in a U.S. dominated petro-world.
With papers by Benjamin Westwood (University of Oxford) and Emelia Quinn (Centre for Modern Studies)