Speaking Out of Place

David Palumbo-Liu

Public activism on human rights, environmental and indigenous justice, and educational liberation, with an emphasis on politics, culture, and art.  Hosted by David Palumbo-Liu and Azeezah Kanji. Produced in collaboration with The Creative Process. Website:

https://speakingoutofplace.com/
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A Palestinian Prisoner's Devastating Memoir: A Conversation with Its Publisher and Translator
Yesterday
A Palestinian Prisoner's Devastating Memoir: A Conversation with Its Publisher and Translator
Today we speak with publisher Judith Gurewich and translator Luke Leafgren about a remarkable first-person narrative by Nasser Abu Srour, a Palestinian political prisoner who in 1993 was given a life sentence. His memoir, The Tale of a Wall, tells of the author’s decades-long life in multiple prisons, moving through many historical periods and shifting personal and political lives. The one thing that is always present is the figure of the wall, that becomes his one constant companion. Gurewich and Leafgren tell how they came to acquire the text, and how they came to know this remarkable man through it. The novel itself is a stunning and moving contribution to our understanding of the Palestinian struggle for liberation.Nasser Abu Srour was arrested in 1993, accused of being an accomplice to the murder of an Israeli intelligence officer, and sentenced to life in prison. While incarcerated, Abu Srour completed the final semester of a bachelor’s degree in English from Bethlehem University, and obtained a master’s degree in political science from Al-Quds University. The Tale of a Wall is his first book to appear in English. It will be published in the United Kingdom by Allen Lane, and translations are forthcoming from Gallimard, Feltrinelli, and Galaxia Gutenberg, among others. Judith Gurewich is the publisher of Other Press, a position she has held since 2002. Under her leadership, Other Press has become a highly respected and award-winning publisher of literary fiction and non-fiction, including titles such as Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: A Life of Montaigne, Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation, and Raja Shehadeh’s We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I, a finalist for the 2023 National Book Award. Born in Canada and raised in Belgium, she holds a law degree from Brussels University as well as a master’s of law from Columbia University and a PhD in sociology from Brandeis University. She now resides in Cambridge, MA. Judith is also a Lacanian trained psychoanalyst, practicing part-time.Luke Leafgren is an Assistant Dean of Harvard College, where he is also a lecturer in Comparative Literature and teaches courses on translation. He has published seven translations of contemporary Arabic novels and received the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation in 2018 and 2023.
The Palestinian Prisoners Movement: Resistance and Disobedience
Feb 4 2024
The Palestinian Prisoners Movement: Resistance and Disobedience
Today we speak with scholar Julie Norman about her book, The Palestinian Prisoners Movement: Resistance and Disobedience. She is joined in conversation by her colleague and collaborator Amahl Bishara. Based on extensive interviews with Palestinian prisoners, Norman’s study delineates in detail and depth the centrality of the movement in the broader Palestinian national struggle. Palestinian prisoners took back the prison space for organizing and resistance, developing an internal "counterorder" to challenge authorities. We talk about how the Palestinian prisoners movement was both intertwined with the Palestinian national movement, and yet also prefigured modes of liberation beyond it.Dr Julie Norman is an Associate Professor in Politics & International Relations at University College London (UCL), and a researcher/consultant on conflict, development, and political violence. She is also the Deputy Director of the UCL Centre on US Politics (CUSP), and a Senior Associate Fellow of International Security at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).She is the author of five books and multiple articles on unarmed resistance, and she has published widely on conflict, activism, political prisoners, and political violence. She has worked as a practitioner with numerous NGOs in the Middle East and Africa, and she is a frequent commentator on the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and other media outlets.Amahl Bishara is an associate professor of Anthropology, and of Studies of Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora at Tufts University.  Bishara’s research revolves around expression, space, media, and settler colonialism. Her first book, Back Stories: U.S. News Production and Palestinian Politics (Stanford University Press 2013) is an ethnography of production of US news during the second Palestinian Intifada. It asks what we can learn about journalism and popular political action when we place Palestinian journalists at the center of an inquiry about U.S. journalism.She is currently working on two book projects. One, addresses the relationship between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank, two groups that are positioned slightly differently in relation to Israeli settler-colonialism. Her second project examines Palestinian popular politics in a West Bank refugee camp.Bishara regularly writes for such outlets as Jadaliyya, Middle East Report. She also produced the documentary "Degrees of Incarceration" (2010), an hour-long documentary that explores how, with creativity and love, a Palestinian community responds to the crisis of political imprisonment.
What Does the Recent ICJ Finding with Regard to Israel's War in Gaza Mean? A Discussion with Noura Erakat, Michael Lynk, and Maung Zarni
Jan 31 2024
What Does the Recent ICJ Finding with Regard to Israel's War in Gaza Mean? A Discussion with Noura Erakat, Michael Lynk, and Maung Zarni
Today, on Speaking Out of Place, we discuss the recent International Court of Justice ruling on the Gaza genocide case, which found that Israel is plausibly engaging in genocide in Gaza.We discuss the case and its implications, as well as the colonial backdrop of the international law behind it, with former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Michael Link, Palestinian human rights attorney, scholar, activist, and teacher Noura Erakat, and Burmese scholar and dissident in exile, Maung Zarni. We also address the recent decision of a number of countries to defund the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, which was established by the United Nations in 1949. Finally, we talk about what global civil society can and must do to effect change where international law cannot.​​Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and an Associate Professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.  She is a Co-Editor of Jadaliyya. Her book, Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2019)  narrates the Palestinian struggle for freedom as told through the relationship between international law and politics during five critical junctures between 1917-2017 to better understand the emancipatory potential of law and to consider possible horizons for the future. Erakat’s research interests include human rights law, humanitarian law, refugee law, national security law, social justice, critical race theory, and  the Palestinian-Israel conflict. Until his retirement in December 2022, Michael Lynk taught labor law, constitutional law and international and Canadian human rights law at the Faculty of Law, Western University in London, Ontario for more than 20 years.From 2016 to 2022, he served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967. He has authored and edited several books, including most recently Protecting Human Rights in Occupied Palestine: Working Through the United Nations (Clarity Press, 2022), co-authored with Richard Falk and John Dugard, and International Law and the Middle East Conflict (Routledge, 2011), co-edited with Susan Akram, Michael Dumper and Iain Scobbie.Maung Zarni is a research fellow at the (Genocide) Documentation Center - Cambodia, co-founder of FORSEA.com, a progressive activist and intellectual platform for Southeast Asian activists, and Burmese coordinator of the Free Rohingya Coalition. He has 30-years of engagement in activism, scholarship, politics, and media.  An adviser to the Genocide Watch, Zarni served as a member of the Panel of Judges in the Permanent Peoples Tribunal on Sri Lanka ('s) genocidal crimes against Eelam Tamil (2013) and was the initiator of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal on Myanmar (2017).His most recent monographs are “The Enemy of the State” speaks: Irreverent Essays and Interviews” (2019) and “Essays on Myanmar's Genocide of Rohingyas” (2018). With Uzbek-British filmmaker and war-correspondent Shahida Tulaganov, Zarni co-produced the 50-minutes educational film "Auschwitz: Lessons Never Learned" (2020) ( https://vimeo.com/469954700 ) and served as a leading expert in "EXILED: A film by Shahida Tulaganov (2017)", a historical documentary about the Rohingya genocide (https://exiledthefilm.com/) For his scholarship and activism, Zarni was recognized with the Cultivation of Harmony Award by the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2015 and shortlisted for Sweden’s Right Livelihood Award in 2018.
Listening to & Being with the Earth: A Conversation with John Borrows & Paco Calvo
Jan 27 2024
Listening to & Being with the Earth: A Conversation with John Borrows & Paco Calvo
Plants show signs of communication and of learning. They produce and respond to many of the same neurochemicals as humans, including anesthetics. They share resources with one another, and when under threat, emit signals of warning and of pain.  Today on Speaking Out of Place, we are joined in conversation with eminent Anishinaabe legal theorist John Borrows and philosopher Paco Calvo to discuss how we might learn about, learn with, and learn from our plant companions on this earth. While Borrows and Calvo both urge us to listen to the Earth, during our conversation we discover that these two thinkers are often listening for different things. The discussion reveals fascinating points of difference and commonality. And in terms of the latter, the point both John and Paco insist upon is that we maintain our separation from other beings at our peril and at a loss.BiosDr. John Borrows, BA, MA, JD, LLM, PhD, LLD, FRSC, is Canada's pre-eminent legal scholar and a global leader in the field of Indigenous legal traditions and Aboriginal rights. John holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria as well as the Law Foundation Chair in Aboriginal Justice and Governance.John teaches in the area of constitutional law, Indigenous law and environmental law. His research focuses on advancing the understanding of Indigenous laws and customs. John’s work influenced the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada has cited his research. John is Anishinabe/Ojibway and a member of the Chippewas of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario.In May 2017, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor-General of Canada, presented John with the prestigious 2017 Killam Prize in the Social Sciences for his “contributions as a global leader in Indigenous law, and substantial and distinguished scholarship and commitment to furthering our knowledge about Indigenous legal tradition.”John is the recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Law and Justice, a fellow of the Trudeau Foundation, a fellow of the Canadian Society of Arts, Humanities and Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada, Canada’s highest academic honour.In 2012, he was declared an Indigenous Peoples Counsel by the Indigenous Bar Association, for his honour and integrity in the service to Indigenous communities.Paco Calvo is a renowned cognitive scientist and philosopher of biology, known for his groundbreaking research in the field of plant cognition and intelligence. He is a professor at the University of Murcia in Spain, where he leads the Minimal Intelligence Lab (MINT Lab), focusing on the study of minimal cognition in plants. Calvo’s interdisciplinary work combines insights from biology, philosophy, and cognitive science to explore the fascinating world of plant behavior, decision-making, and problem-solving. By investigating the complex interactions and adaptive responses exhibited by plants, Paco Calvo has significantly contributed to our understanding of cognition beyond the animal kingdom, challenging conventional perspectives on intelligence and mental capacities.
Fighting the Fossil Fuel Companies' Pseudo-Economics: A Conversation with Ben Franta
Jan 22 2024
Fighting the Fossil Fuel Companies' Pseudo-Economics: A Conversation with Ben Franta
Today I speak with noted researcher and scholar Ben Franta about two new articles he has written that add to his growing archive of seminal work on climate change.  Ben tells us now the fossil fuel industry paid economists to join scientists in denying the true nature of the fossil fuel industry’s destruction of the environment. Economists argued that even if some science were correct, implementing change would be too costly. This became a powerful tool to stall and kill climate change legislation.  Franta also talks about how communities have tried to sue fossil fuel companies for damages incurred by such misinformation and disinformation. In sum, we learn about what the industry has done, and how ordinary people and municipalities can fight back.Benjamin Franta is the founding head of the Climate Litigation Lab and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford Sustainable Law Programme. The Climate Litigation Lab is a multidisciplinary research initiative to inform, enable, and accelerate climate change litigation globally. Ben is also an Associate at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School and an Associate Member of Nuffield College, Oxford.  Ben holds a JD from Stanford Law School and is a licensed attorney with the California State Bar, a PhD in History of Science from Stanford University, a separate PhD in Applied Physics from Harvard University, an MSc in Archaeological Science from the University of Oxford, and a BA in Physics and Mathematics from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He is also a former research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  He is the recipient of numerous academic and research fellowships including the Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the U.S. National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, the USAID Research and Innovation Fellowship, the University of Oxford Clarendon Scholarship, and the Coe College Williston Jones Scholarship.  His research and writing have appeared in 10 languages, been featured in the Paramount+ documentary Black Gold, been cited in the U.S. Congressional Record, and been published in numerous scholarly and popular venues including Nature Climate Change, Global Environmental Change, The Guardian, Project Syndicate, and more.
Artists, Activists, and Anarchists Seize Wetlands from the French Republic: We Learn How
Jan 13 2024
Artists, Activists, and Anarchists Seize Wetlands from the French Republic: We Learn How
Today on Speaking Out of Place, we talk with artists and activists Isabelle Frémaux and Jay Jordan about their book, We are ‘Nature’ Defending Itself: Entangling Art, Activism and Autonomous Zones Vagabonds/Pluto/Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, 2021. They tell the story of a 40-year struggle to preserve 4,000 acres of wetlands from being destroyed to make way for an airport, but the book is also a profound and beautiful meditation on what it means to live together and struggle together outside the logic of capitalist extraction and violence.Jay (formerly John) Jordan (they/them) is labelled a "Domestic Extremist" by the police, and “a magician of rebellion” by the press. Part-time author, sex worker and full time trouble maker, Jay is a lover of edges, especially between art and activism. They co-founded Reclaim the streets and the clown army.Isabelle Fremeaux (she/her) is a popular educator, facilitator, action researcher and deserter of the neoliberal academy where for a decade she was Senior Lecturer at Birkbeck College London. Co-author (with Jay) of the film/book Les Sentiers de L’utopie (2011, La Découverte), together they coordinate The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, bringing artists and activists together to co-design and deploy tools of disobedience. They live on the zad of Notre-dame-des-landes, a territory “lost to the Republic,” according to the French government.
Kohei Saito Talks About Degrowth Communism, and the Need for Radical Democracy
Jan 8 2024
Kohei Saito Talks About Degrowth Communism, and the Need for Radical Democracy
Today we speak with Japanese philosopher Kohei Saito, whose book, Marx in the Anthropocene , sold over half a million copies. In it, Saito shows how late in life Marx came to a richer sense of production when he realized that there was a law above the economic as he had conceived it—it was the law of Nature. Marx saw how disturbing Nature’s metabolism could bring about a “rift” that sent destructive ripples across human life.  Today we make the connection between that scholarly book and Kohei’s new book, Slow Down!!, which has just come out in English translation. Here he offers a sharp critique of liberal and socialist attempts to “sustain”—like the Green New Deal, and argues for a radical form of degrowth communism that de-celerates our compulsion to add more stuff into the world, in whatever form, and derails our compulsion to sustain, rather than revolutionize. Saito argues that we can lead much happier, and more healthy lives, if we emphasize use value, and revitalize democracy so we all have a hand in deciding what is valuable. Bio Kohei Saito is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tokyo. He completed his doctorate at the Humboldt University in Berlin. In 2018 he won the prestigious Deutscher Memorial Prize for Marxist research—becoming the first Japanese, and the youngest person, ever to win that prize. His books include: Slow Down! How Degrowth Communism Can Save the World (2023); Marx in the Anthropocene: Towards the Idea of Degrowth Communism (2022), Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy (2017).
Genocide and Beyond: A Conversation with Omer Bartov & Penny Green
Jan 6 2024
Genocide and Beyond: A Conversation with Omer Bartov & Penny Green
For weeks, hundreds of international law and genocide experts have been warning that the situation in Gaza is approaching or has become an active genocide, a conclusion very vociferously rejected by Israel and its allies. Today on Speaking Out of Place, we are joined by state crime expert Penny Green and Holocaust historian Omar Bartov to discuss the applicability of the term genocide, the history of its framing, and ways of moving beyond genocidal dynamics. We also talk about how the term has circulated far beyond legal circles and taken on a particular affective power in the popular imagination. We consider how this language circulates in such a way to form a basis for acts of solidarity at the level of civil society to describe the horrors that people see before them. We consider how this massive protest at the level of civil society might be a more powerful means to move leaders than the implementation of law.Omer Bartov is the Samuel Pisar Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Brown University. Born in Israel and educated at Tel Aviv University and St. Antony's College, Oxford, his early research concerned war crimes in World War II and the links between war and genocide. He has also written on representations of antisemitism in twentieth-century cinema. More recently he has focused on interethnic relations, violence, and population displacement in Europe and Palestine. His latest books include Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (2018), Tales from the Borderlands: Making and Unmaking the Galician Past (2022), and Genocide, The Holocaust and Israel-Palestine: First-Person History in Times of Crisis (2023).  He is currently writing a book tentatively titled “The Broken Promise: A Personal-Political History of Israel and Palestine,” which is dedicated to investigating the first generation of Jews and Palestinians in Israel, a generation to which he also belongs. His novel, The Butterfly and the Axe, was published in 2023 in the United States and Israel. Penny Green was born in Tasmania and educated at the Australian National University and Cambridge. She is Professor of Law and Globalisation and former Head of the Law School at Queen Mary University of London and an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.  She has written extensively on state crime theory (including her monographs with Tony Ward, State Crime: Governments, Violence and Corruption 2004 and State crime and Civil Activism: on the dialectics of repression and resistance 2019), state violence, Turkish criminal justice and politics, ‘natural’ disasters, forced evictions and resistance to state violence. She has a long record of researching in hostile environments and her most recent projects include a comparative study of civil society resistance to state crime in Turkey, Tunisia, Colombia, PNG, Kenya and Myanmar; forced evictions in Palestine/Israel and Myanmar’s genocide against the Rohingya. In 2015 she and her colleagues Thomas MacManus and Alicia de la Cour Venning published the seminal ‘Countdown to Annihilation: Genocide in Myanmar’ and in March 2018 ‘The Genocide is Over: the genocide continues’.  She is  completing a book on the Rohingya genocide. Professor Green is Founder and Director of the award winning International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) and co-editor in Chief of the international journal State Crime. She is an Adjunct Professor at Birzeit University, Ramallah and is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of NSW and Ulster University.
International Law and Mass Violence: Colonial Roots and Practices
Jan 2 2024
International Law and Mass Violence: Colonial Roots and Practices
Today on Speaking Out of Place, we are joined by Frédéric Mégret, Neve Gordon, and Nicola Perugini. As the devastation of Gaza is permitted to continue to unfold, and colonial violence also intensifies in the West Bank, we discuss the role and responsibility of international law in enabling and structuring mass violence, the enduring importance of colonial histories in shaping the colonial present of international law.In the face of the refusal or failure of domestic state law regimes and governments to confront even extreme instances of violence we often turn to international law as a panacea or at least a site of salvation and hope. And yet we know that international law not only prohibits certain forms of violence, but actually enables others, including shaped in part by its own colonial histories, perhaps no longer articulated explicitly in terms of standards of civilization, the language of savages and barbarians, but encoding a colonial and racial line in maybe more subtle, and less obvious ways.Frédéric Mégret is a Professor of Law and the holder of the Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law. Previously he was a William Dawson Scholar from 2015 to 2023, and the holder of the Canada Research Chair on the Law of Human Rights and Legal Pluralism from 2006 to 2015.Neve Gordon is a professor of human rights law at Queen Mary University of London and the Vice President of the British Society for Middle East Studies. His first book, Israel’s Occupation , provided a structural history of Israel’s mechanisms of control in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. His second book, The Human Right to Dominate was written with Nicola Perugini and examines how human rights, which are generally conceived as tools for advancing emancipation, can also be used to enhance subjugation and dispossession. Most recently, he wrote with Perugini the first book on the legal and political history of human shielding. Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire follows the marginal and controversial figure of the human shield over a period of 150 years in order to interrogate the laws of war and how the ethics of humane violence is produced. Gordon writes regularly for the popular press and his articles have appeared in The Guardian, The Los Angles Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Al Jazeera, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and The London Review of Books.Nicola Perugini's research focuses mainly on the politics of international law, human rights, and violence. He is the co-author of The Human Right to Dominate (Oxford University Press 2015), Morbid Symptoms (Sharjah Biennial 13, 2017), and Human Shields. A History of People in the Line of Fire (University of California Press 2020). Nicola has published articles on war and the ethics of violence; the politics of human rights, humanitarianism, and international law; humanitarianism's visual cultures; war and embedded anthropology; refugees and asylum seekers; law, space and colonialism; settler-colonialism.
Linking Antifascist Solidarity & Solidarity with Palestine--Guernica and Gaza
Dec 28 2023
Linking Antifascist Solidarity & Solidarity with Palestine--Guernica and Gaza
Today’s conversation is perhaps one of the most unusually important ones we have had on the podcast.  Len and Hwei-ru Tsou are two Taiwanese activists whose main commitment, over a period of decades, has been to discover and disclose the involvement of Asian and South Asian anti-fascists in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.  Not only do we discover their longstanding friendship with one of their first interviewees--Kenneth Graeber, father of celebrated anarchist David Graeber--but we also hear them linking their anti-fascist work to their pro-Palestine activism, which included their courageous participation in the flotillas protesting Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza. We hear Len and Hwei-ru draw the links between the anti-fascist struggle in Spain and the international movement for Palestinian rights. The conversation inspires and gives one hope about international solidarity in the past, and the present.Bios of Len Tsou and Hwei-Ru TsouWe are the authors of a book on the Chinese volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, in Chinese as well as in Spanish edition. Growing up in Taiwan, we came to the U.S. to pursue our graduate studies in natural sciences.  The new land provided us with space and resources for our curiosity in modern Chinese history and the cold war.  In 1973 a military coup overthrew the Chilean President Salvador Allende, a democratically elected Socialist.  It led us to pay attention to the America’s Dirty Wars. After obtaining our PhDs in Chemistry, Len worked in semiconductor field and Hwei-Ru in pharmaceutical industry. We each published numerous scientific papers and patents in our respective fields. To serve as a bridge, we founded Cultural International in 1989 to introduce to Taiwan the experiences of American people’s struggles in environment, labor and human rights.In 2002, we organized weekly peace vigil in Rockland County, NY, hoping to prevent the imminent war on Iraq from happening. The peace vigil continued for nine years. In 2011 Len joined the US Boat to Gaza challenging Israel’s blockade on Gaza.  After moving to California, we join the San Jose weekly peace vigil to continue protesting the endless wars.   In 2001 our research result was published in Taiwan as a book 《橄欖桂冠的召喚:參加西班牙內戰的中國人(1936-1939)》.  A Spanish edition “Los Brigadistas Chinos en la Guerra Civil: La LLamada de España (1936-1939)” was published in Madrid in 2013.  The revised editions were published in Chinese as 《当世界年轻的时候:参加西班牙内战的中国人(1936-1939)》 in 2013 and 2015.  Our writings can be found in The Volunteers, Science & Society, South China Morning Post Magazine (南华早报), Southern Weekend (南方周末), China Times (中國時報), and others. Our collection of photos and documents of the Chinese volunteers resulted in the travelling photo exhibitions in Spain since 2019.  Based on our book, the Phoenix Satellite TV produced a documentary 《当世界年轻的时候——国际纵队里的中国人》in 2020.
21 Voices from South Africa and Israel-Palestine Working for Palestinian Liberation
Dec 25 2023
21 Voices from South Africa and Israel-Palestine Working for Palestinian Liberation
Today I talk with Marthie Momberg, whose book 21 Voices from Israel and South Africa: Why the Palestine Struggle Matters, compiles interviews Momberg conducted over many years. Her interviewees are Israelis and South Africans who have followed different paths to become activists for Palestine. The 21 voices speak about this connection, but about many other things as well, including gender, generational difference, race, human rights, and Zionism. Taped in December during Israel’s genocidal attacks on Gaza, which have brought millions onto the streets in protest across the globe, Marthie’s book serves as a vibrant reminder of the spirit of solidarity.Marthie Momberg (PhD) is a South African activist scholar with postgraduate qualifications in theology, literature and education. In 2020 her postdoctoral research was awarded for exceptional achievement by Stellenbosch University (SU). As a researcher at SU and at Nelson Mandela University she has published many peer-reviewed publications and regularly addresses international conferences, the media and other forums including the South African Parliament. Marthie serves on the Theology Committee of Global Kairos for Justice and in 2011 monitored human rights violations in Israel and Palestine on behalf of the World Council of Churches. During her earlier career in corporate communications her work received several local and international awards, including a Gold Quill for Excellence from the International Association for Business Communicators for the best entry worldwide in the category Human Resources & Benefits Communication. Marthie is an Honorary Member and Fellow of the Frederik van Zyl Institute for Student Leadership Development.
The Moral Imperative to Divest: Conversation with Bill McKibben and Caroline Levine
Nov 22 2023
The Moral Imperative to Divest: Conversation with Bill McKibben and Caroline Levine
Today we speak with legendary climate activist Bill McKibben and scholar Caroline Levine. McKibben relates his long struggle to get companies to divest from fossil fuels and for the world in general to act immediately to seriously and substantially address this existential crisis. Levine tells of her efforts to get the giant pension fund, TIAA-CREF, to divest. She also talks about her new book, The Activist Humanist, and its relation to both her teaching and her activism.Caroline Levine has spent her career asking how and why the humanities and the arts matter, especially in democratic societies. She argues for an understanding of forms and structures as essential both to understanding links between art and society and to the challenge of taking meaningful political action. She is the author of four books. The most recent, The Activist Humanist: Form and Method in the Climate Crisis (Princeton University Press 2023), grows out of the theoretical work of Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network (2015, winner of the James Russell Lowell Prize from the MLA, and named one of Flavorwire’s “10 Must-Read Academic Books of 2015”). Levine has also published The Serious Pleasures of Suspense: Victorian Realism and Narrative Doubt (2003, winner of the Perkins Prize for the best book in narrative studies) and Provoking Democracy: Why We Need the Arts (2007).Bill McKibben is founder of Third Act, which organizes people over the age of 60 for action on climate and justice. His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He’s gone on to write 20 books, and his work appears regularly in periodicals from the New Yorker to Rolling Stone. He serves as the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he has won the Gandhi Peace Prize as well as honorary degrees from 20 colleges and universities. He was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the alternative Nobel, in the Swedish Parliament. Foreign Policy named him to its inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers.McKibben helped found 350.org, the first global grassroots climate campaign, which has organized protests on every continent, including Antarctica, for climate action. He played a leading role in launching the opposition to big oil pipeline projects like Keystone XL, and the fossil fuel divestment campaign, which has become the biggest anti-corporate campaign in history, with endowments worth more than $40 trillion stepping back from oil, gas and coal. He stepped down as board chair of 350 in 2015, and left the board and stepped down from his volunteer role as senior adviser in 2020, accepting emeritus status. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors. In 2014, biologists credited his career by naming a new species of woodland gnat—Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.
On International Children's Day 2023, A Discussion of Childhood in Gaza: Law, History, and Politics
Nov 20 2023
On International Children's Day 2023, A Discussion of Childhood in Gaza: Law, History, and Politics
We recorded this episode of Speaking Out of Place on Saturday the 18th of November, 2023, as Israel’s massive attack on Gaza passed the 40-day mark. Almost immediately after the deadly October 7 Hamas attack, the image of the child, both Israeli and Palestinian, began to dominate the media’s coverage, and appeals to international humanitarian law were made to “save the children.” Azeezah Kanji and I decided to create this podcast to coincide with November 20, International Children’s Day, in order to take a deeper look at why such appeals to the law must be contextualized both historically and politically. Hedi Viterbo is an associate professor of law at Queen Mary University of London in the UK. His research examines legal issues concerning childhood, state violence, and sexuality from an interdisciplinary and global perspective. His latest book is Problematizing Law, Rights, and Childhood in Israel/Palestine (Cambridge University Press, 2021).Dr. Jess Ghannam is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Global Health Sciences in the School of Medicine at UCSF. His research areas include evaluating the long-term health consequences of war on displaced communities and the psychological and psychiatric effects of armed conflict on children. Dr. Ghannam has developed community health clinics in the Middle East that focus on developing community-based treatment programs for families in crisis.  He is also a consultant with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Reprieve and other international NGO's that work with torture survivors. Locally he works to promote and enhance the health and wellness of refugee, displaced, and immigrant populations from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia and has established a community-based Mental Health Treatment Programs to support these communities.
A Palestinian Meditation in a Time of Annihilation: A Conversation with Fady Joudah
Nov 2 2023
A Palestinian Meditation in a Time of Annihilation: A Conversation with Fady Joudah
Today we speak with Palestinian American poet and physician Fady Joudah. We are recording this interview on Thursday, November 2, 2023, as the State of Israel expands its brutal and illegal collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza—an act of genocidal ethnic cleansing. Health authorities in Gaza report more than nine thousand deaths in a population where 60 percent are under the age of 18. The United Nations General Assembly has just overwhelmingly passed a resolution demanding the “protection of civilians and [the] upholding [of] legal and humanitarian obligations.” The Assembly, also demanded that all parties “immediately and fully comply” with obligations under international humanitarian and human rights laws, “particularly in regard to the protection of civilians and civilian objects.”Fady Joudah’s poetry has always addressed the situation of the Palestinians in Israel, in the Occupied Territories, and in diaspora, managing somehow to capture both the political and the personal, and above all the courage and humanity of the Palestinian people. We speak in particular about his recent LitHub piece, “A Palestinian Meditation in a Time of Annihilation: Thirteen Maqams for an Afterlife.” We are honored that he made time in this period of crisis to speak with us.Fady Joudah is a Palestinian American physician, poet, and translator. He was born in Austin, Texas, and grew up in Libya and Saudi Arabia. He was educated at the University of Georgia, the Medical College of Georgia, and the University of Texas Health Sciences in Houston. In 2002 and 2005 he worked with Doctors Without Borders in Zambia and Sudan, respectively.Joudah’s debut collection of poetry, The Earth in the Attic (2008), won the 2007 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition, chosen by Louise Glück. Joudah followed his second book of poetry, Alight (2013) with Textu (2014), a collection of poems written on a cell phone wherein each piece is exactly 160 characters long. His fourth collection is Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance (2018).  In 2014, Joudah was a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. As critic Charles Bainbridge observed in a 2008 Guardian review of The Earth in the Attic, “Joudah’s poetry thrives on dramatic shifts in perspective, on continually challenging received notions.”Joudah translated  several collections of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s work in The Butterfly’s Burden (2006), which won the Banipal prize from the UK and was a finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation; and in If I Were Another, which won a PEN USA award in 2010. His translation of Ghassan Zaqtan's Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me (2012) won the Griffin International Poetry Prize in 2013. His other translations include Amjad Nasser's Petra: The Concealed Rose and A Map of Signs and Scents.Joudah lives with his family in Houston, where he works as a physician of internal medicine.
Black Scare/Red Scare: Theorizing Capitalist Racism with Charisse Burden-Stelly
Oct 28 2023
Black Scare/Red Scare: Theorizing Capitalist Racism with Charisse Burden-Stelly
Today we talk with the prolific and wide-ranging scholar Charisse Burden-Stelly about her new book, Black Scare/Red Scare: Theorizing Capitalist Racism in the United States, just out from the University of Chicago Press. The book shows the emergence and conjuncture of two strands of discourse and practice that were used to suppress Blacks in the United States, beginning in the early twentieth century and still present today. The Black Scare created and nurtured a phobic psychic disposition towards Blacks on the basis of race, the Red Scare was based on anti-Bolshevik and anti-Communist fears rampant at the time. The Black Scare was used to maintain White Supremacy, the Red Scare to prop up Capitalism. Charisse Burden-Stelly talks with us about these phenomena on both the national and international stages, and attends to the specific dynamics of gender, race, and class through a series of case studies.Charisse Burden-Stelly is a critical Black Studies scholar of political theory, political economy, and intellectual history. Their research pursues two complementary lines of inquiry. The first interrogates the transnational entanglements of U.S. capitalist racism, anticommunism, and antiblack racial oppression; the second area of focus examines twentieth-century Black anticapitalist intellectual thought, theory, and praxis. Burden-Stelly is the co-author, with Dr. Gerald Horne, of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Life in American History, and my single-authored book titled Black Scare/Red Scare: Theorizing Capitalist Racism in the United States is forthcoming in November 2023. They are also the co-editor, with Dr. Jodi Dean, of Organize, Fight, Win: Black Communist Women’s Political Writings (Verso, 2022) and the co-editor, with Dr. Aaron Kamugisha and Dr. Percy Hintzen, of the latter’s writings titled Reproducing Domination: On the Caribbean and the Postcolonial State.They also edited the “Claudia Jones: Foremother of World Revolution” special issue of The Journal of Intersectionality.Charisse Burden-Stelly’s published work appears in journals including Small Axe, Monthly Review, Souls, Du Bois Review, Socialism & Democracy, International Journal of Africana Studies, CLR James Journal, and American Communist History and in popular venues including Monthly Review, Boston Review, Essence magazine, and Black Agenda Report.