Assuming Boycott – Resistance, Agency and Cultural Production

Edited by KAREEM ESTEFAN, CARIN KUONI, and LAURA RAICOVICH

Published by OR books

“The brilliant writers and debaters assembled here come at the issue from different angles, all from the central belief that art is never not political. In the end, they are less interested in arguing for or against tactics than they are in advocating an art of political thinking.”
—Holland Cotter, co-chief art critic, The New York Times

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“Artistic resistance has seldom proven so socially useful, or as complicated. This intellectually engaging study targets the paradoxes, limitations, and media spectacle of organized cultural boycotts and state-sponsored censorship from South African apartheid in the 1980s, to present day Israel-Palestine, Cuba, the Gulf States, the United Kingdom, and the United States among other geopolitical zones of conflict.”
—Gregory Sholette, artist and author of Delirium and Resistance: Activist Art and the Crisis of Capitalism

 

“Without a trace of left-wing melancholy, the authors offer us an essential guide to the terrain of cultural politics today. With colleagues and comrades like these, one feels not only bolstered but downright emboldened.”
—Hal Foster, Townsend Martin Professor of Art and Archeology, Princeton University; editor, The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture

About the book
Boycott and divestment are essential tools for activists around the globe. Today’s organizers target museums, universities, corporations, and governments to curtail unethical sources of profit, discriminatory practices, or human rights violations. They leverage cultural production – and challenge its institutional supports – helping transform situations in the name of social justice.

The refusal to participate in an oppressive system has long been one of the most powerful weapons in the organizer’s arsenal. Since the days of the 19th century Irish land wars, when Irish tenant farmers defied the actions of Captain Charles Boycott and English landlords, “boycott” has been a method that’s shown its effectiveness time and again. In the 20th century, it notably played central roles in the liberation of India and South Africa and the struggle for civil rights in the U.S.: the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott is generally seen as a turning point in the movement against segregation.

Assuming Boycott is the essential reader for today’s creative leaders and cultural practitioners, including original contributions by artists, scholars, activists, critics, curators and writers who examine the historical precedent of South Africa; the current cultural boycott of Israel; freedom of speech and self-censorship; and long-distance activism. Far from withdrawal or cynicism, boycott emerges as a productive tool of creative and productive engagement.

Including essays by Nasser Abourahme, Ariella Azoulay, Tania Bruguera, Noura Erakat, Kareem Estefan, Mariam Ghani with Haig Aivazian, Nathan Gray and Ahmet Öğüt, Chelsea Haines, Sean Jacobs, Yazan Khalili, Carin Kuoni and Laura Raicovich, Svetlana Mintcheva, Naeem Mohaiemen, Hlonipha Mokoena, John Peffer, Joshua Simon, Ann Laura Stoler, Radhika Subramaniam, Eyal Weizman and Kareem Estefan, and Frank B. Wilderson III.

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