Amal Eqeiq: Small Literatures, Big Affinities – From Palestine and Chiapas to the Global South

Geographically, both Palestine and Chiapas are small places. Their location in the global political imaginary, however, is neither small nor peripheral. Inspired by and committed to global indigenous solidarity and South-South dialogue, my project, ‘Indigenous Affinities: Comparative Study in Mayan and Palestinian Narratives’, seeks to bridge comparative literature and indigenous studies. I investigate similarities between contemporary Mayan and Palestinian narratives of indigeneity based on their shared histories of land struggle, practices of autonomy, quests for liberation, and collective resistance to systematic structural racism, military oppression, and colonial violence. Going beyond the long history of Latin American solidarity with Palestine, my goal is to engage Palestine with Mexico as parallel geographies of indigenous struggle, while addressing the tension between Settler Colonial Studies and Indigenous Studies, which has limited comparative studies of Palestine to Apartheid in South Africa and settler colonialism in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In my presentation, I will share some preliminary reflections on my theorization of the concept of affinity. Due to its political history in Third World solidarity, this critical paradigm, as my findings demonstrate, is particularly pertinent to examining small literatures in the Global South. My presentation will also shed light on three concepts that have shaped the literary history and criticism of indigenous texts in Mexico and Palestine: minor, minority and minoritization. Through a comparative reading of how Mayan and Palestinian literary and cultural productions redrew older regional borders, while at the same time crossed the geopolitical colonial borders that produced the category of indigenous minorities in the first place, I tease out the tension between minor, minority and minoritization, and demonstrate their overlapping histories.

Amal Eqeiq is a native Palestinian born in the city of Al Taybeh in Israel/Palestine. She is Assistant Professor of Arabic Studies and Comparative Literature at Williams College. Her research interests include: modern Arab literature, popular culture, Palestine Studies, feminism(s), performance studies, translation, indigenous studies in the Americas, and literature of the Global South. She is currently completing her manuscript, Indigenous Affinities: A Comparative Study in Mayan and Palestinian Narratives. Amal is also a creative writer and has published a number of short stories and essays in Mada Masr, Jadaliyya and several anthologies, including Being Palestinian (2017) and Min Fami: Arab Feminist Reflections on Identity, Resistance and Space (2014). Her translation of selected poems by Hussein al Barghouti (Arabic–English) and Miguel Ángel Asturias (Spanish–Arabic) appeared in Jadaliyya (2011 & 2017). Amal runs a Facebook blog called “Diaries of a Hedgehog Feminist.”


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