Mapping/Tracing National Literature without a Nation-state: Interview with Refqa Abu-Remaileh

Michael Allan interviewed Refqa Abu-Remaileh on her current project in the framework of the Transregional Academy “Minor/Small Literature(s). Perspectives on World Literature from Elsewhere”, which was held in Berlin on 11-20 July 2019. The Academy was organised by the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung in cooperation with the Center for Literary and Cultural Research Berlin (ZfL) in Berlin. Both Refqa and Michael were part of the Steering Committee of the Academy.

The Transregional Academy aimed to question common assumptions of world literature through the prism of minor/small literature(s). Even though Eurocentric foundations have been criticized and questioned for more than two decades, especially from a post-colonial perspective, there has yet to be an alternate literary historiography through which to imagine world literature otherwise.

Refqa’s current project, PalREAD, is one way of engaging with the construction of a different literary historiography. It aims to tell the story of Palestinian literature by tracing, collecting, mapping and analyzing the development and evolution of Palestinian literary and cultural production and practices from 1948 to the present across various Arab, European, American, and Latin American countries. The project departs from a holistic approach, researching authors and literary texts in their trajectories, production, reading sites, reception, and circulation. PalREAD intends to explore the potentials of digitalization and Big Data in collecting, (re)searching, evaluating and sharing Palestinian cultural production. PalRead is a 5 year project funded by the European Research Council.


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