Brecht considered War Primer part of “a satisfactory literary report on my years in exile,” as he wrote in a 1944 journal entry. Since this first English language reception of War Primer on the centenary of Brecht’s birth in 1998, what are we now to make of his poignant modernist epic of four-liner lyrics and scrapbook photos? Today, in our post-crash era, with its renewal of Marxism, Brecht the formalist can be freed from a series of postmodern qualifications. War Primer’s historical intervention can be seen in a new way today. With the far right politically relevant again, Brecht’s image-by-image analysis of social democracy, America, and fascism, which is the veritable heart of War Primer, possesses fresh relevance.
On Friday 23rd December the UN passed a resolution demanding a stop to Israeli settlement in the occupied territories as, in a shock move, the US refused to veto the resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exploded, calling it a 'declaration of war' (having recently been granted a $38 billion military aid package by the US), and Secretary of State John Kerry criticised Israel's approach to the peace process. But with Trump tweeting that Israel should 'stay strong' until his inauguration, progress still seems unlikely.
Verso presents a list of books from Israeli, Palestinian, and anti-imperialist authors, to explain the conflict and provide some perspectives on the future.
The Multaqa: Museum as Meeting Point program, an initiative of the German Ministry of Education, Science and Culture that trains refugees from Iraq and Syria for guide positions in a handful of cultural and historical museums, has been widely praised in the Western media. But, as Ariella Azoulay argues in this excerpt from a work-in-progress, it doesn't go nearly as far as it could to undermine the cultural dynamics of imperialism and give rise to a new set of human rights.
It is no secret that millions of objects that had never been destined for display in white cubes were looted from all over the world only to be carefully handled and preserved in Western museums as precious objects. Once looted, these objects were made inaccessible to the people who had created them and to the communities in which they had been produced, used, and exchanged.
After provocatively arguing for photography as a civic practice capable of reclaiming civil power in Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography, Ariella Azoulay engages with the intersection between linguistics, heritage, and social justice in a searing memoir, Mother Tongue, Father Tongue. Azoulay thoughtfully and provocatively reminisces about her experience growing up as a Mizrahi woman in Israel, addressing the alienation, estrangement, and civil injustice that continues to plague equality in Israeli society.