October 17, 2014
Here’s the press release for the latest project from Librarians and Archivists with Palestine, and we are looking for librarians and their friends to get involved!
This winter, Librarians and Archivists with Palestine (LAP) is coordinating an exciting international reading campaign: “One Book, Many Communities: Mornings in Jenin.” The project draws inspiration from the “one book, one town” idea–wherein people in local communities come together to read and discuss a common book. LAP invites readers, librarians, and others to organize gatherings in January 2015 to discuss Mornings in Jenin, the acclaimed novel by Palestinian-American author and activist Susan Abulhawa.
Mornings in Jenin is a sweeping, heart-wrenching historical saga about four generations of the Abulheja family. From Jenin to Jerusalem to Beirut to Philadelphia, the novel follows the family from its displacement from Ein Hod village in 1948 through love and loss over decades of life in Palestine and the diaspora. LAP’s “One Book, Many Communities” campaign will introduce readers to the richness of Palestinian literature, and create a broader awareness and understanding of Palestinian history and the struggle for self-determination.
All are welcome to organize a reading group in their community in January 2015. Book groups can be held at a library, university or school, at a local non-profit organization or community center, in a living room, or at a bookstore. Event organizers can get in touch with LAP at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will also be a campaign launch featuring author Susan Abulhawa at Bluestockings bookstore in New York City on Saturday, November 8.
Librarians and Archivists with Palestine is a network of self-defined librarians, archivists, and information workers in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.
October 10, 2014
In Solidarity: Academic Librarian Labour Activism and Union Participation in Canada
Editors: Jennifer Dekker and Mary Kandiuk
Published: October 2014
With a focus on Canada, this collection provides a historical and current perspective regarding the unionization of academic librarians, an exploration of some of the major labour issues affecting academic librarians in a certified and non-certified union context, as well as case studies relating to the unionization of academic librarians at selected institutions. Topics addressed include the history of academic librarian labour organizing in Canada, academic status, academic freedom, leadership in academic staff associations, collective bargaining, and recent attacks on the rights and occupational interests of academic librarians at Canadian universities. The volume includes a broad representation of academic librarian labour activists from across Canada. Little in the way of documentation exists on academic librarian union activism and participation in Canada and this work will contribute to original research in this area. Serving as both history and handbook it will be of interest to librarians and labour historians alike.
June 5, 2014
Last summer I went with a delegation of information workers to Israel/Palestine. As our post-trip solidarity statement said: We bore witness to the destruction and appropriation of information, and the myriad ways access is denied. We were inspired by the many organizations and individuals we visited who resist settler-colonialism in their daily lives. We connected with colleagues in libraries, archives, and related projects and institutions, in the hopes of gaining mutual benefit through information exchange and skill-sharing. We learned about the common and unique challenges we face—both in different parts of Palestine and in our home contexts.
Below is the press release that Librarians and Archivists with Palestine (LAP) is issuing today. Please read on and join the network if you are moved to.
Librarians and Archivists with Palestine Launches New Website and Solidarity Network
contact: librarians2palestine AT gmail com
June 5, 2014
On the 47th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and after 66 years of dispossession of the Palestinian people, a group of librarians and archivists is launching a network of information workers in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. In summer 2013, information workers from the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, and Palestine went to Palestine to connect with colleagues in libraries, archives, and related projects and institutions, in the hopes of gaining mutual benefit through information exchange and skill-sharing. In the months since our journey, members of the Librarians and Archivists to Palestine delegation have publicly discussed what we witnessed during, and learned from, our trip—in local activist spaces, at scholarly conferences, and in publications.
Today, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of a new name, a new website, and a new network. We have updated our name from Librarians and Archivists to Palestine to Librarians and Archivists with Palestine (LAP). This change reflects the fact that we are more than a visiting delegation; we are committed to ongoing work on projects of solidarity in support of Palestinian libraries and archives.
Our new website, librarianswithpalestine.org, includes information and observations about places we visited—research and cultural organizations including Birzeit University, the Issaf Nashashibi Center for Culture and Literature, the Tamer Institute for Community Education, and the Saffourieh Museum for Heritage and Return—photos, and a compilation of LAP publications such as zines and articles.
Most importantly, we are excited to launch a broad-based network in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. Any self-defined information worker who agrees with our principles is invited to become a LAP member. Members can also join solidarity project working groups and contribute their skills to support access to information in and about Palestine.
For more information and to join the network, please visit librarianswithpalestine.org. The public is also invited to LAP’s open house on Tuesday, June 17, at Interference Archive in Brooklyn, NY, where we will be displaying prints, zines, and photos from our new portfolio created with Booklyn Artists Alliance.
September 25, 2013
August 6, 2013
Librarians and Archivists to Palestine has just published a post-delegation statement (reproduced in full below). The statement has also been posted on the widely-read Middle East website Mondoweiss, where there is some additional discussion and context in the comments (one commenter even wrote, “Once again, it is librarians who step up where others fear to tread,” which may not be totally accurate but is still nice to hear). If you want to join LAP’s (low-traffic!) email announcement list, send a blank message to email@example.com. You can also follow @Librarians2Pal and like our Facebook page, and stay tuned for a full report and events, possibly in a town near you!
Update, 8/6/13: There is one edit and one addition to the statement. See asterisks below.
We are an independent group of librarians and archivists who traveled to Palestine from June 23 – July 4, 2013. We come from the US, Canada, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, and Palestine. We bore witness to the destruction and appropriation of information, and the myriad ways access is denied. We were inspired by the many organizations and individuals we visited who resist settler-colonialism in their daily lives. We connected with colleagues in libraries, archives, and related projects and institutions, in the hopes of gaining mutual benefit through information exchange and skill-sharing. We learned about the common and unique challenges we face—both in different parts of Palestine and in our home contexts. In all our travels and work, we respected the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and did not partner with any organization that violates this call. As librarians and archivists, as people who believe in access to information, we affirm that institutional academic and cultural boycotts are appropriate responses to curtailed freedoms and are effective tools for change.
Our group was small, our scope limited. We traveled only to Palestine, and only to parts of Palestine. We were not able to visit Palestinian communities in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, or elsewhere, and our trip was only the first step in creating a network of information workers. We were privileged to visit cities, villages, and refugee camps, and to meet with grassroots activists and institutional representatives. In the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and 1948 Palestine (Israel), we engaged with librarians and archivists about their projects and their struggles.
As we travelled we saw barriers to movement everywhere: walls, checkpoints, turnstiles, metal detectors, segregated roads, surveillance watchtowers, military patrols, security cameras, and settler militias. We saw communities devastated by criminalization and incarceration. We visited the rubble of villages that were destroyed in 1948, and we witnessed the ongoing Judaization of Palestinian communities through new housing developments, unequal provision of municipal services, and the Hebraization of place names. We saw new Israeli settlements hovering on hilltops above Palestinian villages, evidence of the forcible land grabs and displacement that Palestinians have been facing for decades. We met families that have struggled and suffered through egregious violence and yet work every day to secure education, opportunities, safety and a more just world for their children.
The erasure of Palestinian culture and history is a tactic of war and occupation, a means to further limit the self-determination of the Palestinian people. Yet the richness, beauty, and complexity of Palestinian existence was everywhere evident, in the historical and contemporary cultural material produced by writers, poets, journalists, artists, archivists and librarians, and in the histories passed down through stories and from person to person. We bore witness to a culture of resistance, which in all its myriad forms resoundingly refutes the notion that Palestine does not exist.
Our experiences in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and 1948 Palestine (Israel) were complex, challenging, beautiful and deeply meaningful. We met creative, committed, and courageous activists, visionaries, cultural workers, artists, librarians and archivists. Everywhere we went we witnessed the daily lived realities of occupation and colonialism, as well as ongoing resistance and the persistent quest for justice:*
At Aida Refugee Camp located in Bethlehem, we saw how the Apartheid Wall prevented the community from accessing nearby olive groves which had been used for relaxation, studying, animal grazing and agriculture. We also heard about the Lajee Center’s project to map the people’s histories of the camp.
In Nabi Saleh weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the confiscation of the community’s land and water are met with extreme violence from the Israeli military. The villagers are using video to document the violence they experience, as well as collecting the empty tear gas canisters and shell casings which are used against them. This documentation is used by the community to honor their resistance, to communicate their struggle with the wider world, and to dispute false accusations in the courts.
School librarians described the difficulty in obtaining Arabic language children’s literature, especially in 1948 Palestine (Israel). Many of the available books are low-quality translations from Hebrew, and Palestinian children have little access to their own literary heritage.
We visited the destroyed town of Saffourieh and heard from former resident Abu Arab about his experiences fleeing the town as a child during the Nakba. Abu Arab has a museum of Palestinian material culture, which he developed out of his work as an antiques collector. The museum challenges the process of ethnic cleansing and the erasure of cultural memory. Abu Arab is the brother of poet Taha Muhammed Ali.
Throughout Palestine we encountered cultural production by youth to preserve traditions, by the Yaffa Youth Movement in Jaffa, the Yafa Cultural Center in Balata Refugee Camp, and the Lajee Center in Aida Refugee Camp.
We witnessed the documentation of prisoners’ lives, a central experience in the Palestinian struggle against occupation. At the Nablus Public Library we saw the marginalia and creative book repairs in a former prison library collection, and at the Abu Jihad Museum for the Prisoners Movement Affairs we learned about a project to collect and digitize prisoners’ notebooks from across the West Bank.
We learned from the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association that the Israeli military is currently detaining 4,900 Palestinians, including 236 children and 8 members of Palestinian legislature.
In East Jerusalem we visited the Nashashibi Center for Culture and Literature, a rebuilt family library from which all the books were stolen during the Nakba in 1948. We also visited the Orient House, which was closed by the Israeli government in 2001 and had significant portions of its archival collections confiscated.
Librarians at Birzeit University told us of their success in petitioning the Library of Congress to adopt a call number for the First Intifada, recognizing it as a unique historical period even as it was still happening: DS128.4.**
During a meeting with the organization alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, we learned about the process of organizing across the West Bank / 1948 Palestine border, the articulation of Palestinian-specific understandings of sexual identity, and the Singing Sexuality project, which discusses sexuality through music.
In Lyd, not far from Tel Aviv, we saw where the library of the local school was removed and replaced with a police station.
We visited the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan, where residents of the neighborhood create grassroots media about the settler violence they experience on a daily basis.
At the El Bireh Municipal Library we learned about the Tamer Institute, which produces and publishes Arabic language children’s books that are distributed to libraries and community centers throughout Palestine.
Recognizing the barriers to movement and access that often keep the aforementioned organizations and projects from connecting with each other, and appreciating the importance of accountability to the communities that hosted us in Palestine, our delegation organized a public forum in Ramallah on our last evening together. We shared our initial ideas and asked for feedback about our observations.
While the delegation has ended, our work will continue: we will seek out and convene events in our home communities where we can share our knowledge about the effects of occupation and colonialism on libraries, archives, and Palestinian society; we will publish reports, articles, and zines that document the challenges faced—and the amazing work being done—by Palestinian information workers; we will develop an international network of information workers to facilitate skill-sharing, solidarity work, and community among librarians and archivists in Palestine and abroad; we will lobby national and international library and archival organizations to take tangible steps against the occupation and in support of Palestinian perspectives in information work; we will join Palestinians, Israelis, and international activists in campaigns for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid and colonialism. We will continue to learn and adapt our strategies to changing realities and will engage in critical examinations of our own positions of privilege. Through these activities we will work to support access to information in and about Palestine and Palestinian self-determination.
Librarians and Archivists to Palestine 2013 Delegation:
Bronwen Densmore – New York City College of Technology
Molly Fair – Interference Archive; Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative; CUNY TV
Che Gossett – Independent Archivist, Philadelphia
Amy Greer – Doctoral Candidate, Simmons College
Blair Kuntz – Near and Middle East Studies Librarian, University of Toronto
Grace Lile – WITNESS
Josh MacPhee – Interference Archive; Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative
Rachel Mattson – University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana; Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
Hannah Mermelstein – Saint Ann’s School Library; Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel
Andrea Miller-Nesbitt – Liaison Librarian, McGill University
Bekezela Mguni – Independent Librarian; New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice
Melissa Morrone – Public Librarian
Vani Natarajan – Barnard College Library
Elisabet Risberg- Librarian, The International Library in Stockholm
Maggie Schreiner – Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive; Rude Mechanical Orchestra
All organizational affiliations are listed for identification purposes only and in no way indicate a position taken by such organizations on the issues raised in this statement.
*For a more complete list of projects and organizations we visited, please see this handout we distributed at our public forum in Ramallah at the end of our delegation.
**An earlier version of this statement listed the call number as DS119.75. Birzeit University librarians have clarified that DS128.4 was the number assigned during the First Intifada, whereas it appears that the Library of Congress assigned a new number (DS119.75) after the Intifada ended. Birzeit University continues to use DS128.4. We apologize for the error.
June 26, 2013
Librarians and Archivists to Palestine is underway! The first of its kind, this delegation is 16 information workers from the West who are spending time in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to meet with archivists and librarians at a wide range of organizations and institutions. We’re discussing issues (some of which we all face, even in our different contexts), exchanging ideas, considering skillshares, and building relationships.
Want to follow LAP’s activities? There’s an email announcement list that you can join by sending a blank message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Most of our delegation’s regular updates during our travels will actually not be on the email list, but through three main venues:
Once we are back, we will also send updates about possible work moving forward based on our conversations on the ground. So far, four days in, there’s a lot of food for thought.
May 28, 2013
Import of the Archive: U.S. Colonial Rule of the Philippines and the Making of American Archival History
Author: Cheryl Beredo
Published: June 2013
Printed on acid-free paper
Published by Litwin Books
This book a part of the Series on Archives, Archivists, and Society, Richard J. Cox, editor.
Import of the Archive examines the role of archives in the United States’ colonization of the Philippines between 1898 and 1916. During this period the archives played a critical part in the United States’ entrenchment of a colonial state, exhibiting the flexibility and authority to enable arguments of the former colonial power’s incompetence and the native population’s incapacity.
Based on extensive research of and in archives in the Philippines and the United States, this book urges readers to consider archival history within the context of America’s imperial history. This book defines the archives broadly, as the accumulation material about a time proclaimed as “historic,” as well as the records of the Bureau of Insular Affairs and the United States’ Philippine Government, and the archives ceded by Spain per the treaty that ended the Spanish-American War.
Taking an historical approach to understanding the political function that archives played in this particular context, this book is intended for classroom use in archival studies curricula. A slim volume, it could be assigned with complementary books or articles on archives in other colonial contexts, critical analyses of libraries and archives, or any number of topics. It will also be of general interest to scholars of archival history and United States-Philippine relations.
May 19, 2013
Recommended to anyone interested in archives and the cultural record: the documentary now streaming on Netflix called The Mexican Suitcase. It’s about the recovery of a cache of photographic negatives made by important photographers who went to fight the fascists with their cameras during the Spanish Civil War. (It’s called The Mexican Suitcase because it ended up hidden in Mexico for 70 years before it was finally discovered.) Robert Capa is the most historically significant of the three. The pictures ended up at the International Center of Photography in NYC. The documentary interviews people who knew the photographers, archivists, survivors of the war, descendents of refugees, and others. It balances attention to the history itself, the significance for photographic history, and a sense of how the lives of people now are connected to these photographs in various ways…
April 24, 2013
Letter from the CILIP International Library and Information Group:
In the interest of international cooperation and experience-sharing, I would like to invite you to join the Hosts Directory and help make it a global resource.
So what is it?
The Hosts Directory is exactly that – a list of international librarians who are willing to host, for a day or two, a fellow library and information worker who is visiting their city or region. Hosts are located across the world – please see the Map of hosts at www.tinyurl.com/CILIPHostsMaps . All information is anonymous and you will not be put in contact with a guest without agreeing beforehand – the idea is that you will be able to stay with a professional colleague when attending a conference, event or just travelling abroad rather than in a hotel.
All you need is a spare bed or room and the desire to meet colleagues from other countries, to share experiences and to contribute, in a small way, to building bridges to international understanding and co-operation within the library and information profession. Guidance for potential Hosts is also available online at www.tinyurl.com/CILIPHostsGuide.
Please help us expand the directory by registering online at www.tinyurl.com/CILIPHostsRegistration.
For the visitor – the guest – it is a chance to get to know, at first hand, something of the life of a fellow professional in a foreign country as well as the opportunity to stay with a colleague for free or at limited cost.
If you would like to use the Hosts Directory as a guest, please first check the Map of hosts at www.tinyurl.com/CILIPHostsMaps to see there are Hosts in the area you are visiting and email the Hosts Directory Administrator at email@example.com with details of who you are, where you want to and how long they want to stay.
Please feel free to pass this information onto colleagues who may also be interested.
Facebook: International Library and Information Group
ILIG YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/CILIPILIG
March 11, 2013
Interesting article from The Moscow News this week about the women behind the great men of Russian literary history. The author claims that creative partnership between writers prior to women’s independence was a uniquely Russian tradition…
December 10, 2012
Call for Papers for Forthcoming Book: In Solidarity: Academic Librarian Labour Activism and Union Participation in Canada
Jennifer Dekker, University of Ottawa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mary Kandiuk, York University (email@example.com)
PUBLISHER: Library Juice Press
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: 2014
With a focus on Canada, this collection will document the labour-related struggles and gains of academic librarians. It will provide historical and current perspectives regarding the unionization of academic librarians, an exploration of the major labour issues affecting academic librarians in both certified and non-certified union contexts, as well as case studies relating to the unionization of academic librarians at selected institutions. The volume will strive to include a broad representation of academic librarian labour activists and those who have rallied to the support of academic librarians in the workplace.
OBJECTIVE OF THE BOOK:
This edited collection will gather the common experiences of Canadian academic librarians and situate them in a national framework with respect to unionization. It will examine the issues that have led to the formal organization of academic librarians, the gains that have been achieved, and the ramifications of those gains. A limited number of chapters exploring relevant issues from a non-Canadian perspective are also being sought in order to provide insight and comparisons in a broader context.
The editors invite chapters that describe activities undertaken by academic librarians, unions, and related associations that further the goals of librarians in the academy from a labour perspective. Examples of topics that would be of particular interest to the editors include:
• Academic freedom cases involving U.S. academic librarians, for the purpose of comparing these to the Canadian setting;
• Librarians and governance on Canadian and / or U.S .campuses;
• Faculty or academic status of librarians in the U.S., including a comparison with Canada;
• Successful mobilization or political strategies for unionization or labour actions of academic librarians;
• Case studies of academic librarians asserting their collective rights in such a way that might provide inspiration or guidance for other groups;
• Labour action or the experience of strike within the academic library environment.
In particular, the editors would like to encourage chapters that explore the experiences of academic librarians from a labour perspective using a methodological framework as appropriate. Proposals that examine the issues from a theoretical framework are also welcome.
The editors believe that this book will be of interest to academic librarians, labour historians, and those interested in academic labour or unionization of library workers.
Authors are invited to submit abstracts and proposals of 300-500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by January 15, 2013. Notifications will be sent by February 1, 2013. A draft manuscript ranging from 1,500-7,000 words will be due by June 1, 2013. Submitted manuscripts must not have been published previously or simultaneously submitted elsewhere. Following review, articles will be returned via e-mail for revision before final acceptance. All materials will be edited as necessary for clarity. All submissions should include at the beginning an abstract of no more than 150 words, highlighting the scope, methodology, and conclusions of the paper. Authors should follow the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. (2010). We welcome contributions from scholars and practitioners alike. If you wish to discuss your contribution please feel free to contact us.
Submission of proposals should include:
Name of author
300-500 word abstract
As I mentioned at the end of my post about the most recent session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, I’ve been helping plan a delegation of librarians and archivists to Palestine during summer 2013. Word has been going out on email lists and social media, and I wanted to put out the call for applicants here as well:
A delegation of librarians, archivists, and other library workers will travel to Palestine in the summer of 2013. We will connect with our colleagues in library- and archive-related projects and institutions there, applying our experience in the form of skillshares and other types of joint work. We will travel as truth-seekers and information-skeptics, eager to dispense with the superficial and inaccurate portrayals of life in Israel/Palestine that we see in the west and to learn about the realities of life under occupation and apartheid. As library workers, we support access to information, and recognize that this goes in more than one direction. Our trip will shed light on how Palestinian voices and information about Palestine reach us (or do not) and how Palestinian people access (or cannot access) information. We will bear witness to the destruction and appropriation of information, and support efforts to preserve cultural heritage and archival materials in Palestine. Upon return to our communities, we will share what we have seen, apply what we have learned, publicize projects we have visited, and otherwise break down barriers to access in any way we can.
During the delegation, we will spend time in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and inside Israel. In all our travels, we will respect the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and will not partner with any organization that violates this call.
For more information, to apply, or to donate to help make the delegation successful, please visit librarians2palestine.wordpress.com.
Yes, unfortunately, the trip does conflict with ALA Annual, but the dates were chosen based on the organizers’ schedules and the timing of Ramadan and can’t be changed. Even if you’re unable to apply, we’re really excited about people following the delegation’s activities and connecting with the documentation and projects that will come out of our travels. If you’d like to apply or have any ideas for us, write to librarians2palestine AT gmail DOT com.
October 15, 2012
The fourth session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) took place in New York City two weekends ago. According to an info sheet in the program folder, it was an “International People’s Tribunal” that “has no legal status, [but] like other Russell Tribunals on Vietnam, Chile and Iraq, its legitimacy comes from its universality and the strength that it draws from the will of its citizens and the support of international personalities…” If anyone is interested in the actual content, you can go to the RToP’s website (and I would also recommend you take a look at Ethan Heitner’s wonderful renderings, with sketches, of each day). But I bring this up here to talk about the value and limitations of documentation.
“I don’t know what I’m doing here,” an acquaintance said with a laugh when I bumped into her during a coffee break on the first day of the session, and I was happy to hear that because I didn’t really know what I was doing there, either (a future Library Juice post notwithstanding). But then I reminded myself, again, that it was called a “people’s tribunal” for a reason, that our very presence in the audience was necessary and gave the event weight. (There is also something called the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, which formed in 1979 and recently held a session in India about agrochemical transnational corporations.) We were what made it all different from the issuing of another bunch of reports and essays. The jury was stacked, as it were, composed of people whose progressive politics in general and on Israel-Palestine in particular are well known. And the event certainly wasn’t about hearing the voices of those most directly affected by the issue at hand, as there were only two Palestinian speakers the entire weekend (there would have been a couple more, had illness and visa denials not prevented their presence). But there we all were in the Great Hall at Cooper Union, having gotten up early on a Saturday morning for this sold-out tribunal.
The session opened with an introduction (in French, and tant pis to the majority of the audience who didn’t realize they would be needing the translation headphones) by Pierre Galand, who told us how Bertrand Russell had formed the first Tribunal (on Vietnam) in 1966 to combat “the crime of silence.” He also explained that as the audience, we were participants in the tribunal and as such should rise when the jury entered and filed out, refrain from applause, and generally behave as befitting a serious event in which we played a serious role. (Being asshole Americans, most of us had a hard time with even these limited directions and just laughed it off when Galand tried to shame us by comparing New York with all the other world cities where people managed to conduct themselves properly.)
And so the weekend proceeded, with hours of intricate presentations. And we listened. And I formulated questions in my head: Does the proclamation of a foregone conclusion have value? Is having a big event and inviting ordinary people (albeit those who already care deeply about the issue) to hear testimony important if only as an affirmation and inspiration to keep up with their solidarity work? Will the additional documentation and judgment change minds?
Regarding the documentation, the single livestream file is online, but this is not useful if you want to find a particular witness’s presentation. The RToP website has all of the reports, of course, including a draft one for the NYC session, but I don’t know how easy it is to find the multilingual softcover reports that detail each session. A book about the London tribunal came out from a trade publisher and, according to WorldCat, is held widely in academic libraries around the world. I wonder if any public libraries have ever done programming related to these “people’s tribunals”?
And regarding the judgment and the changing of minds – as one commentator put it, “The conclusion was essentially preordained, but its importance lies in the fact that the findings were presented by a jury full of luminaries like Angela Davis and Alice Walker to a United Nations body.” Well, but that depends on whether you consider someone like Angela Davis a “luminary” or a culturally irrelevant ex-Black Panther.
Another commenter wrote afterward, “While the ‘witnesses’ were mainly international law experts at home in the world of inter-governmental bodies and narrowly-defined protocols for advancing an action, the majority of attendees (and indeed, of the local organizers who worked countless hours to make the event a success) were oriented toward grassroots activism operating largely outside of such channels. This particular contradiction resonated throughout the entire event. All through the proceedings, there was a distinct sense that different segments of those assembled were processing all of the same facts, and yet arriving at radically different conclusions.”
I don’t know if the conclusions were quite so radically different, but the sort of disconnect between the witnesses and the attendees pales in comparison to the disconnect between the overall RToP conclusions and many US perceptions of this particular subject. (Consider how the narrative in the [very minimal] mainstream journalistic coverage was unaltered.) Oftentimes facts and legal justifications are just not enough, and it all has to do instead with political will and public opinion shifts and individual reflection and critical thinking.
So, as usual, the upshot is that a rational assemblage of truthful evidence is only part of the surround of information that shapes our thinking, whether we are a US senator or a random librarian. (I also thought of the circle of information and the human role in it when juror Alice Walker spoke up after Jeanne Mirer’s particularly harrowing testimony about life in Gaza, telling her, “Thank you for going, seeing, witnessing, and sharing with us, with such compassion.”) From our personal lives to our political actions, we are usually guided by one narrative or another, and it’s everything from the recorded testimonies of expert witnesses to the stories we tell ourselves that ultimately change the world.
If you are interested in this topic, a delegation of librarians to Palestine is being planned for next summer. Get in touch with me if you’d like more information when it’s available.
September 10, 2012
This is a couple of months old now but has just reached my attention. It is a statement from IFLA, cosigned by some of its member associations, including ALA and ARL, raising alarm about a new multi-lateral trade agreement that establishes new intellectual property rules that bypass essential balancing user rights such as Fair Use. The agreement is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Please read the IFLA statement for a good explanation of what is happening in this area.
August 18, 2012
I won’t comment much on this except to speculate that this may be an example of a state of affairs in journalism where reporters are making sloppy mistakes because the pace of the newsroom, like the pace of everything else in the internet era, is too quick for us to keep tabs on everything as we should. Numerous reputable newspapers and magazines evidently misreported a story based on a reading of the original Saudi headline, without reading the article itself. Al Jazeera English reports: “Saudi Women-Only City? Look Again.”