[Marxism] CFP: The Logic of Cultural Boycott

Terri Ginsberg t.ginsberg.1 at alumni.nyu.edu
Wed Jul 13 12:43:15 MDT 2011

"The Logic of Cultural Boycott"
Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) - Boston, MA - March 21-25, 2012

The concept of boycott has been theorized in many ways, inter alia as 
a buyer's strike, a form of consumer resistance, a means of 
non-violent political protest, and a mode of low-intensity 
warfare.  Perhaps the most famous, large-scale boycott in recent 
historical memory is the international boycott of South Africa, which 
effectively served to help dismantle and overturn the Apartheid 
regime.  Boycotts have also been implemented in support of union 
struggles and in protest against breaches of consumer product 
safety.  And they have been deployed to pressure population 
displacement, for instance by pre-state Zionists against Palestinian 
labor in British Mandate Palestine.

Of pertinence to SCMS is the fact that the boycott of South Africa 
entailed a prominent cultural aspect.  Not only did the 
anti-Apartheid movement target corporations such as IBM for their 
significant business dealings with South Africa, but also 
institutions of cultural production, including film and television 
industries, their divisions and venues along with their subsidiaries, 
affiliates, and associates, in protest against their ideological 
and/or economic support for Apartheid.

The practice of cultural boycott has been directed quite vocally in 
more recent years against the state of Israel.  For various reasons 
more controversial in the U.S. than was the anti-Apartheid boycott, 
the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has accrued public 
attention and support unprecedented in the history of the Palestinian 
liberation struggle.  Barely a week passes without at least one more 
major show biz figure announcing her refusal to perform in Israel 
unless at the very least it stops expanding its colonial settlements 
in the Occupied Territories.  In July 2011, Barbara Hammer, one of 
the most important and influential lesbian/feminist filmmakers of all 
time, declined a fellowship from an Israeli foundation for precisely 
this reason.  In 2009, several Canadian filmmakers, among them John 
Greyson and Elle Flanders, challenged the Toronto International Film 
Festival's "Spotlight on Tel Aviv" by threatening to pull their own 
works from that festival.

What are the implications for U.S. filmmaking and for the field of 
cinema and media studies of the BDS cultural boycott?  Should film 
and media scholars participate in this boycott, thus also joining the 
BDS call for an academic boycott?  Why or why not?  What grounds and 
criteria should be supplied in gauging and evaluating the 
advisability and/or strategies and tactics of this particular boycott?

E-mail proposals for 10-minute position papers by August 25, 2011 to 
<t.ginsberg.1 at alumni.nyu.edu>.

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