Suzannah Henty & Gary Foley
It is our honour to present this collaborative edition On Solidarity with 28 Magazine. This edition is the first published outcome in Palestine following the Black-Palestinian Solidarity conference that was held at the University of Melbourne, (6–8, November 2019).
Over the course of THREE intense days in late spring, a group of more than forty historians, academics, artists, activists, designers, architects, and poets flew in to Narrm from Palestine, Jordan, Turtle Island, Europe, and all across so-called Australia to discuss, debate, and reflect on what transnational solidarity and anti-colonial resistance means in theory and practice.
The central focus of the conference was to restate the longstanding solidarity between First Nation peoples and Palestinians, to explore decoloniality as a freedom and justice-based theory, articulate Zionist appropriation of Indigeneity as erasure , enable and encourage the establishment of new relationships, and critically engage with forms of resistance against imperialism in its colonial, capitalist, neo-colonial, nationalist, and neo-liberal manifestations, from Djap Wurrung to Al-Quds, Gaza to Ferguson, Rojava to West Papua, Chiapas to Kanaky, Standing Rock to Aleppo.
As collaborators and convenors of the conference, at the heart of this project were the following questions: What is the praxis of solidarity? In what ways can we challenge racial, ethnic, sex, and gender hierarchies by unlearning? What is an anticolonial epistemology? While the answers are often rotated as self-evident—liberation, justice, etc.…—these are not adequate answers to avoid what the Palestinian epistemologist Mudar Kassis calls “immature resistance”.
Applying theory to practice first requires practice. This loop enables learning and greater nuance to answer, but it first requires listening. Many of us face challenges in mapping and establishing anticolonial and post-capital infrastructures due to the neoliberal structures that confine us. Our work as activist, scholars, and pedagogues are challenged by corporate educational institutions to which we are bound—even as precariously employed casual workers. No better example of this was the very process of organising the conference on the unceded land of the Wurundjeri in the Eastern Kulin Nation and in Brussels, Belgium. Both landscapes are haunted with the ghosts of the colonial past and present. In his talk at the conference entitled “The Museum of Colonial Necrophilia”, Professor Ghassan Hage reflected on how just as a gift carries the spirit of the giver, the stolen land carries the spectre of frontier wars. This spectre of violence is manifest in the structures of the settler-colonial nation-state, which in turn, becomes its lifeblood. With the conference and this edition, we endeavoured to recognise and challenge these spectres to experiment with what an anti-colonial epistemology might look like by engaging-with, theorising-with, and actioning-with.
As organisers, our collaboration was not without issue. We faced opposition from within and outside our respective communities. On the first day the conference, human rights advocate and Palestinian-Lebanese scholar Jeanine Hourani, who was working as part of the conference, found the official posters for the conference vandalised with slogans representing Zionist ideology. In response, some of us laughed, some of us shook with fury but to borrow the words of Professor Rabab Abdulhadi who keynoted the conference: It only demonstrated that we made some noise. Indeed, in the moments of fracture and slippage, Franz Fanon tells us, decolonization happens.
With each presentation by the participants in front of a packed auditorium; over Hana Assafiri’s (Moroccan Soup Bar) famous fatteh and Rasha Tayeh’s (Beit e’Shai) tea in the Old Quadrangle; dancing at the Centre for Postcolonial Studies; the film screening at Cinema Nova in partnership with the Palestinian Film Festival (the first time Aboriginal films were screened as part of this program) and at the satellite events with Averroes Centre of Arab Culture and the Australian Jewish Democratic Society, friendships were forged that led to this edition.
This special edition with 28 Magazine does not only take its theoretical foundation from the conference, but also comes after Mahmoud M Al Shaer, founder of 28 Magazine, was introduced to us by Palestinian author and art historian, Dr Adania Shibli, who presented at the conference and also features in this edition. This introduction was not a light-hearted gesture or an off-handed recommendation. Adania made it clear that we go into this collaboration knowing that Mahmoud and his team at 28 Magazine are more like a family.
What follows are a collection of reflections that resists the structures that sustain settler-colonialism in its various manifestations: police brutality, incarceration, militarized architecture, environmental destruction, borders, performative reconciliation. These articles ask: How can we repair? How can we resist these oppressive forces? What is the role of solidarity in this process? The radical thinkers in this edition ruminate on these questions to consider how transnational solidarity involves the uprooting of colonial epistemologies, which enables us to better articulate our struggles, organise our resistance, and imagine our future. What ties this edition together is the recognition that community care is resistance. As Aja Monet writes “to nurture is to resist.” We thrive towards those words in this edition.
Finally, we would like to pay tribute to long suffering Indigenous peoples’ past and present who are living under occupation. Their resilience and perseverance is what always has, and always will, motivate and inspire us. We would also like to personally thank Mahmoud M Al Shaer, Brianna Hoff, the team at 28 Magazine, the generous and staunch contributors in this edition, and to the readers.