• "Cairo and the Cultural Cold War for Afro-Asia," Routledge Handbook to the Global Sixties

    Elizabeth M. Holt (see profile)
    2019 MLA Convention
    Cold War (1945-1989), Arabic literature, Spying, Area studies
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    cairo, Bandung, Cold War, Surveillance studies, Afro-Asia, Global modernism
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    ABSTRACT Cultural cold war played out in Arabic from the late 1950s into the early 1970s in the conference halls, hotel lobbies, cafes, bars, magazine offices, publishing houses, kiosks, and streets of Beirut and Cairo. Berlin, Paris, Tashkent, Khartoum, London, Baghdad1, and Tunis all have their place in this built landscape of cultural cold war. In its focus on Beirut and especially Cairo, though, this chapter follows the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization, their Soviet-funded Afro-Asian Writers Association (AAWA), and the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) there. Looking to redirect the “Bandung spirit” of third world independence, John Hunt, undercover CIA agent at the CCF’s Paris headquarters, underscored the centrality of the Arab world to the Congress’s propaganda of cultural freedom: “no one needs to convince me of the importance of doing our work in Cairo.”1 Looking to co-opt the emerging, increasingly decolonizing third world as they widened the purview of the cultural cold war far beyond the borders of postwar Europe, the Congress for Cultural Freedom sent prominent African American novelist and essayist Richard Wright to the April 1955 Bandung Conference and began publishing Latin American and Indian journals by the mid-1950s. As Afro-Asia was just coming together in solidarity at Bandung, nonaligning itself from the Soviet and American global axes of power as from the yoke of their former colonizers, eyes toward Mao, it was at the same time becoming both a theater and a target of cultural cold war.
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