Literatures of Annihilation, Exile, and Resistance is an interdisciplinary research collective and lecture series focused on questions of human rights and the arts in the global Middle East/Southwest Asia and North Africa. Launched by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, it is co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters and by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and housed at the Initiative on Race and Resilience, directed by Mark Sanders, Professor of English and Africana Studies.


Literatures of Annihilation, Exile, and Resistance focuses on contemporary literature, film, and visual art that has been shaped by revolutionary and resistance movements, decolonization, migration, class and economic warfare, communal and state-sanctioned violence, and human rights violations.

The series brings together Middle Eastern/Southwest Asian and North African writers and artists, both migrants and those situated in the region, together with those based in the U.S., with an emphasis on writers and artists of color. The larger aim of the series is to examine how writers and artists innovate the technology of the novel and the poem as well as other expressive mediums in the process of responding to systemic violence. In doing so, we aim to theorize new modes of contemporary literary and artistic resistance across national borders and to amplify the voices of scholars, artists, and writers whose lived experience is instrumental in forging new alliances across formal, linguistic and national boundaries.

Guiding Questions

  • What is a responsible aesthetic of documentation, counter-mapping, and commemoration in the face of atrocity?
  • How do literary, visual, and sound artists navigate the myriad restrictions placed on expression in order to translate the pain of communal and state-sanctioned violence into art and language?
  • What narrative strategies do literatures of annihilation, exile, and resistance engage?
  • How are memory, temporality, and spatiality reimagined in narratives of resistance and testimony?
  • Are literary and visual arts a form of “archive,” and if so what is the archival work of the writer or the artist in the context of violence and annihilation?
  • How have writers, filmmakers, graphic novelists, painters, sound and performance artists productively challenged grammars of denial and the politics of erasure?
  • How do literary and artistic practices confront the challenge of displacement, subjugation, and cultural erasure by creating new sites of memory, knowledge production, and visions of reconstruction?
  • What does a responsible pedagogy of such expressive forms of art look like?
  • How can we draw from the materials we are engaging with to present new pedagogic models that examine and confront racist assumptions and practices?
  • What are productive modes of collaboration among writers and artists responding to human rights violations and scholars of peace studies?

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge our presence on the traditional homelands of Native peoples including the Haudenosauneega, Miami, Peoria, and particularly the Pokagon Potawatomi who have been using this land for thousands of years and continue to do so. We recognize our own place in the history and practices of colonialism and understand that our responsibilities extend beyond this gesture of land acknowledgment. We must also reflect on the University of Notre Dame’s past, present, and future relationship with the original stewards of this land and actively pursue ways to amend this troubled relationship.