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date: 22 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In the twentieth-century Arabic-speaking world, communism animated anticolonial revolutions, workers’ organizations, guerrilla movements, and international solidarity. The communist dream was cut short by Arab governments, deals with global superpowers, the rise of religious fundamentalism, and historical bad luck. But recently a remarkable number of Arab filmmakers have turned their attention to the history of the radical Left. Filmmakers from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco have been urgently seeking models for grassroots politics in the labor movements, communist parties, and secular armed resistance of earlier generations. This coda explores two strata of communist audiovisual praxis: the radical cinema that supported labor movements and guerrilla actions from the 1950s to the 1980s, and recent films that draw on that earlier movement. The coda argues that the Arab audiovisual archive holds flashes of communism that have been neither fulfilled nor entirely extinguished. The new films release their unspent energy into the present, diagnosing earlier failures of Arab communism and making plans for new forms of solidarity.

Keywords: Arab communism, radical Left, Arab cinema, labor movement, audiovisual archive

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