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Activism and Literature (2023-)

Dîlan Canan Çakir, Research Area 5: "Building Digital Communities"
Postdoctoral Research Project

The project aims to systematically investigate the activist potential of literature by examining relevant authors and texts. It seeks to explore how literary imagination has influenced the work of activist authors and why political activism is closely intertwined with literary expression, taking into account often overlooked works that not only reflect societal issues but also serve as catalysts for change. Based on a shared goal, vision, history and experience of a particular segment of society, seeking change while simultaneously evolving over time, activist groups can be conceptualised as temporal communities. The composition and objectives of activists may change over time, but the shared history and experience often remain a unifying element. At the same time, activism involves long-term engagement characterised by various phases of mobilisation, campaigns, resistance, networks and achievements. Thus, activism has a transgenerational perspective, forging connections between generations. The project will contemplate the potential utilisation of digital approaches to dissect the attributes of activist literature. Additionally, the project will weigh the option of implementing network analysis to examine the interconnected relationships between activist authors, uncovering patterns and connections among individuals and texts actively employing literature for transformative purposes. The precise definition of activism proves to be a complex and multifaceted task, as it encompasses a wide array of actions, motivations and strategies that resist simplistic categorisation. This intricacy is acknowledged as a central facet of the project, which aims to not only explore activist literature but also critically reflect on the evolving and elusive nature of activism itself.