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Books and Agents

Thursday 9 September 2021

Discover how the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) and Franklin Book Programs used publishing for political agitation in the Cold War. The Congress for Cultural Freedom was an anti-communist cultural organisation later discovered to have been funded by the CIA. The Franklin Book Programs was a non-profit organisation which promoted American literature Africa, Asia, the Arab world and Latin America. In the current exhibition Fehras Publishing Practices explore the CCF’s archive and the organisation’s operations in the current exhibition and other forms of covert cultural diplomacy.

The event brings together three speakers, Nida Ghouse, Esmaeil Haddadian-Moghaddam and Elizabeth M. Holt who are researching archives and figures of the CCF, the Franklin Book Programs and Lotus magazine. They will reflect on the influence and decline of these transnational networks of publishing and translating. The discussion is moderated by Fehras Publishing Practices.

The Afro-Asian Writers Association (AAWA) was launched in Tashkent in 1958 with support from the participating countries of the 1955 Bandung Conference and other recently independent African and Asian states.The anti-colonial association called for bolstering publishing in African and Asian countries and as a result launched Lotus magazine in Cairo in 1968.

The Congress for Cultural Freedom, founded in 1950 in Berlin created networks by planning conferences and launching cultural magazines internationally. The CCF opened its first office in Beirut in 1954, followed by a Cairo office in 1959. These two offices formed the headquarters for its work in the region and the locations from which one of the most important projects in the Arab region was produced: the cultural magazine Hiwar (Dialogue).

The Franklin Book Programs was founded in New York as a non-profit organisation.  From 1952 to 1978 it promoted American culture by distributing books in Asia, parts of the Arab world, Africa and Latin America. This included the funding of translations and publication of mainly English books into other languages.


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