The Politics of Boycotts

Cover of issue 134, Politics of Boycotts

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This issue of Radical History Review investigates the connected histories of anti-racist and anti-imperialist boycotts. From the original Captain Boycott to the struggles for justice in Israel/Palestine, boycotts have challenged global empire through a popular politics of refusal.

In their editors’ introduction, Natalie Rothman and Andrew Zimmerman situate boycotts in a long history of active, anti-imperialist refusal across diverse geopolitical formations. Four stunning posters in support of boycott movements in southern Africa, Indonesia, Argentina, and Israel/Palestine punctuate their narrative.

Poet Taha Muhammad Ali invites us to think about the intimate politics of refusal and recognition in his 2006 poem, “Revenge.”

Andrew Phemister studies the Irish struggle that coined the term “boycott.” Abdel Razzaq Takriti explores the long colonial genealogies of Palestinian anti-Zionist boycotts. Michael Bueckert’s study of the ANC shows how boycotts create transnational anti-Apartheid solidarities. Stephen Pascoe analyzes how Gandhi inspired boycotts in French Mandate Damascus. Allyson Brantley opens up the aesthetic cultures of resistance in her study of ephemera in the Coors beer boycott.

Joseph Parrott interviews Rev. Richard Righter, a boycott organizer against Gulf Oil.

Reflections on BDS
Mikki Stelder, Ilana Feldman, Amro Sadeldeen, Peter Makhlouf, and Jeffrey Sacks offer insights on the BDS movement, from Queer Palestinian activism at the 2012 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, to Birzeit University, to the Modern Language Association’s rejection of BDS in 2017.

Cover: Southern Africa Liberation Committee, “Boycott Coca-Cola” (East Lansing, Michigan, 1985). From the African Activist Archive Project, Michigan State University ( Reproduced with the permission of David Wiley, a former member of the Southern Africa Liberation Committee.