The Impact of non-governmental writers’ organisations on free expression AHRC (Arts & Humanities Council janvier 2017-décembre 2021)

Responsables : Laetitia Zecchini, Rachel Potter and Peter D. McDonald

Focusing on writers’ organisations, most significantly but not exclusively International PEN, and funded by the AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council) the project “The Impact of non-governmental writers’ organisations on free expression” officially started in January 2017 for a period of 4 years.

General objective :
This project conducted with Rachel Potter (UEA) and Peter D. McDonald (Oxford) considers the history of writers’ activism since 1921 ; the current challenges they face in defending free speech ; the role writers’ organisations have played both in shaping internationalism since the 20s and in working to define or influence understandings of free expression. It brings together scholars, writers and activists with particular expertise in three geo-political areas, the UK, South Africa and India, in order to investigate these questions in their international dimensions.

While organisations like PEN have mobilised writers to campaign on behalf of censored works, of writers in exile or writers in prison, they have also been forums for passionate disagreements about the boundaries to free expression, the universality of rights, the function of literature, and the public role of literary intellectuals. Such historical and contemporary disagreements reveal important pressure points in the interpretation of the right to free expression. Through a comparative focus on the UK, South Africa and India, the idea is also to document the tensions between the national PEN centres and the humanistic / transnational values informing charters on free speech.

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE FOR THE AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council) PROJECT : “THE IMPACT OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL WRITERS’ ORGANISATIONS ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION” : Download

Project website/blog