Djelal Kadir


On his book Memos from the Besieged City: Lifelines for Cultural Sustainability

Cover Interview of April 19, 2011

In a nutshell

Memos from the Besieged City is a series of “reports” to and about certain cultural ancestors whose work has defined cultural traditions and practices in the humanities and human sciences.

The book’s subtitle is “Lifelines for Cultural Sustainability.”  And that is because the writers I address here offer some of the most vital lifelines for the survival of human culture and humane existence.

Many of these cultural ancestors have forged their legacy for the future at their own peril—some persecuted, exiled, imprisoned, or burnt at the stake. These are lifelines that must be extended and cultivated, in turn, to ensure the sustainability of our own humanity and our legacy for future generations.

The “memos” trace the itinerary of certain key notions of literacy and culture and assess their status in the present.  How well this inheritance has fared and is currently faring may indicate how well we fare into the future as a civilization.

As part of a global conversation in the ethics of intellectual commitment, the findings of this exploration are focused through the protocols of the discipline of comparative literature, broadly defined as the investigation and study of cultures and their literary traditions as they relate to each other across national formations, languages, historical periods, and geographical boundaries.