Lotus was a trilingual political and cultural magazine which existed between 1968 and 1991. The magazine with three language editions was published in different countries: Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia and German Democratic Republic. It contained one of the early postcolonial literary criticisms employing non-Eurocentric modes.[1]

  • Political magazine
  • Cultural magazine
FounderAfro-Asian Writers' Association
First issueMarch 1968
Final issue1991
Based in

History and profile


The first issue of the magazine appeared in March 1968 with the title Afro-Asian Writings.[2][3] The magazine was established by the Afro-Asian Writers' Association (AAWA).[4][5] Its foundation was first proposed at the Association's inaugural meeting held in Tashkent, Soviet Union, in 1958.[6] The goal of the magazine was to support the Afro-Asian solidarity and nonalignment which had been stated in the Bandung Conference in 1955.[7] It was published on a quarterly basis and had three language editions: Arabic, English, and French.[2][8] Of them the English edition was started first[9] and the Arabic edition was initially headquartered in Cairo.[10] The other two were published in the German Democratic Republic.[11][12] The magazine was financed by Egypt, the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic.[11] In 1970 the magazine was renamed as Lotus with the subtitle Afro-Asian Writings[2] from the sixth issue.[9][13] The permanent bureau of the AAWA in Cairo was its publisher until 1973.[1]

Lotus contained the sections of "studies", "short stories", "poetry", "art", "book reviews" and "documents.[9] The first issue of the magazine featured an article by Léopold Sédar Senghor and Yusuf Sibai, founding editor of the magazine, which was about the meaning of the African identity.[14] The magazine published the text of a talk by Ghassan Kanafani on resistance literature presented at the Soviet-sponsored Afro-Asian Writers' Association conference held in Beirut in March 1967.[15]

On 18 February 1978 Yusuf Sibai was assassinated in Nicosia, Cyprus,[16] and Pakistani writer Faiz Ahmad Faiz assumed the post.[4][12] He remained as the editor of the Lotus until his death in 1984[12] and was succeeded by Ziyad Abdel Fattah in the post.[17] Fattah edited the magazine until its closure.[9]

The headquarters of the Arabic edition was in Cairo until October 1978 and was moved to Beirut following the sign of the Camp David Accords.[6][11] In Beirut the Union of Palestinian Writers published the magazine which remained there until the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.[11] Then the magazine together with the Palestine Liberation Organization moved to Tunis, Tunisia, but soon after was relocated to Cairo.[4][11] The English and French editions of the magazine disappeared in the mid-1980s.[7] The Arabic edition of Lotus folded in 1991[2] after the collapse of the Soviet Union ending its financial support.[13][18]



Although the contributors were mostly Arab writers from Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria and Sudan who were the members of the Afro-Asian Writers' Association,[5] there were also non-Arab editors from various countries, including Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Japan, India, Mongolia and the Soviet Union.[4] Major contributors of Lotus included Mahmoud Darwish, Ghassan Kanafani, Samih Al Qasim,[19] Adunis, Edward El Kharrat, Mulk Raj Anand, Ousmane Sembène, Alex La Guma, Hiroshi Noma, Anatoly Sofronov, Ahmed Sékou Touré and Agostinho Neto.[4]

Views and legacy


Lotus billed itself as a "militant" periodical opposing the "cultural imperialism" and attempting to achieve a "revolution of construction."[9] Its contributors considered the 20 century as a period of the new colonialism which made use of the commodification of culture accompanied by the expansion of the global marketplace.[3] They opposed the economic imperialism which had penetrated into the cultural sphere.[3] The magazine fully supported the view that the Soviet Union should be modeled by other nations in that it achieved a cultural and social condition which minority groups and their cultural heritage were respected.[18] It was also argued that the Soviet Union had higher levels of educational and economic development, gender equality and respect for artists.[18]

Lotus paid a special attention to the Vietnamese and Palestinian writing and emphasized the similarity between them in terms of revolutionary movements.[1]

Some issues of the Arabic edition have been archived at American University of Beirut.[4]

In 2016 a magazine with the same title was launched by the Association of African, Asian and Latin American Writers in Lebanon.[2]

See also



  1. ^ a b c Rebecca C. Johnson (2021). "Cross-Revolutionary Reading: Visions of Vietnam in the Transnational Arab Avant-Garde". Comparative Literature. 73 (3): 366, 368. doi:10.1215/00104124-8993990.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Lotus: Afro-Asian Writings" (in French). Global Journals Portal. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Nesrine Chahine (2017). Marketplaces of The Modern: Egypt As Marketplace In Twentieth-Century Anglo-Egyptian Literature (PhD thesis). University of Pennsylvania. p. 116.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Firoze Manji (3 March 2014). "The Rise and Significance of Lotus". CODESRIA. Archived from the original on 9 June 2021. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  5. ^ a b Jens Hanssen; Hicham Safieddine (Spring 2016). "Lebanon's al-Akhbar and Radical Press Culture: Toward an Intellectual History of the Contemporary Arab Left". The Arab Studies Journal. 24 (1): 196. JSTOR 44746852.
  6. ^ a b M.J. Ernst; Rossen Djagalov (2022). "The Road to Lotus: Faiz Ahmad Faiz's Magazine Proposal to the Soviet Writers Union". Interventions. International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. 25 (6): 699–718. doi:10.1080/1369801X.2021.2015701. S2CID 252802903.
  7. ^ a b Monica Popescu (2020). At Penpoint. African Literatures, Postcolonial Studies, and the Cold War. Durham; London: Duke University Press. p. 48. doi:10.1515/9781478012153. ISBN 978-1-4780-0940-5.
  8. ^ Elizabeth M. Holt (Fall 2019). "Al-Ṭayyib Ṣāliḥ's Season of Migration to the North, the CIA, and the Cultural Cold War after Bandung". Research in African Literatures. 50 (3): 72. doi:10.2979/reseafrilite.50.3.07. S2CID 216711624.
  9. ^ a b c d e Maryam Fatima (August 2022). "Institutionalizing Afro-Asianism: Lotus and the (Dis)Contents of Soviet-Third World Cultural Politics". Comparative Literature Studies. 59 (3): 450, 453. doi:10.5325/complitstudies.59.3.0447. S2CID 251852541.
  10. ^ Nida Ghouse (15 June 2014). "Lotus Notes: Part Two A". Mada Masr. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d e Nida Ghouse (October 2016). "Lotus Notes". ARTMargins. 5 (3): 82–91. doi:10.1162/ARTM_a_00159. S2CID 57558937.
  12. ^ a b c Sumayya Kassamali (31 May 2016). ""You Had No Address"". Caravan Magazine. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  13. ^ a b Hala Halim (2012). "Lotus, the Afro-Asian Nexus, and Global South Comparatism". Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 32 (3): 566. doi:10.1215/1089201x-1891570. S2CID 143828790.
  14. ^ Sophia Azeb (Fall 2019). "Crossing the Saharan Boundary: Lotus and the Legibility of Africanness". Research in African Literatures. 50 (3): 91. doi:10.2979/reseafrilite.50.3.08. S2CID 216745713.
  15. ^ Elizabeth M. Holt (2021). "Resistance Literature and Occupied Palestine in Cold War Beirut". Journal of Palestine Studies. 50 (1): 3–4. doi:10.1080/0377919X.2020.1855933. S2CID 233302736.
  16. ^ "Youssef El Sebai". State Information Service. 20 July 2009. Archived from the original on 24 October 2021. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  17. ^ "Rossen Djagalov. The Afro-Asian Writers Association and Its Literary Field". syg.ma. 15 July 2021. Archived from the original on 12 July 2022. Retrieved 12 July 2022.
  18. ^ a b c Peter J. Kalliney (2022). The Aesthetic Cold War. Princeton, NJ; Oxford: Princeton University Press. pp. 82–84. doi:10.1515/9780691230641-005. ISBN 9780691230641.
  19. ^ Raid M. H. Nairat; Ibrahim S. I. Rabaia (2023). "Palestine and Russia". In Gülistan Gürbey; Sabine Hofmann; Ferhad Ibrahim Seyder (eds.). Between Diplomacy and Non-Diplomacy. Foreign relations of Kurdistan-Iraq and Palestine. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 190. doi:10.1007/978-3-031-09756-0_9. ISBN 978-3-031-09756-0.