Purdue University professor Bill Mullen has written articles and books on a variety of subjects, including Asian and African American intersectionality and the working class struggle.
About Bill V. Mullen’s Publications
Professor Bill Mullen has published extensively on issues of class, race, Marxist theory, and identity politics. Below are descriptions of some of his more prominent articles and books. He is known for his interest in solidarity movements, such as the ties between Asian and African-American revolutionary thinkers, and university students with the Palestinian resistance. He tends to reexamine traditional interpretations of history and historical figures through a revisionist approach.
“Building the Palestinian International”
Bill Mullen’s “Building the Palestinian International” was originally published in the Social Text Journal of Periscope. Published on July 5th, 2012, it laments what he terms the “apartheid” situation in Israel, the “oppression” of Palestinians by the Israeli occupiers, the lack of progress in placing refugees, and other issues.
The article opens with a description of a replica of Picasso’s 1937 painting called “Guernica,” which commemorates the massacre of 1,600 civilians by Axis power forces. This version of the painting appears on a section of the separation wall by the Aida Refugee camp. Aida contains almost 5,000 Palestinian refugees who live under administration by the United National Relief Works Agency. The camp suffers from constant water shortages and sewer issues.
As such, Bill Mullen expresses being moved by what he sees as a close similarity between the situation portrayed in the painting replica and the reality on the ground. He perceives the authoritarianism of Nazi Germany as being akin to the “ethnic cleansing” of Israel against Palestinians. During Mullen’s visit to the Palestinian Territories, he met with Palestinians who expressed their desire to forge “international solidarity” with sympathizers who care about ending the occupation via the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.
He goes on to discuss the work of Jamal Juma, the coordinator of a grassroots campaign called Stop the Wall. It was formed in 2002 when Israel began building the separation wall, and calls for the immediate dismantling of the wall and return of lands seized in its constructions.
Another example of the international movement to support Palestine that Mullen cites is right2education. Its aim is to raise awareness of the difficulties Palestinian schoolchildren face in receiving a decent and accessible education under the occupation. The group is linked to the Campus Action Network which was created to foster solidarity between college students and Palestinians.
The article continues to expound on the various figures he met during his trip including Palestinian scholars, the founders of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI), and various Palestinian NGOs.
Against Apartheid: The Case for Boycotting Israeli Universities
Against Apartheid was edited by Bill V. Mullen and Ashley Dawson, with a foreword by Ali Abunimah. This collection of essays has contribution from multiple figures in the BDS movement including Salmin Vally, Mayssun Sukarieh, Magid Shihade, Lisa Taraki, Steven Salaita, Sami Hermez, Kristian Davis Bailey, Tithi Bhattacharya, Noura Erakat, and Omar Barghouti (the leader of BDS).
The book makes the argument that Israeli universities are complicit in maintaining the occupation and curbing academic freedom for Palestinians. It argues that students and academic professionals should stop doing business with Israeli universities and other institutions. It advocates for non-violent resistance, which the book claims is most effective in the form of BDS. By boycotting Israeli institutions, these writers hope that the people who supposedly profit from occupation will be pressured into giving up the West Bank settlements.
Bill Mullen’s book Afro-Orientalism, published in 2004, seeks to develop a theory of united African-American and Asian-American identity politics. He traces the origins of this seemingly unlikely bond back to W.E.B. Du Bois’s influential essay “The World Problem of the Color Line,” which sought to bring together the two groups into an international front against colonialism. The book also takes inspiration from Edward Said’s Orientalism. He following the African-American response to American imperialism through writings by Grace and James Boggs, Richard Wright, Robert F. Williams, and Fred Ho to combat the essentialist theories of postcolonial studies.
The first chapter deals with W.E.B. Du Bois’s writings, and the fraternal bond of Asians and Africans in the global struggle.
Chapter two deals with Richard Wright’s writing in exile on Africa and Asia, arguing in favor of historical materialism and non-Western views of the world.
Chapter three delves into the Bandung era between 1955 and 1973, and the socio-political relations between the Asian and African radicals that occurred during this period.
Chapter four examines the evolution of radical political thought that was born from Afro-American collaboration and correspondence through the example of James and Grace Lee Boggs.
Chapter five discusses the Asian American jazz player Fred Ho, the creator of the Afro-Asian Music Ensemble. In addition to his musical revolution, he devised a theory of cultural politics based on this unique fusion of the two ethnic groups, Marxism, and feminist theory.
Popular Fronts: Chicago and African American Cultural Politics 1935-1946
Professor Bill Mullen’s book Popular Fronts is a study of the Black Renaissance and radical politics in the Populist Front period. In his view, the cultural awakening of the 1930s and 1940s is the result of unity between African-Americans and liberal whites, which created the culture of the new “American Negro.”
The book re-examines Richard Wright’s political reputation, analyzes the class struggle that appears in Gwendolyn Brooks’ Street in Bronzeville, and the black popular front of Chicago including the prominent black newspaper the Chicago Defender, black-published short stories in the magazine “Negro Story,” and the South Side Community Art Center sponsored by the WPA.