2014, Sat, Mar 15

From Chechnya to Syria

Jonathan Littell in conversation with Eyal Weizman

The literature of Jonathan Littell, especially his bestselling novel The Kindly Ones, is typified by a ferocious forensic sensibility to spaces, ruins, and the human body. In this conversation the origins of Littell’s literary sensibility will be traced to his work as a humanitarian during the Chechnya war and his subsequent war journalism in Syria and elsewhere.


Jonathan Littell is author of the novel Les Bienveillantes (Prix Goncourt and the Académie Française's Prix de Littérature, Éditions Gallimard, 2006), published in English as The Kindly Ones, as well as several other books. Previously he worked for the humanitarian agency Action Contre la Faim in Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Eyal Weizman is an architect, Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures, and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths University of London. Since 2011 he has also been directing Forensic Architecture as its principal investigator. He is a founding member of the architectural collective DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency), formed in 2007 in Beit Sahour, Palestine. His books include (with Thomas Keenan) Mengele’s Skull: The Advent of a Forensic Aesthetics (Sternberg Press, 2012), The Least of all Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza (Nottetempo 2009; Verso, 2011), Hollow Land (Verso, 2007), and A Civilian Occupation (Verso, 2003). He has worked with a variety of NGOs worldwide, and was a member of the B’Tselem board of directors. He studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London and completed his PhD at the London Consortium/Birkbeck College.