1st Edition

The Human Rights Graphic Novel Drawing it Just Right

By Pramod K. Nayar Copyright 2021
    222 Pages
    by Routledge India

    222 Pages
    by Routledge India

    This book studies human rights discourse across a variety of graphic novels, both fiction and non-fiction, originating in different parts of the world, from India to South Africa, Sarajevo to Vietnam, with texts on the Holocaust, the Partition of the Indian subcontinent, the Rwandan and Sarajevan genocides, the Vietnam War,  comfort women in World War II and the Civil Rights movement in the USA, to mention a few.

    The book demonstrates the emergence of the ‘universal’ subject of human rights, despite the variations in contexts. It shows how war, rape, genocide, abuse, social iniquity, caste and race erode personhood in multiple ways in the graphic novel, which portrays the construction of vulnerable subjects, the cultural trauma of collectives, the crisis and necessity of witnessing, and resilience-resistance through specific representational and aesthetic strategies. It covers a large number of authors and artists: Joe Sacco, Joe Kubert, Matt Johnson-Walter Pleece, Guy Delisle, Appupen, Thi Bui, Olivier Kugler and others. Through a study of these vastly different authors and styles, the book proposes that the graphic novel as a form is perfectly suited to the ‘culture’ and the lingua franca of human rights due to its amenability to experimentation and the sheer range within the form. 

    The book will appeal to scholars in comics studies, human rights studies, visual culture studies and to the general reader with an interest in these fields. 

    1. Introduction: Graphic Humans and Rights 2. Staging Vulnerability – I: Corporeality, Debodiment and Ruination 3. Staging Vulnerability – II: Dignity, Humiliation and Dehumanization 4. Cultural Trauma: Victims, Memory and Materials 5. Witnessing: Spaces, Response-ability and Testimony 6. Resilient Resistance: Subjects, Assembly and Protest Conclusion: The Face of Human Rights. Bibliography


    Pramod K. Nayar teaches at the Department of English, University of Hyderabad, India. His most recent books include Indian Travel Writing in the Age of Empire, 1830–1940 (2020); Ecoprecarity: Vulnerable Lives in Culture and Literature (Routledge, 2019); Brand Postcolonial: ‘Third World’ Texts and the Global (2018); Bhopal’s Ecological Gothic: Disaster, Precarity and the Biopolitical Uncanny (2017); Human Rights and Literature: Writing Rights (2016); Citizenship and Identity in the Age of Surveillance (2015); Posthumanism (2013); Frantz Fanon (2013); the edited collections, Colonial Education and India, 1781–1945 (Routledge, 2019); Women in Colonial India: Historical Documents and Sources (Routledge, 2014); and Writing Wrongs: The Cultural Constructions of Human Rights in India (Routledge, 2012).

    'Prolific polymath, Pramod K. Nayar has done it again! Deploying his trademark nimble and piercing humanistic analytic lens, he peels back and vitally reveals how graphic narratives forcefully wake us to the traumas of our planet’s most vulnerable. In an awe-inspiring sweep of comics from Africa and Asia as well as the Indian Subcontinent, Middle East, Balkans, and Indigenous Americas Nayar beautifully articulates powerfully generative concepts that enrich deeply our sense of how visual shaping devices like the panel function as more than windows to witness brutalities, humiliations, genocides. They wake us to new ways of perceiving, thinking, and feeling that deeply connect us with the most vulnerable. They wake us to action. Nayar does with Comics Studies what Judith Butler and Barbara Harlow have done for human rights and the humanities. A must-read tour de force!'Frederick Luis Aldama, Distinguished University Professor, Ohio State University, and Eisner Award winner for the best scholarly work in Comics Studies