Department of Comparative Literature
My dissertation, “At the Limits of the Human Rights Regime: Perpetrator Perspectives in Contemporary Literatures and Visual Cultures”, articulates a decolonial critique of the discourse of human rights. I work with novels, films, and comics from the Global South, from authors such as Ahmadou Kourouma, Yvonne Vera, Joe Sacco, and Joshua Oppenheimer, which represent atrocities using the distinct perspectives of the perpetrators. I argue that these works interrogate the victim/perpetrator binary so as to focus attention on the historical and material processes that produce mass violence. By unravelling the figure of the individual perpetrator, and centering structures of violence and responsibility, I gesture to alternative articulations of rights. The aesthetic properties of literary texts in this context serve to underwrite new political imaginaries of the human, its recognition, and the archive of its memory.