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'Traitors' of Justice and Graphic Ethnography

May 6, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Virtual Zoom Webinar (Pacific Time)
Nayanika Mookherjee

Conflict and Post-conflict situations are often marked by the urgency and need for reconciliation. But is reconciliation always linked to justice, peaceful processes or peaceful outcomes? How is the figure of the ‘traitor’ - ‘the enemy within’ – linked to the commonly conjoined twins of justice and reconciliation? What is the role of graphic ethnography in tracing these gaps and tumultuous configurations? What intertextual, intercitational registers do graphic novels draw on? The lecture will call into question the figuration of the ‘traitor’ ‘the enemy within’ - in that of the raped woman and ‘war-babies’ of the Bangladesh war. This will allow us to reflect on what implications this has for theorisations of long-term ‘transitional justice’ and reconciliation within historical and contemporary contexts. 


Nayanika Mookherjee is a Professor of Political Anthropology in Durham University and her research concerns an ethnographic exploration of public memories of violent pasts and aesthetic practices of reparative futures. She explores this through debates and engagement with gendered violence in conflicts, memorialisation and transnational adoption. Based on her book [The Spectral Wound. Sexual Violence, Public Memories and the Bangladesh War of 1971 (2015 Duke University Press; 2016 Zubaan)], in 2019 she has co-authored with a Bangladeshi visual artist - Najmunnahahr Keya - a survivor-led guideline, graphic novel and animation film: Birangona and ethical testimonies of sexual violence during conflict in Bangla and English which has received the 2019 Praxis Award from the Association of Professional Anthropologists. She has had fellowships with ESRC, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, British Academy, Leverhulme and the Rockerfeller Foundation at Bellagio. She has published extensively on anthropology of violence, ethics and aesthetics and has edited 4 special issues of journals. Currently, she is working on her manuscript Arts of Irreconciliation and as a British Academy Fellow is continuing her research on 1971, ‘war babies’ and transnational adoption.


This event is part of the Arts and Justice series, in which all speakers’ interrogations are timely explorations of religious freedom and the freedom of speech. How does the State condone, facilitate, and encourage religion, class, and caste based carceral violence? What is the role of the Arts in visibilizing this violence? This series builds on the Stanford Arts Institute’s program on carceral justice and takes the conversation to South Asia.


If you need a disability-related accommodation, please contact Requests should be made by April 29th.

Event Sponsor: 
Center for South Asia in collaboration with Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, and Institute for South Asia Studies, UC Berkeley
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