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“I’m only a dog!” : the Rwandan genocide, dehumanisation and the graphic novel

Munslow Ong, JM 2016, '“I’m only a dog!” : the Rwandan genocide, dehumanisation and the graphic novel' , The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 51 (2) , pp. 211-225.

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Abstract

Graphic novels written in response to the 1994 Rwandan genocide do not confine their depictions of traumatic violence to humans, but extend their coverage to show how the genocide impacted on animals and the environment. Through analysis of the presentation of people and their relationships with other species across a range of graphic narratives, this article shows how animal imagery was used to justify inhumane actions during the genocide, and argues that representations of animals remain central to the recuperation processes in a post-genocide context too. Whilst novels and films that respond to the genocide have been the focus of scholarly work (Dauge-Roth, 2010), the graphic novel has yet to receive substantial critical attention. This article therefore unlocks the archive of French-, Dutch- and English-language graphic narratives written in response to the genocide by providing the first in-depth, comparative analysis of their animal representations. It draws on recent methodological approaches derived from philosophy (Derrida, [2008] trans. 2009), postcolonial ecocriticism (Huggan and Tiffin, 2010) and postcolonial trauma theory (Craps, 2012) in order show how human-centred strategies for recovery, and associated symbolic orders that forcefully position the animal outside of human law, continue to engender unequal and potentially violent relationships between humans, and humans and other species. In this way, graphic narratives that gesture towards more equitable relationships between humans, animals and the environment can be seen to support the processes of recovery and reconciliation in post-genocide Rwanda.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Genocide, Graphic novel, Rwanda, Animal, Postcolonial, Ecocriticism, Trauma, Derrida
Themes: Memory, Text and Place
Subjects outside of the University Themes
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Journal or Publication Title: The Journal of Commonwealth Literature
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0021-9894
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: J Munslow Ong
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2015 17:41
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2016 08:02
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/36797

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