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A cat-and-Maus game: the politics of truth and reconciliation in post-conflict comics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Henry Alexander Redwood, Alister Wedderburn

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-606
Number of pages19
JournalReview of International Studies (Cambridge University Press
Volume45
Issue number4
Early online date14 May 2019
DOIs
Accepted/In press15 Feb 2019
E-pub ahead of print14 May 2019
Published1 Oct 2019

King's Authors

Abstract

Several scholars have raised concerns that the institutional mechanisms through which transitional justice is commonly promoted in post-conflict societies can alienate affected populations. Practitioners have looked to bridge this gap by developing ‘outreach’ programmes, in some instances commissioning comic books in order to communicate their findings to the people they seek to serve. In this article, we interrogate the ways in which post-conflict comics produce meaning about truth, reconciliation, and the possibilities of peace, focusing in particular on a comic strip published in 2005 as part of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report into the causes and crimes of the 1991–2002 Civil War. Aimed at Sierra Leonean teenagers, the Report tells the story of ‘Sierrarat’, a peaceful nation of rats whose idyllic lifestyle is disrupted by an invasion of cats. Although the Report displays striking formal similarities with Art Spiegelman's Maus (a text also intimately concerned with reconciliation, in its own way), it does so to very different ends. The article brings these two texts into dialogue in order to explore the aesthetic politics of truth and reconciliation, and to ask what role popular visual media like comics can play in their practice and (re)conceptualisation.

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