Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Living on the Margins: Using literary comics to understand the role of borderland brokers in post-war transitions

Fri Oct 07 15:15:00 BST 2016

comic of a man standing on a rooftop above crowds of people

Image taken from 'A Perilous Journey' by PositiveNegatives, funded by Norwegian People's Aid.


Oliver Walton has received a PACCS Innovation Award from the AHRC and ESRC for a new 18-month project that uses literary comics to understand the role of ‘borderland brokers’ in post-war transitions. The project is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund. The research is being conducted in Nepal and Sri Lanka in collaboration with Jonathan Goodhand and James Caron at SOAS, and Ben Dix, the Director of PositiveNegatives, an organisation that produces literary comics about social and human rights issues.

This project aims to improve understanding of, and policy responses, to post-war transitions in Nepal and Sri Lanka. It examines how key local actors from peripheral regions - or 'borderland brokers' - respond to, and help shape changing centre-periphery relations in post-war transitions. It adopts an innovative analytical and methodological approach to documenting the life histories of these brokers - who include local businessmen, administrators, civil society leaders or politicians - by using literary comic strips to develop narratives that are co-produced by respondents and local artists.

As well as providing a novel approach for generating compelling accounts of brokers' lives and the wider post-war transitions that they shape, the literary comics will also present unique opportunities to engage policy audiences and the general public. The project will therefore help to shape unfolding national and international policy debates relating to post-war transitions in Nepal and Sri Lanka on themes such as transitional justice, devolution, and inclusive post-war development.