Violent places: The politics of ‘framing’ postcolonial violence

Harshana Sassanka Rambukwella


International human rights discourse and journalistic discourse often represent violence as a 'flat' discourse. In many of these accounts victims and perpetrators are understood in binary terms with little attention to the specific histories and genealogies of violence that shape the experience of postcolonial violence. This article explores the representation of violence in two English language novels A Cause Untrue (2005) by David Blacker and Chats with the Dead (2020) by Shehan Karunatilake to critically interrogate the deep colonial lineages of how violence is understood and represented and why 'flat' victim-perpetrator binaries obscure highly contingent and contextually specific experiences of victimhood. In making this argument I critically adapt the notions of 'grievability' and 'frames of recognition' from the work of Judith Butler and also the notion of the 'implicated subject' from the work of Michael Rothberg.


violence, victim, perpetrator, history, colonialism, terror

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