28 Mar

ISA 2016: Illustrating Human Rights in Conflict Zones: La Lucha and the Fight to End Violence Against Women in Mexico

The following is the abstract for the second paper I presented at this year’s Annual International Studies Association Conference:

The issue of human rights is often overlooked in the study of conflict, particularly those relating to individuals who work to defend human rights on a daily basis.  Similarly, certain ‘wars’ are afforded more time and attention than others, with regions that experience high levels of violence against women receiving far less attention.  La Lucha is a graphic novel that tells the story of the struggle for women’s rights in Northern Mexico, where Chihuahua and Juarez have consistently been two of the most dangerous cities in the world for over a decade.

This paper examines the use of the graphic novel form, taking the case of La Lucha, in representing the otherwise invisible work of women human rights defenders who risk their lives to promote justice.  In doing so the paper assesses the ways in which La Lucha seeks to engage storytelling as a means of educating and campaigning for human rights and of countering narratives that seek to harass and defame human rights defenders.  This paper argues that popular culture and storytelling offer important insights into world events and should not be overlooked in international studies.


Key words: human rights, violence against women, graphic novel, counter-narrative, Mexico