Dawes: That the World May Know, 3 Discussion Points

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Kay Hung
Dawes: That the World May Know, 3 Discussion Points
  • 1) In the first chapter, Dawes brings up key questions regarding the moral obligation or responsibility that comes with storytelling - namely: Do I have the right to talk about this? What gives me the moral authority to tell this story? How do I prove authenticity to my readers? (Dawes 24). The responsibility of representation is in tension with the fact that the story is out of the author's control once it is released to the public. How do we begin to map where the author's responsibility begins and ends?
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  • 2) "People wanted to remain human beings and not become characters... Literature can make things more beautiful and acceptable." - Diop (Dawes 27). Survivors can be hesitant to relay their stories to writers for fear of being misrepresented. How does a writer navigate the balance between creating an engaging narrative that may be romanticized and sticking to the facts? One may argue that representation and storytelling - even though it may not reflect the objective truth 100% of the time - is better than no representation at all in raising awareness of trauma or violations of human rights. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this argument?
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  • 3) One critique of human rights from David Rieff is that the "increased politicization of humanitarian intervention has made it a supplement of national foreign policies - a justification for and extension of new imperialisms" (Dawes 137). Can humanitarian efforts function without the involvement of politics? This brings back the paradox of human rights where a person existing outside the law has all the "universal, inalienable human rights" and no means to enforce them while a citizen of the state has political rights - though these rights may not completely cover all inalienable rights. Although human rights serve to the people, can the political framework also be used to control them? 

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