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Human Rights, Inc.

, and: That the World May Know: Bearing Witness to Atrocity (review)
Eleni Coundouriotis

Human Rights Quarterly, Volume 30, Number 4, November 2008, pp. 1002-1011 (Article) Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press DOI: 10.1353/hrq.0.0049

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Joseph R. Slaughter, Human Rights, Inc. (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007) 435 pp.; James Dawes, That the World May Know: Bearing Witness to Atrocity (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2007), 289 pp.
Joseph Slaughters Human Rights, Inc. (winner of the 2008 Ren Wellek Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association) argues that human rights as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the United Nations Covenants defined the modern individual in a manner that mirrors the literary genre of the novel of formation, or the Bildungsroman. Human rights and the Bildungsroman are mutually reinforcing ideological constructs, which according to Slaughter, argue for the persons inclusion and enfranchisement in the nation state, a process he calls the incorporation of the individual and which structures the human rights plot, a narrative pattern implicit in the formulation of human rights law. Thus human rights and the Bildungsroman are mutually enabling fictions that

institutionalize and naturalize the terms of incorporation in (and exclusion from) an imagined community of readers and rights holders.1 Because the subject of human rights is the individual, its project has helped historically to contain the potential for revolution, what Slaughter calls act[s] of collective self-assertion.2 Where human rights has become hegemonic, the impulse to collective action is redirected and manifests itself instead as socially acceptable modes of narrative protest that make individual claims on the state.3 Slaughter highlights what he calls the institutional conservatism of human rights law,4 the origins of which he sees in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789) that legalized an operative distinction between man and citizen creating a paradoxical historical figure of Enlightenment civil subjectivity that is neither man nor citizen.5 Slaughter relies here on the critique of this document by tienne Balibar who argued that the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen invented the Citizen Subject, a figure who although no longer subjected to the authority of a king is not yet a citizen but must prove himself, or develop into, a citizen.6 In France,

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Joseph R. slaughteR, human Rights, inc. 328 (2007). Id. at 91. Id. Id. Id. at 110. tienne Balibar, Citizen Subject, in Who comes afteR the subJect? 3357 (Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor, & Jean-Luc Nancy eds., 1991). Slaughter also cites Karl Marx on this point when Slaughter explains the story that the Universal Declaration plots as the free and full development of the human personality, an idealist plot to repair the division of civil man from its juridical abstraction. slaughteR, supra note 1, at 90 (emphasis added).

Human Rights Quarterly 30 (2008) 10021062 2008 by The Johns Hopkins University Press


Book Reviews


this meant to own property and to be educated; in Germany, which provides the literary-cultural model that Slaughter draws from, there was no centralized state in the late eighteenth-century and thus the qualifying criterion was Bildung . . . a philosophy for the positivizing of human nature.7 Indeed Slaughter sees Bildung as a response to the violence of the French Revolution, a reactionary alternative to revolution, which reinforces the project of human rights because both Bildung and human rights law share the same pacific spirit.8 Slaughters study provides a strikingly different narrative for the linkage of human rights to literary culture than the one given by Lynn Hunt in her widely reviewed history, Inventing Human Rights (2007). Hunt examines the epistolary novel of the eighteenth century, in particular Samuel Richardsons influence in France, and argues that the epistolary novel fore grounded inter-subjectivity and taught its audience new ways of imagining equality, which led in turn to the formulation of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man. Hunts argument also draws from the growing disapprobation of torture in the eighteenth century that illustrates radically new attitudes towards the body. Hunt, therefore, looks squarely at English and French literary culture of the eighteenth century and at a genre (the epistolary novel) which became peripheral in the nineteenth century onwards as the novel became more focused on the individuals interiority. Although Slaughter, as I show below, also takes a reference point from the English novel
7. 8. 9.

Robinson Crusoe, he places the German idea of Bildung at the center of his history and discusses it as a reaction to the French Revolution. Slaughters model enables him to suggest a much fuller narrative for the nineteenth century as the Bildungsroman form attained canonical status,9 and transformed the genre into the world novel referred to in Slaughters title. However, like Hunt, Slaughter also ultimately places his primary focus away from the nineteenth century. His primary interest is the period following the UDHR and in particular postcolonial novels which serve to critique and extend the idealist Bildungsroman of the earlier periods. Slaughter provides a lucid discussion of the text considered the first Bildungsroman, Johan Wolfgang von Goethes Wilhelm Meisters Apprenticeship (originally published 179596). In the novel, Goethes young protagonist abandons his artistic ambition of a life in the theater when he discovers a secret society that, in a time of social upheaval, is devoted to fostering political stability. Wilhelm Meisters induction into the Society of the Tower successfully redirects his narcissistic preoccupations into a sober and sensible commitment to community. Goethes Wilhelm Meisters Apprenticeship stands in stark contrast to his earlier novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (1779), a novel that epitomized the eighteenth-century cult of sensibility and gained Goethe immense celebrity throughout Europe. Werther, disappointed in love and unable to find meaning in life, commits suicide in a gesture which

slaughteR, supra note 1, at 111. Id. at 115. Slaughter draws from fRanco moRetti, the Way of the WoRld: the bildungsRoman in euRopean cultuRe (1987); maRc Redfield, phantom foRmations: aesthetic ideology and the bildungsRoman (1996). Georg Lukcs is also a key figure for Slaughter especially geoRg lukcs,the theoRy of the novel (Anna Bostok trans., 1971); geoRg lukcs, goethe and his age (Robert Anchor trans., 1968).



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continues to be emblematic of teenage angst but which Goethe had meant as a critique of melancholia rather than its celebration, which is how the book was widely read.10 In Wilhelm Meisters Apprenticeship, therefore, Goethe draws a much more explicit trajectory towards a useful occupation for his protagonist and sets in motion a plot for the story of personal development that became central to the evolution of the novel as a form. Imperialism and the models provided in colonial education helped the genre spread worldwide. Others before Slaughter have noted the preponderance of Bildungsroman in the corpus of the postcolonial novel from Africa in particular. Slaughters contribution lies in the way he links the rise of human rights discourse to the history of decolonization through his examination of the implications of two United Nations declarations: the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (1960) and the Declaration on the Right to Development (1986). Slaughters analysis of these documents illuminates the mutually reinforcing influence of colonial education and international human rights law in shaping a literary genre of disillusionment. The disillusionment with the promises of the civilizing mission problematizes the process of the subjects incorporation.11 The impasse arrived at by the protagonists of such novels as Nervous Conditions by Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangaremgba provides Slaughter with evidence from within, so to speak, which shores up his

critique of the limitations of the fable of incorporation disseminated through human rights. Slaughters reading of Michael Ondaatjees haunting Anils Ghost reveals how personal identity is brought into crisis in an international regime that legitimates only the nation-state as a valid political organization and as a setting for the individuals incorporation. What was in Goethes oeuvre the idealist Bildungsroman transforms into what Slaughter calls the dissensual novel of development, which displays two contradictory facets: it legitimates the individuals opposition to a repressive state, but this opposition is co-opted because its terms have been appropriated by the state as its ideology, however hypocritically. 12 The dissensual form thus can become purely formalistic or an ideology of the second degree that refers to and substantiates wholly nonexistent democratic forms.13 If there is a dangerous correlation between the human rights plot of individuation and what Slaughter calls the repressive states isolating individualist assignation of personal responsibility which fractures and incapacitates the body politic, there is yet potential for dissent in this narrative form. Because it is ironic (doublevoiced), the dissensual Bildungsroman can articulate a critique of the human rights plot as it performs the process of the individuals incorporation.14 The narrators self-voicing of this journey can be, as in the case of Dangarembgas novel set in colonial Rhodesia, a historicizing and socializing activity that unveils these contradictions.15

10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

dictionaRy of liteRaRy biogRaphy, vol. 94: geRman WRiteRs in the age of goethe 4667 (James Hardin & Christoph E. Schweitzer eds., 1990). slaughteR, supra note 1, at 215. Id. at 181, 256. Id. at 267. Id. at 269. Id.


Book Reviews


One must emphasize that Slaughter establishes the link between literature and human rights historically by demonstrating how the drafting of the UDHR was influenced by a literary insight. The expectation that the individual develop his human personality is fostered by a regime of human rights where the persons dignity and humanity are safeguarded. Slaughter takes the phrase human personality from Article 29 of the UDHR: Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. Slaughter explains how this clause got into the UDHR and highlights how a reference to Daniel Defoes Robinson Crusoe shaped the discussion of how duties are related to rights. The text of the original clause was: Everyone has duties to the community which enables him freely to develop his personality.16 Alan Watt, the Australian delegate, suggested the amendment which was ultimately adopted as the first clause of Article 29. But this was not uncontroversial. Watts amendment was perceived as too prescriptive, and the objection was raised by Fernand Dehousse of Belgium who explained, as Slaughter quotes, It might . . . be asserted that the individual could only develop his personality within the framework of society; it was, however, only
16. 17. 18. 19.

necessary to recall the famous book by Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719), to find proof to the contrary.17 Dehousse drew on the popularized notion of what Defoe was trying to portray: that Crusoe, stranded on his island, developed on his own without community. The Soviet delegate, Alexei Pavlov, disagreed with Dehousses interpretation of Defoe and argued instead that the novel proves the contrary because Crusoe relied on the books and tools he retrieved from his shipwreck to survive and hence had recourse to the results of communal living and cooperative labor.18 Slaughters historical anecdote illustrates how a literary example functions as if it had the validity of a story from real life; it intervenes in the process of writing the law to make obvious (legible) the laws intention.19 Slaughter also makes a point here about literary history. He reminds us of the (approximate) temporal coincidence between the drafting the UDHR and the writing of Ian Watts The Rise of the Novel (1956) which treated Defoes portrait of the individual as homo economicus (economic man); Watts literary history articulated for the English speaking novel a founding myth linking the genres future development to the history of capital and, of course, imperialism.20 In other words, Slaughter shows that two similar cultural


Quoted in id. at 46. Id. at 47. Id. at 48. As a matter of fact, Defoes novel was based on the real life story of Alexander Selkirk, who survived for five years stranded on an island in the Pacific and then published a popular account of his adventure. See Robinson Crusoe, in the cambRidge guide to liteRatuRe in english (Ian Ousby ed.,1992). It should also be noted that Crusoe was not alone for the entire twenty-eight years he spent on his island but was joined for the last few years by Friday, a noble savage who had escaped his people and was educated by Crusoe. Thus Defoe not only established the figure of the self-reliant individual but made him the agent of the civilizing mission. For Watts use of the term homo economicus, see his discussion in Robinson Crusoe: Individualism and the Novel, in ian Watt, the Rise of the novel 63 ff (1962). Indeed, Watt wonders whether Defoes book is a novel at all because it deals so little with personal relations. Id. at 92. However, he concludes that it is appropriate that the tradition of the novel should begin with a work that annihilated the relationships of the traditional



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myths of the individual and his incorporation are launched in tandem. By linking Robinson Crusoe to the origin of the UDHR, Slaughter also aligns the history of the novel as a genre to the history of human rights and the UDHRs antecedents in the eighteenth century declarations. The link between the two is the cultivation of the modern individual, which is mandated as an international objective in what Slaughter identifies as the United Nations ambition to modernize and develop. Development thus acquires an important double meaning in the book: it is both development of the human personality and economic development of poor nations, which is synonymous to their modernization. Slaughter argues that [m]odernization is the dominant theme of a more general discourse of development that consists of the mass of [ready-made] notions about human evolution and social progress that prefigures our narrative ways of articulating the relation of individual human beings to the social formations in which they are indentured to live out their lives and realize their destinies as social subjects.21 Slaughter is citing two texts here: Michel Foucaults The Archaeology of Knowledge which enables him to allude to the circulation of discursive formations diachronically, and Hayden Whites The Content of the Form which looks at how larger narrative structures condition our understanding of individual lives.22 This latter point is particularly important to Slaughter, who relies not only on Whites idea of emplotment (how to narrate a

series of events, a timeline, into a story with a particular moral vision that then constitutes an understanding of history),23 but also on Peter Brookss Reading for the Plot which is indebted more to a psychoanalytic approach and is less formalist than Whites book.24 Narrative, and plot in particular, provides not only the basis for a certain kind of knowledge but also shape political action, action that seeks to make real the idea(l) of the plot. The difference between the idealist and dissensual forms of the Bildungsroman possibly inscribe themselves onto different kinds of agency: the agency of the legislator (or activist) and the agency of the incorporated subject making a claim, and protesting the inadequacy of the system, most powerfully expressed in Slaughters examples from the margins, the postcolonial novels of disillusionment. How convincing is the link between the Bildungsroman and the human rights plot of developing the human personality? How much weight can the historical anecdote told by Slaughter about Article 29 carry? And how limiting is his exclusive focus on the UDHR and the Covenants to represent all of human rights law? The answers to these questions depend in large measure on how the reader reacts to some of Slaughters other claims such as those associated with his use of the term incorporation and his claim that human rights are hampered by their rhetorically tautological structure. Slaughter describes the human rights plot as the plot of inherency-in-becoming because its teleology is to bring the individual to

21. 22. 23. 24.

social order, and thus drew attention to the opportunity and the need of building up a network of personal relationships on a new and conscious pattern. Id. Id. at 107 (brackets in original). michel foucault, the aRchaeology of knoWledge and the discouRse of language (A.M. Sheridan Smith trans., 1972); hayden White, the content of the foRm: naRRative discouRse and histoRical RepResentation (1987). White, supra note 22, at 4244. peteR bRooks, Reading foR the plot: design and intention in naRRative (1984)


Book Reviews


a realization of her inherent humanity in an act of self-recognition.25 Subjectivity is deferred until this process of self-recognition is fulfilled and hence the tautological nature of what was proposed becomes manifest.26 He demonstrates this tautological structure by citing Jack Donnellys statement that human rights are literally the rights one has simply because one is a human being.27 Slaughter supports this with similar statements by other thinkers, such as John Humphreys assertion that human rights are common sense and everyone knows, or should know why human rights are important.28 Furthermore, the tautological is also present in the idealist Bildungsroman form. The endings of such novels usually show how the protagonist is able to change course from his original ambition because he must after all accept that he cannot become something other than what he already is. Development is less a matter of transformation as of a manifestation, a making legible, of the real.29 The genres evolution into what Slaughter calls the novel of demarginalization offers a more nuanced notion of character development by bringing otherwise socially marginalized subjects to the center to prove their (obvious) humanity through their story of development.30 Incorporation, which appears as Inc. in the books title, reflects Slaughters cri25. 26.

tique of human rights which he sums up in the books introduction (its preamble, as he calls it):
Human rights discourse and law have indeed achieved rhetorical, juridical, and political hegemony in international affairs, but such triumphalist narratives about the virtue of human rights extol legal normalization itself as a sign of humanitys advancement rather than as a probable symptom of its continued benightedness. Human rights thus triumph in their apparent banality, but this progress narrative also tends to disregard the fact that human rights violationslike the international law designed to prevent themhave become increasingly systematic, corporate, and institutional.31

The progress narrative that Slaughter critiques here is one that has received excellent critical attention elsewhere as, for example, in Reza Afsharis analysis of the recent historiography of human rights.32 Slaughters articulation of the problems of this triumph reductively links violations to legal normalization in a way that does not do justice to the subtlety of his argument elsewhere in the book. In the passage quoted, Inc. is reflected in the systematic, corporate, and institutional nature of violations. But incorporation, as shown by the explanation of what Slaughter calls the human rights plot, operates mostly in a different sense in the

27. 28. 29. 30. 31 32.

Id. at 247. Slaughters formulation of this idea of deferral, or delayed manifestation reads as follows the human personality that the law posits as sovereign in its enabling fiction is not precisely a tautology because it is not yet a tautologybecause the human person is not yet the human person of human rights. Id. at 249. Id. at 76; Jack donnelly univeRsal human Rights in theoRy and pRactice 9 (1989). Quoted in slaughteR, supra note 1, at 76. Id. at 3. Slaughters reading of maRJoRie oludhe macgoye, coming to biRth (2000) illustrates his point. See slaughteR, supra note 1, at 12033. slaughteR, supra note 1, at 2. See Reza Afshari, On Historiography of Human Rights: Reflections on Paul Gordon Laurens The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions Seen, 29 hum. Rts. Q. 1 (2007).



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book and indicates a process, however flawed, through which an individual learns the terms of his belonging, or not, in the nation state. More telling of Slaughters attitude toward the strengths and weaknesses of human rights is his discussion of the public sphere in Chapter 3, Normalizing Narrative Forms of Human Rights: The (Dys)Function of the Public Sphere. He ends this chapter with the following defense:
Although a rights claim is an essentially conservative expression of discontent with the social system, it remains a necessary act, inasmuch as the nation-state continues to figure as the ultimate sociopolitical expression of a universal human personality in our international legal agreements, and inasmuch as human rights continue to constitute our best projection for keeping the broken promise of a world of universal human equality and dignitythat is, inasmuch as human rights continue to represent that which we cannot not want. 33

Human rights are presented here as weak but necessary, the only instrument left of an attenuated ideology of social justice. The assertion that a human rights claim is an essentially conservative expression is puzzling but consistent with Slaughters opposition of the individual and the collective throughout his book. By championing the Bildungsroman both as a symptom of the same thinking that has produced human rights law and as a possible locus for its revision and critical examination, Slaughter usefully ties culture to rights.
33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38.

But it is also important to remember that not all novels are Bildungsroman; indeed some of Slaughters examples strain the definition by his own admission.34 Georg Lukcs is at pains to show that the meaning attained by the problematic individual (the prototype Slaughter borrows as the hero of the idealist Bildungsroman)35 does not stop at the moment of self-recognition. The hero (and here Lukcs is talking of the novel more generally) is a vehicle for the novelist to reveal something about the contingent, historical world and thus the limits of the individual. Lukcs writes that once the individual has achieved self-recognition then the ideal thus formed irradiates the individuals life as its immanent meaning; but the conflict between what is and what should be has not been abolished and cannot be abolished in the sphere wherein these events take placethe life sphere of the novel.36 The biographical form gives the novel boundaries necessary for its coherence but at the same time through irony it always signals a fundamental incompleteness or open-endedness.37 Slaughter recognizes this feature as a virtue of the novel as a form despite the fact that it makes it always seem as if it comes up short of the laws ideal.38 Slaughters book merits careful reading, but I worry that it will be received as pessimistic, rather than critical but fundamentally hopeful. James Dawes That the World May Know: Bearing Witness to Atrocity is also

slaughteR, supra note 1, at 139. Slaughter cites gayatRi chakRavoRty spivak, outside in the teaching machine 4546 (1993). See slaughteR, supra note 1, at 191, for a discussion of michael ondaatJee, anils ghost (2000). slaughteR, supra note 1, at 102. lukcs, supra note 9, at 80 (emphasis added). Id. at 81. slaughteR, supra note 1, at 315.


Book Reviews


worried about issues of genre. In the last chapter of his book which focuses on how the field is represented in literature and journalism, Dawes refers to a body of human rights fiction which deals thematically with human rights violations and atrocity. Dawes does not claim to make an exhaustive analysis of this genre, but his examples are recognizable as an emerging canon represented by works such as J.M. Coetzees Waiting for the Barbarians (1999), Ondatjees Anils Ghost (a novel also analyzed at length by Slaughter), and Edwidge Danticats The Dew Breaker (2004). Novels enable Dawes to dramatize the difficulty of finding what he calls a clear language that can disseminate these stories outwards to wide audiences and also reach the communities whose histories they represent.39 He articulates differently than Slaughter a similar concern with the tension between the individual and the collective. Noting in his discussion of Anils Ghost that many works of this genre have anticlimactic or inconclusive endings, Dawes argues that this represents an intentional troubling of a key assumption shared by the novel and human rights narrative when they center on stories of an individual who is then held to be emblematic of a larger community. There is an expectation that the story of an individual will run to completion and become representative.40 When this does not happen we are reminded, according to Dawes, that the focus on the individual as we find it not only in fiction but in other forms of human rights narratives engenders not only remembering but some significant forgetting; the community, he tells us, can be

eclipsed by the wounded individual.41 For Dawes, human rights literature with its fictionalized stories helps illuminate key aspects of the storytelling practices of human rights professionals. Literature and the work of human rights can travel together and literature can, by expressing something true, participate in . . . the work of human rights.42 Dawes examination of literary discourse is only one part of his book. The book concerns itself more broadly with the experience of witnesses to violations who are on the scene as outsiders to the particular conflict. For his book, Dawes interviewed journalists, writers, employees of the ICRC and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and human rights advocates. Some of Dawes best insights come from his interviews with Romo Dallaire, Rony Brauman (co-founder and former president of Doctors without Borders), and the Senegalese novelist Boubacar Boris Diop, who headed a delegation of francophone African writers that went to Rwanda to witness the aftermath of the genocide. The key question that Dawes asks over and over again is how do these variously positioned witnesses to the suffering of others process the emotional and ethical burden of their professional identity. Storytelling becomes the key focus of Dawes study for many reasons. These individuals are usually witnesses to the stories of others. Sometimes they witness the atrocity. Often, however, their witness is to listen to the stories of victims. They either feel professionally and morally compelled to relay what they have witnessed, or they resort to telling their own story of

39. 40. 41. 42.

James daWes, that Id. at 196. Id. at 197. Id. at 218.


WoRld may knoW: beaRing Witness


atRocity (2007)



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witness for therapeutic reasons of their own. Dawes subject matter is in sharp contrast, therefore, to books such as Eric Stovers The Witnesses which is based on interviews with individuals who testified at The Hague and ICTY. Stover also interviewed judges, prosecutors, investigators, interpreters, and psychologists to help him understand the experience of the witnesses.43 Dawes by contrast takes individuals such as investigators and interpreters as his primary subjects and considers their act of witness. By situating himself at a remove from the event of the violation (especially when he interviews case workers who interview victims after the event), Dawes runs the risk of eroding the status of the witness. But he usefully provokes a meditation on the traumatic ripple effects of violations that affect human rights professionals who are very intimately involved with the events and individuals who experienced them. Thus Dawes constitutes as his subject what we might call a meta-witnessing which draws attention to the act of observing a verbal representation or testimony of a human rights violation. Words in themselves and the distortion of truth are often, as in Dawes extended example of the Rwanda genocide, key components in the perpetration of atrocities and thus a response to the atrocity requires a re-appropriation and revaluation of language. Dawes points out that human rights storytelling is deeply conflicted over the ethics of representing atrocity, over whether to heed traumas cry for representation or to obey our instinct to protect it from representa-

tionfrom invasive staring, simplification, dissection which he says is a split at the heart of human rights advocacy.44 In a chapter called Burnout, Dawes devotes considerable attention to books critical of the human rights movement and looks at the flaws inherent in the over-bureaucratization and institutionalization of human rights.45 Elsewhere in the same chapter, he discusses the types of personality that are drawn to humanitarian work, the large component of narcissism in the enterprise, and how it can lead to cynical observations about humanitarianism from skeptics.46 Yet Dawes is not a negative but a thoughtful book that asks us to reflect on ourselves in order to remain engaged by what is important. However, Dawes does run the risk of turning humanitarian workers and the cumulative effect of their testimony to him in this book into a new limit of authenticity. And while we examine their narratives of the suffering of others with a great degree of awareness about the way they are mediated, the humanitarians own experiences (temporarily?) displace that of the victims. Boubacar Boris Diop was told by the Rwandans he interviewed not to turn their stories into novels; they were sensitive to this same issue and of the danger of their stories becoming the material for the self-definition of others and in the process erasing the subjectivity of the Rwandans.47 Dawes narrates this anecdote (which is actually well known since Diop has repeated it often) and indicates that he is aware of this danger. For the most part he is successfully vigilant about slipping into an uncritical mode,

43. 44. 45. 46. 47.

eRic stoveR, the Witnesses: WaR cRimes Id. at 9. Id. at 132ff. Id. at 12426. daWes, supra note 39, at 27.

and the


of Justice in

the hague xii (2005).


Book Reviews


although his treatment of the novels about the Rwanda genocide is puzzling. Dawes recounts his interview with Diop but says next to nothing about Diops novel and its treatment of the genocide. Moreover, he overlooks the other novels from the same Rwanda Memory Project launched in Lille, France, at Africa Fest in 1998. Three books from this group (including Diops) are now available in English translation.48 Dawes looks instead at Gil Courtemanches A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, a text that as he notes is marred by the controversies over its representation of the sexuality of a Rwandan woman. Diop in fact dismisses Courtemanches novel and tells Dawes that he is not interested in reading it.49 The problem I am raising here is anticipated by Dawes, who remarks that a persistent anxiety in the literature of Rwanda concerns who has the right to talk about Rwanda. All the same, Dawes silence on a sizeable body of literature by Africans on the genocide is regrettable especially in light of the focus on human rights fiction in the books last chapter. The books by Slaughter and Dawes illustrate the widely different methodologies open to literary scholars seeking to contribute to the scholarship of human rights. Dawes conceives human rights fiction thematically as literature with a human rights story that can be examined along side other forms of human rights narrative for the value of its philosophical reflection on narrative and language. Slaughter, on the other hand, proposes a deeper historical connection between the form of the novel and human rights law, one that argues the two are mu-

tually enabling fictions central to the formation and hegemony of the liberal nation state. Eleni Coundouriotis*
Eleni Coundouriotis is Associate Professor of English and Associate Director of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut. She is currently finishing a book entitled War Fictions: The Novel in Africa and the Remaking of Nation.

Diego Muro, Ethnicity and Violence: The Case of Radical Basque Nationalism (New York: Routledge, 2008), 240 pp. ISBN 0-415-39066-4.
Of all the problems that Spains new democracy has faced since its inception in 1977, the most obvious and persistent is the violence emanating from the Basque Country. According to the Spanish Ministry of Justice, as of 2006, the violent campaign on behalf of an independent state waged by Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) is responsible for approximately 3,400 acts of terrorism, which have claimed the lives of 838 people and injured an additional 2,367, of whom 1,295 were rendered physically incapacitated. Although ETAs killing capacity has diminished considerably in recent years, leading many to believe that the worst is probably over, the organizations talent for unnerving Spanish politicians and the general public cannot yet be dismissed. ETAs assassination of a retired Socialist leader, just days before the national elections on 9 March 2008, injected a note of fear reminiscent of the 2004 general

48. 49.

See vRoniQue tadJo shadoW of imana (2002); tieRno monmembo the oldest oRphan (Monique Fleury Nagem trans., 2004). The other novels published from this project include: koulsy lamko, la phalne des collines (2000); moniQue ilboudo, muRekatete (2000). daWes, supra note 39, at 32.