Cartooning the camp: Aesthetic interruption and the limits of political possibility

Alister Wedderburn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Over the last 30 years, post-structuralist, feminist and other IR theorists have asked questions of the ways in which discourses on sovereignty seek to foreclose political possibility. To do so, they have advanced a decentralised, contested, incomplete and relational understanding of politics that presupposes some sort of intersubjective agency, however fragmented. There is one site, however, that appears to confound this line of argument insofar as it is commonly understood to exemplify an entirely non-relational, anti-political 'desolation': the concentration camp. Drawing on feminist theory to establish the terms of an aesthetic mode of 'interruption', this article will identify a compelling challenge to this position in a comic book drawn by Horst Rosenthal, a German-Jewish detainee at Gurs in Vichy, France, who was later killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Rosenthal's piece will be read as an 'aesthetic interruption' that mounts a powerful critique of the logic underpinning his concentrationary experience, and in so doing demonstrates one way in which (to however painfully limited a degree) the political might be 'brought back in' to discussions about sovereign power.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)169-189
    JournalMillennium: Journal of International Studies
    Volume47
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2019

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