Graphic Medicine has ended

Dana Walrath

Dana Walwarth: Facing Dehumanization through ComicsStripping individuals of their personhood – defining them as somehow less than human – shifts the rules of social interaction. In the context of genocide, dehumanization has grave consequences. Fourth of the ten stages of genocide in Stanton’s model (1996, 2013), dehumanization provides the cognitive shift that permits human experimentation, slavery, slaughter, and other abuses normally reserved only for animals. Global health writ large as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO 1946) requires preventing and ending dehumanization. Because it is a medium of fragments that actively engages the reader, comics possess the power to meet this challenge. I will present a series of short interactive comic books called “View from the High Ground” that allows readers to experience the dehumanization fundamental to genocide. It focuses on nine of the many genocides that have taken place over the past 500 years (those committed against Native Americans, African Slaves in the US, Australian Aborigines, Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Tutsi, Bosnians, and the Royhingya). Drawn into a repurposed Zoology textbook, each book contains full-length portraits of people who experienced that genocide interspersed with images of animals (apes, oxen, snakes, hyenas, etc,) and vermin (rats, cockroaches, flies, etc.) and parasites (lice, tapeworms). Each page is cut into thirds separating the heads, torsos and lower bodies of the individuals so that the reader can turn portions of the page and make combined human/beast/vermin portraits. Through actively experiencing dehumanization with each page turn, the reader embodies the experience of stripping people of their humanity – defining them as less than human – and becomes equipped to own and thus to end this practice.

My Artists Sessions

Saturday, July 9

13:00 BST