Humanitarian Fictions

Humanitarian Fictions
This one-day workshop will examine the revived idea of humanitarianism in postcolonial, comparative, and world literary studies. They raise specific questions about how the novel in particular embraces the discourse of human rights to address global modernity’s emergences and discontents. In the process, we will reflect on how literature represents, intervenes in, or helps create an affective script for vulnerable lives and habitations. We will question the relationship between the world novel, humanitarianism, and the ‘human,’ paying attention to traditional,  experimental, and aberrational forms of narrative to re-examine, in the twenty-first century, the traditional objectives of the English-language novel: social circulation and mobility, distributive justice, vernacular cosmopolitanisms, and equivocal forms of national belonging.

The workshops are an essential research activity associated with Professor Ankhi Mukherjee’s AHRC- funded book project, “The Psychic Life of the Poor: A City Unseen in Mumbai, London and New York.” Details of this project can be found here:


Call for Papers

Possible topics include:
Humanities, human rights, humanitarianism
Human rights and the novel
Human rights (or the limits of rights discourse) vs. the novel
Poverty, precarity, underdevelopment
Disability, gender identity, and race in relation to human rights
Migrancy and homelessness
Global war, terrorism, violence
Environmental crises and the nonhuman
New media and multimedia narration, involving graphic novels, blogs,
journalism, documentary, photography


To apply, please send 300-word abstracts (for 15-minute papers) by February 20 to Dr David Barnes, the research assistant on this project (

To be considered for a travel bursary, please attach a brief justification with your request (inadequate funding at your home institution, for instance).

Contact name: Ankhi Mukherjee
Audience: Open to all