Using comics to understand post-war transitions
The aim of the research was to understand the role of the borderland regions in post war transitions. The researchers investigated peace building in Sri Lanka and Nepal and the role of brokers in shaping relations between centre and periphery.
They chose to present the findings of their research as an illustrated essay, working with PositiveNegatives and the artist Lindsay Pollock.
The project is focused on improving understanding of, and policy responses, to post-war transitions in Nepal and Sri Lanka by examining how key local actors from peripheral regions – or 'borderland brokers' who include local businessmen, administrators, civil society leaders or politicians – help to shape changing relations between centre and peripheral regions.
As well as providing a novel approach for generating compelling accounts of brokers' lives and the wider post-war transitions that they shape, the literary comics also present unique opportunities to engage policy audiences and the general public. The project therefore aims to shape unfolding national and international policy debates relating to post-war transitions in Nepal and Sri Lanka on themes such as transitional justice, devolution, and post-war development.
Oliver explained: "We felt that this comic-style format allowed us to get across the human aspect of these stories, how these issues were experienced of the people involved.
"We have also found that people are more likely to read it. We have distributed these as booklets and people are quick to pick them up – much more so than with a standard academic article. In that sense they are very effective at engaging people."