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After CritiqueTwenty-First-Century Fiction in a Neoliberal Age$
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Mitchum Huehls

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190456221

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456221.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 March 2021

Turning to Presence

Turning to Presence

The Contingent Persons of Human Rights Literature

(p.34) 1 Turning to Presence
After Critique

Mitchum Huehls

Oxford University Press

Chapter one examines two child-soldier narratives, Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone and Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of No Nation. As the simultaneous victim and perpetrator of human rights abuse, the child soldier embodies the representational challenges facing human rights discourse: does he deserve full human rights by virtue of his humanity alone, or does the fact that he’s also a murderer suggest that those rights can only be conferred artificially through the state? Beah, whose memoir stands as a counter-example in the chapter, ignores the duplicities of child soldiering to insist on his status as a deserving subject of human rights. In Iweala’s novel, however, the protagonist willingly embodies the ambivalence of his position. Because this leaves him unable to predicate his humanity on natural human rights, he instead produces the value of his humanity ontologically, by linking his present circumstances to meaningful presences from his immediate past.

Keywords:   human rights, child soldiers, comparison, catachresis, simile

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