CHAPTER ABSTRACTS for "Human Rights and Indian Literary Communities" - second call

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Swatie
contact email: 

This is a second call for chapter manuscripts for the edited volume called “Human Rights and Indian Literary Communities”. 

 While most submissions are in, there is scope for more chapters ONLY in the areas given below.

 This collection undertakes various explorations about the role of literary (and related cultural) communities in the acknowledgement and understanding of human rights bearing subjects. Can literary texts highlight and empathise with those on the social margins as legal subjects possessing rights? Do texts also recognise and challenge the contours of human rights? Can literary communities help imagine and reimagine the outlines of those deemed human and therefore capable of being human rights bearing citizens?

The history of human rights has been traced in the West from ideas in the English Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, and the American declaration of Independence about “unalienable rights”, the French “declaration of the rights of man” up to the post WWII formation of the United Nations and beyond. Western academia has produced a large body of work around the theme of human rights as certain norms and expectations of personhood for all human beings. This body of work has been also seen in conjunction with the role of literature and its capacity to imagine the ‘other’ as a rights bearing citizen. Lynn Hunt’s argument especially, about human rights and the role of the sentimental novel, and literature in general, to create a sensibility of recognition of the rights of others, has been much in circulation to argue for literary communities playing a more responsive and thus responsible role of what we owe each other in collective living. 

However, despite some contributions to the area by Indian scholars (eg: Human Rights and Literature: Writing Rights) or works about Indian literature, the theme remans by and large unexplored in the Indian context under a singular HR prism. For instance, we know that the anti-colonial movement in India can be called a movement for the recognition of a people as citizens and therefore a human rights issue, literary communities too played a role in envisaging a yet to be formed “imagined community” of a free, Independent India (Benedict Anderson). Similarly, post-Independence, the issues of class, caste, gender, sexuality were brought forth in literature to imagine the citizenship of the cultural other in a more equitable way, as envisaged constitutionally. From Srilal Shukla’s scathing critique of the legal framework of rights in Raag Darbari, where rights are forever postponed by bureaucratese, to more recent assertions of women’s, queer and Dalit rights and citizenship (eg: poetry on women’s activism, novels like Abha Dawesar’s Babyji or memoirs like Coming Out as Dalit by Yashica Dutt), post Independence Indian literature remains ripe with addressing these human rights concerns. Further, in the age of technology and AI, the terrain of human rights is also contested from a post-human framework which is yet to be fully explored through a literary lens.

Contributions may contain:

  • A close reading of three or more texts on how these texts envision various human rights
  • An analysis of the philosophical human rights based contexts surrounding one or more literary texts
  • An analysis of the production, circulation or reception of a text/s through human rights issues or notions of selfhood
  • A discursive history of a literary community in a HR framework
  • 19th century notions of human rights in Indian literature
  • The right to education, especially education of women, envisioned in literature

300-500 word abstracts for proposed 6000-8000 word chapters adhering to one of the above sections are solicited for an edited volume by Dr Swatie (Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University), author of The New Normal: Trauma, Biopolitics and Visuality after 9/11 (Bloomsbury, 2021). Please send queries or abstracts in a .docx file by email to the editor ( up to January 15th, 2024.