Comics more and more able to address complex questions around perpetration and complicity

  • 14:35
  • Publication

This special issue of the ’Journal of Perpetrator Research’ focusses on the way perpetrators are portrayed in comics and graphic novels and how this is changing. Comics are more and more able to address complex questions around perpetration and complicity, and they utilize a range of noteworthy strategies in dealing with perpetrator figures and the problem of their representation. The issue includes contributions by Kees Ribbens and research associate of the Centre for Historical Culture dr. Laurike in ’t Veld, who is the guest editor of the issue.

The issue consists of five research articles and one roundtable conversation between three comics scholars. Two of the articles and the roundtable conversation explore, in detail, the figure of the Nazi perpetrator and the topic of Nazi complicity across a range of comics that deal with World War II and the Holocaust. The other three articles extend the scope, focusing on depictions of perpetrator figures across other geographical and historical contexts.

Engaging with victims as well as perpetrators through WWII and Holocaust comics
Dr. Kees Ribbens participated place in a round table to discuss various aspects of World War II and Holocaust comics. They discussed questions such as ’What is the potential of comics to represent Holocaust perpetrators?’ ’How do comics on national histories engage with perpetrator characters, and to what extent do we see a mitigation of the violent events and its participants?’, and ’How can comics that deal with perpetration in the context of war and genocide be used in an educational setting?’

Kees Ribbens: "The medium of comics is in principle capable of representing very different ways of looking at various historical experiences. The educational value of comics that focus on the context of war and genocide is therefore based on the one hand, on visualizing historical experiences which can facilitate the understanding of the portrayed events. On the other hand, zooming in on specific representations in comics in a comparative way offers the possibility of strengthening the awareness of the evolving memory culture of mass violence."

Journal of Perpetrator Research
TheáJournal of Perpetrator Researchá(JPR) is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed, open access journal committed to promoting the scholarly study of perpetrators and perpetration of political and mass violence, terrorism, and genocide. Itsáaim is to foster dialogue, across disciplines, on key issues currently discussed in perpetrator studies, as well as to engage critically with concepts such as "perpetrator" and "perpetration" and to explore the conditions which enable acts of collective (and) political violence.

Kees Ribbens

  • Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication