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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

10 - The Dramas of Human Rights

from Part III - Generic Representations


This chapter considers the particular significance of theater as a genre that works at the intersection of imagination, spectacularity, and embodiment for the representation of human rights, as well as drama as a critical lens for understanding the “performance” of human rights in other public venues. Live drama can carry with it the aspects of temporal urgency, public activity, and personal embodiment on which human rights have also been centered, and documentary theater in particular holds significance in human rights discourse due to its relationship to archive, evidence, and the real. Examining three forms of documentary theater (the tribunal, the auto-biographical, and the site-specific), the chapter argues that this genre has become an essential mode for framing human rights both in its advocatory potential and in its posing of questions about the relationship of theater and documentary to truth and legitimacy.

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