Arpita Jagulia, research scholar in the department of English at University of Hyderabad (UoH) was invited to present the paper, “Border-Crossing Experiences of Refugees: (Re)telling the Stories of Human Rights Violation in Don Brown’s The Unwanted,” in the panel “The Visual Politics of Borders, Migration and Human Rights in Comics and Graphic Narratives” at the 2023 Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA) Conference held in Portland (USA) from October 26 – 29. Arpita Jagulia is pursuing her research under the supervision of Dr. Saradindu Bhattacharya, faculty in department of English.


Migration or border-crossing is intrinsically related to issues of displacement and human rights violations, wherein themes of rights, justice, and agency play a crucial role. Arpita’s paper examined how the Syrian civil war has resulted in a collective psychological experience of disempowerment and dehumanization among the natives of the war-torn nation-state. The natives-turned-migrants eventually dwell in spaces outside the social, political and legal realm of citizenship. The statelessness of refugees and the xenophobia they encounter in the host countries result in paranoia and fear which is articulated through the visual grammar of the text. The paper mapped out how the ‘comic’ as a mode of expression and form of textuality configures a space wherein readers can empathize with the experiences of the migrants. Furthermore, it investigated the tension between the asylum seekers and the host countries, which foregrounds the denial of rights/justice for stateless, faceless migrants and leads to a consideration of questions of agency and identity at the collective level.


Arpita received positive feedback from the chairs of the panel, especially on her interpretation of the visual grammar of the text. The presentations on spatial representation of socio-cultural periphery helped her modulate her own arguments about the experiences of Syrian migrants. She plans to revise the paper and turn into a full-length essay for publication. The Institution of Eminence (IoE) at UoH supported her travel for this presentation.