Human Rights and the Medical Care Narrative

Neeraja Sundaram

Volume 11, Number 1, 2019 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v11n1.10


This paper aims to find convergences in the field of Human Rights and Literature and the literary study of illness narratives. Both these fields of study focus on the emergence of a new kind of subject via the telling of stories that organize experiences of traumatic suffering. The central focus in Human Rights and Literary studies continues to be on the narration of atrocities ranging from genocide, torture and imprisonment to the condition of people inhabiting conflict zones. Literary studies of the medical memoir, a sub-genre of the autobiography, is similarly interested in the discursive processes and strategies through which individuals come to terms with experiencing and witnessing physical decline, death and impairment because of illness. I hope to show in this paper that narratives of illness can be productively situated within a Human Rights framework and will thus allow us to see these narratives as performing a crucial role in the social imaginary of rights and ethics in the context of medical care.

Keywords: medical memoir, Human Rights, narratives of illness, medical care