This monograph explores the relationship between human rights and literature through a reading of Ruth Firmeza’s novel Gera [War], which depicts the early years of the world’s longest non-international armed conflict: the communist insurgency in the Philippines. The monograph reads Gera as a literary representation of the state of exception and its corollary, righting—the people’s resistance under such juridical order. Through its discontinuous and episodic narrative consisting of short memories of the martial law years in the Philippines, the novel recalls the chaotic world of the state of exception. This is a world where law and time are suspended, rights dissolve, and force reigns supreme. In this juridical vacuum, the people resist through righting, an “exercise of constituent power” which subsumes both the exercise of non-juridical “democratic rights” and “sovereign vengeance.” The article concludes that, through the theme of memory, the novel—a form of writing—reconstructs not only the state of exception but also the resistance to its violence in the form of righting, which constitutes a new world beyond the imagination of the current statist and individualist international human rights regime.


constitutional law, Filipino novel, Human rights and literature in Southeast Asia, martial law, state of exception, righting

Please login first to access subscription form of article

Read Full text in PDF

Browse By

Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)