Comics as Feminist Intervention: The reading and making of 'Lissa: a graphic novel about medical promise, friendship, and revolution

Lecture | January 29 | 5-6:30 p.m. | 204 Wheeler Hall

 Sherine Hamdy, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine

 Department of Gender and Women's Studies

'Lissa' debuted as the first book in a new series of ethnoGRAPHICs, combining anthropological insight with comics form. 'Lissa' tells the story of Anna, the daughter of an American oil company executive living in Cairo, who has a family history of breast cancer. She forms an unlikely friendship with Layla, the daughter of the bawab (porter) of Anna’s apartment building, who grows to become a resolute physician struggling for better public health justice and rights in Egypt. Following the women’s journey into adulthood as they grapple with difficult medical decisions, Lissa explores the variety of people’s experiences of illness and mortality against the backdrop of political, economic, and environmental crises. Through a story of friendship, loss, and medical promise, it illuminates multiple forces that make bodies both vulnerable and resistant to political corruption, gender norms, state violence, toxicity, disease, and the commodification of both bodies and of health care. Hamdy, Lissa's co-author and ethnoGRAPHIC series editor, will talk about the juxtaposition of text and image in comics that allows for more complicated representations of lives through the manipulation of time and space. She will also talk about the methods, collaboration, and themes of the book as a feminist intervention into scholarship and public engagement.

Sherine Hamdy began as Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Irvine in the Fall 2017. Before that, she was at Brown University, where she worked and taught for eleven years. Her first book "Our Bodies Belong to God: Organ Transplants, Islam, and the Struggle for Human Dignity in Egypt" (University of California, 2012) is taught widely in courses in medical anthropology, Middle East studies, and cross-cultural bioethics. Her new research is a collaborative project with Professor Soha Bayoumi (Harvard) that critically engages with physicians' roles in the recent political upheavals in the Arab world. She also works in visual media, particularly with comics as a new medium for anthropology and is the co-author (with Coleman Nye) of "Lissa: a story of friendship, medical promise, and revolution", which is the debut anthropological graphic novel of the University of Toronto Press' ethnoGRAPHIC series (Fall 2017).