Stranger Danger: The Imperialist Tendencies of Peacemakers
Keywords:physical borders, imperialism, peace
Sara Nović’s Girl at War, a realist novel concerned with Ana Jurić’s journey through the Yugoslavian civil war, and Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West, a magical realist novel detailing the lives of Nadia and Saeed during a civil war, are two different takes on one’s life within a warzone. While Nović explores identities and borders within the history of the former Yugoslavia, Hamid brings modern issues, including violence, surveillance, and borders, into a hypothetical world. Nović and Hamid highlight hypocrisies within peace organizations, as well as a lack of accountability for abuses committed against citizens living within warzones. Rather than alleviating devastation within conflicting areas, peace organizations appear to add to the violence. With an established exploration into the globalization present in Hamid’s Exit West and nationalism in Nović’s Girl at War, we can expand and investigate the portrayal of third-party peace organizations, such as the United Nations, independent agents, and others. While observing these organizations’ tactics, often concerning the guarding of borders and their supposedly protective measures within countries, one can examine them as bodies that self-govern, gatekeep safety, and bypass borders, all of which are distinguishing characteristics of imperialist tendencies vis-à-vis the control and authority they have exerted within foreign states.