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Reading: Looking at the Perpetrator in Nina Bunjevac’s Fatherland


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Looking at the Perpetrator in Nina Bunjevac’s Fatherland


Olga Michael

University of Cyprus, CY
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Nina Bunjevac’s graphic memoir, Fatherland (2014), tells the story of her father, Peter Bunjevac, who died when she was a year old while preparing a bomb to attack the Yugoslavian Consulate in Toronto as part of his activities as a member of the Serbian terrorist group ‘Freedom for the Serbian Fatherland’. This man is depicted as a distant, elusive father, through an account that is marked by gaps and aporias, and which is based on historical and newspaper accounts, portrait photographs, and testimonies told primarily by Nina’s mother and maternal grandmother. In this article, I take Fatherland as a case study to explore the perpetrator portrayals that are enabled by the comics form. I investigate how the figure of the perpetrator becomes structured through the perspective of a daughter who did not know him, and I demonstrate that the technique of braiding, bird-related imagery, and visual as well as textual circles become instrumental in foregrounding inter-generational traumatic bonds that seem to have triggered abusive and violent behaviours. Furthermore, I argue that the narrative’s oscillation between the macro-level of the nation and the micro-level of the family, on the one hand, and between public and private histories, on the other, enriches and complicates the graphic display of this otherwise elusive, ‘monstrous’ perpetrator. In so doing, I showcase the value of graphic perpetrator narratives in facilitating more nuanced understandings of the figure of the terrorist, particularly in the post-09/11 context.

How to Cite: Michael, O., 2022. Looking at the Perpetrator in Nina Bunjevac’s Fatherland. Journal of Perpetrator Research, 4(2), p.None. DOI:
Published on 10 Sep 2022.
Peer Reviewed


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