Spring 2009: Memory, Trauma, and Performance

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  • This course explores the interconnections between trauma, memory, and performance in Latin America. Starting in the 1960s, we focus on events throughout the Americas—Mexico 1968, Argentina’s ‘Dirty War,’ Chile under Pinochet, Nicaragua, and other sites in which criminal politics have disappeared citizens and traumatized populations. Does each context have its own unique structure and idiom, or can we think about individual and collective trauma through a translocal, cosmopolitan lens? Topics include: the performance of state power and state sponsored terror; the individual and collective nature of trauma; the study of embodied practices such as testimony and witnessing; the construction of archives of testimony; testimony, its use in literature, museums, and pedagogy, its dramatizations by others, its archivization; the social role of sites of memory (ESMA, Villa Grimaldi etc.); performances of protest and resistance.

    This course draws from classic and recent readings at the juncture of trauma, memory, and performance studies. To build on the paradigms suggested by the various scenarios, students will be encouraged to extend the topics explored in class to other sites—slavery, the Gulag, Hiroshima, 9/11, TRC, Guantánamo, etc