8960 - Archives and the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago de Chile

In 2010 the Museum of Memory and Human Rights was inaugurated by President Michelle Bachelet in Santiago de Chile. The brand-new building boasts a three floor permanent exhibition on the 1973-1990 dictatorship, and a subterranean library and documentation centre. The Museum presents a clear narrative of the dictatorship, literally departing from the universal declaration of human rights written along the stairs that give entrance to the Museum. It shows the breaches of those human rights from the coup on 11 September 1973 onwards, the resistance against the dictatorship and finally the victory of NO in the 1988 plebiscite that led to the presidency of democrat Patricio Aylwin on 11 March 1990. In the entrance hall there is a showcase with the reports of the Chilean Truth Commissions. A sign tells us that the Museum is based on these reports and that these form the essential reference for the permanent exhibition and the patrimony of the Museum. The bases of the archive of the Museum, are the archives of the human rights organizations that were protagonists in the defense of those that resisted the dictatorship. These archives contain narratives that may very well contest the master narrative of the truth commissions and the Museum. The question of this paper is: Now that these archives are being moved to the Museum: will these subaltern narratives be heard or silenced? In my paper I will explore the relations and tensions between the archives of the human rights organizations and the new archive of the Museum of Memory both in terms of content and access. I will elaborate on these tensions related to the alternative narratives that rest in the archives of the human rights organizations (and eventually) in the archive of the Museum itself, and that may reveal the historical, social and political processes at play at the time and go beyond the narrative of human rights violations and the singular identity of the victim. These narratives then may formulate a radical critique on the Chilean democracy today.

Palabras claves: Archives, museum, social action, testimony

Autores: Klep, Katrien (Utrecht University, Netherlands / Niederlande)


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