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4255 - Memory as Purgatory or the End of Memory? A hemispheric reading of two traveling trauma narratives

Two recent works of fiction--one literary, the other cinematic--displace the trauma of Argentina's last dictatorship beyond the frontiers of the nation state. Tomás Eloy Martínez sets his final novel, Purgatorio (2008), in New Jersey, mapping the trauma of exile and the disappeared onto the North American landscape. His work raises interesting questions about citizenship and belonging in a post-national era, and suggests allegiance with the disappeared may only be possible through self-erasure and ultimately another offshore vanishing. The oscar-winning film, El secreto de sus ojos (2009) moves North in a different way, making a splash in Hollywood through its masterful deployment of structures of feeling learned there and translated into a stunning piece of Latin American historical fiction. Both works explore the limits of justice initiatives in Argentina and the effects of impunity on those who lost their loved ones. When analyzed through the lens of class and gender--as these are magnified through geographic displacement--both works pose interesting questions about citizenship and belonging in a post-national era. In this paper, I am interested in exploring how gender and class are articulated in these narratives of reconciliation and affect the limits of their imaginings; and how a hemispheric epistemic lens can help illuminate what is at stake in these traveling trauma narratives.          

Keywords: Memory, Argentina, State Terrorism, post-national, trauma narratives

Author: Tandeciarz, Silvia (College of William and Mary, Ud States of Am / USA)

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