What is the role of history in the life of new democracies? In this volume, twelve reflections—the work of journalists, writers and poets, literary critics, political scientists, historians, philosophers, economists, and linguists—explore legacies of authoritarian political regimes noted for repression and injustice, questioning how collective experiences of violence shape memory and its relevance for contemporary social and political life in Latin America. The past matters deeply, the essayists agree, but the past itself is debatable and ambiguous. Avoiding its repetition introduces elusive and contested terrain; there are, indeed, many histories, many memories, and many ways they can be reflected in democratic contexts. In much of contemporary Latin America, this difficult past has not yet been fully confronted, and much remains to be done in reconciling memory and democracy throughout the region. As this is done, the lessons of the past must contribute not only to the construction of democratic institutions, but also to the engagement of democratic citizens in the collective work of governance and participation.
The elegantly crafted contributions cover means of historical memory as diverse as investigative journalism, Mayan oral histories, and Argentine fiction.
This collection of essays by journalists, writers and poets; literary critics, political scientists and historians; philosophers, economists and linguists transcends disciplinary boundaries in a felicitous way. It also offers a challenge to comparative studies, in that apart from its binding focus on Chile it includes essays on Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and Colombia. What emerges is a multidirectional view of memory politics across the continent that allows the reader to draw inferences between the different national cases discussed and to recognize fundamental differences between, say, Chile and Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.
This excellent volume makes a clear contribution to the field of Latin American Studies by bringing together analysis of the relation between memory and democracy, on the one hand, with exploration of the unsettledness and complexity of memory, on the other.
Reflections on Memory and Democracy is an extraordinary volume, at once powerful, analytical, and beautiful… The interdisciplinary nature of this volume, coupled with the extraordinary insider knowledge of the contributors, has painted a compelling picture of the difficulties of mobilizing memory in a way that strengthens democratic institutions, practices, and cultures. More centrally, the volume demonstrates the importance of human dignity—the dignity of being remembered—for a high-quality democracy.
- 274 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies
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