by Roberta Villalón
The second wave of memory, truth, and justice mobilizations continues to build high across Latin America (Villalón, 2015). Since the turn of the century, various countries of the region have witnessed a push to address the unresolved human rights abuses of past military regimes and civil conflicts. Previous processes of truth, reconciliation, and justice have been reevaluated, new interpretations of past violence have emerged, once-immune victimizers have been tried, and richer collective memories have developed. The difficulties of coming to terms with not only the horror of extreme violence typical of (dirty and civil) wars but also the incompleteness of justice postwar have permeated ebullient memory mobilizations and reconciliation efforts. Simple answers to the quintessential “Who is to be blamed?” and “How to move on?” have been put to rest, and a widespread recognition of the severe complexities of past, present, and future has taken hold. Did the violence actually begin before the military coups because of histories of structural inequality? How can we make sure that all the targets of violence are recognized without exacerbating latent conflicts? Are the limitations of democratization/pacification simply unavoidable, and, if so, will the struggles for memory, truth, and justice never end? Is current victimization a continuation of past oppression? How are we to deal with the arbitrariness of abusive power relations? Are justice, reconciliation, and social equality possible, or are they utopian ideals worth pursuing despite persistent dynamics of marginalization?
The articles in this issue—the second of a three-part series on the politics of collective memory (see Villalón, 2015)—illustrate how artistic expressions and cultural means have been used to tackle these dilemmas and informed memorialization, justice seeking, and reconciliation. Artistic and cultural works and spaces have historically been associated with efforts to complement rationality by expressing what cannot be logically argued, eliciting emotions, …
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Latin American Perspectives
September 2016 vol. 43 no. 5 Abstract, pages 3-11