16-17 June 2014 / Senate House / London
This conference gathers together academics and writers living and working on memory issues in Latin America, the United States and Europe. We aim to discuss the way in which literature has addressed the complicated neither-dead-nor-alive figure of the disappeared from the 1970s and 1980s to the present. The term disappeared was popularized in Latin America to account for the crimes perpetrated by the dictatorships of the last century, whereby citizens were detained, held and often murdered without trace. Not only ‘standardized’ and ‘transnationalized’ by Human Rights laws, the term was also translated worldwide to describe similar or analogous cases of uncertain death at the hands of a terror State. The intention of this event is to identify and explore new poetics in the representation of the disappeared. Allegorical narratives, testimonies and memoirs have been predominant forms of addressing this figure in the aftermath of collective traumas. More recently, however, we are witnessing adventurous and experimental writings of the past and of the self. New generations in particular are exploring original ways of narrating this figure in accounts presented as science fictions and hard-boiled memories, fantasy tales and horror stories, autofictions and online diaries.
Some questions that drive this conference are: what are the common formal strategies, motives, and procedures in the literary representation of the disappeared by the postdictatorship/postconflict second generations? What makes this literature different, in its form and concerns, from both the literature of the so-called ‘1.5 generation’ and from the emerging literary production of the third generation? Are there essential differences between the works by children of the disappeared and works by authors who have no disappeared relatives? Is literature always a progressive discourse when it comes to narrating the collective traumas of the past? Or can it also contribute to constructing social stereotypes such as that of the ‘innocent victim’ or the ‘hero’ and stigmas such as that of the ‘traitor’?
Although the conference is centred on literary approaches to the figure of the disappeared, the interdisciplinary nature of many of these contemporary works means that we can no longer stick to formerly rigid genre borders. We thus welcome papers that cross disciplines (literature, theatre, cinema, photography, performance) and draw on non-conventional formats (including comics, social networks and blogs).
We invite colleagues to send an abstract (max. 250 words) for a 20-minute paper, and a brief biographical note by 10 January 2014 to:
- Jordana Blejmar (firstname.lastname@example.org),
- Mariana Eva Perez (email@example.com),
- and/or Silvana Mandolessi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Papers can be given in English or Spanish.