The Enduring Legacy of State Violence: Memory and Transitional Justice

Friday, February 6, 2015
12:00pm – 1:15pm
Rechler Conference Room 202, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Rebecca Atencio, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Tulane University

Inferno permanente: um olhar sobre a violência na classe média brasileira no século XXI
Antonio Kleber Gomes, University of New Mexico

O estado de exceção que se instaurou no Brasil em 1964 formou, de certa maneira, uma prática de violência que, mesmo após o final da ditadura em 1985 parece ter se perpetuado, chegando até os dias de hoje. A democracia da violência (ODALIA,1984) formou uma violência banalizada, vendida através da mídia comercial. O próprio cinema nacional da atualidade exporta uma violência exótica, uma que normalmente retrata as classes menos privilegiadas e os contextos suburbanos das grandes cidades do Brasil. Essa manifestação faz com que, portanto, o público em geral não percebe que este tipo de violência está fortemente presente também na classe média do Brasil. A partir desta concepção e baseando-se em concepções de pensadores como Immanuel Kant, Hannah Arendt, Idelber Avelar e Giorgio Agamben, tentamos traçar um paralelo com as obras O livro das impossiblididades (Inferno Provisório: Volume IV), de 2009, e Domingos sem Deus (Inferno Provisório: Volume V), de 2011, ambos do escritor mineiro Luiz Ruffato. Os livros retratam a classe média brasileira e como elas funcionam neste século XXI, um reflexo de como funciona essa parcela da população do Brasil. Este trabalho se configura, portanto, como uma análise desta classe média violenta, e de como ela foi formada pela ditadura militar.

A mulher no pós-ditadura: Uma análise das personagens femininas na minissérie Queridos Amigos e no filme Hoje
Marcela Lopes, University of New Mexico

Esta apresentação visa analisar as correspondências sociais, políticas e mnemônicas entre a personagem Bia da minissérie Queridos Amigos (2008) de Maria Adelaide Amaral e a personagem Vera do filme Hoje (2011) de Tata Amaral vividas pela atriz Denise Fraga. Essas personagens compartilham de certos traços característicos daqueles que viveram no pós-ditadura, como a dificuldade em retomar suas vidas após o fim do golpe, e, assim, propõem novas considerações em torno da militância feminina no período ditatorial. Esta análise segue a aproximação teórica de Ferreira (1996), que é a construção da memória social dos anos da ditadura militar através das recordações de ex-presas políticas, ou seja, de mulheres que vivenciaram o cárcere e a tortura nesse período. Esta comunicação demonstrará como Bia e Vera encaram as marcas ideológicas, políticas e sociais que afetam diretamente sua não-resolução com o passado, no sentido de superar as consequências psicológicas e sociais adquiridas na época da ditadura e o efeito desta não-resolução com o presente.

The Hunt for Justice: Examining Traces of Brutality in K: Relato de uma busca by Bernardo Kucinski
Aja Roberts, University of New Mexico

What sustains the memory of traumatic events and why should these memories even be sustained. This presentation will examine how contemporary Brazilian literature – specifically Luis Fernando Veríssimo’s novella A Mancha (2003) broaches both the erasure and the endurance of memory in post-transitional Brazil. A Mancha tells the story of Rogério – a former political dissident who was tortured during the Brazilian dictatorship (1964-85). After the democratic transition, Rogério becomes wealthy by buying old buildings, remodeling them, and later sells them for a profit. Using Idelber Avelar’s (1999) theory that post-boom Latin American fiction employs the allegory of ruins to preserve a memory that challenges neo liberal economic policy in contemporary society, I will discuss the symbolism of ruins in Veríssimo’s A Mancha. I contend that ruins represent both the sustaining of memory, and its erasure. As such, the novella is an apt allegory of the ambivalence of the memory of the dictatorship and its human rights violations in post-transitional Brazil.

Judicial Activism and Human Rights in Colombia: An Appraisal of Colombia’s Constitutional Court
Jessica Webb, Tulane University

Over fifty years of violent armed conflict between guerilla, paramilitary and military groups has led to the internal displacement of over six million Colombians and a civil society that has been terrorized and fragmented by the continued violence. In this paper, I explore the origins and current state of the implementation of the Justice and Peace law and the Victim’s Law in Colombia amidst continuing violent conflict. I evaluate the ways in which civil society has responded to the measures as well as the ways in which efforts to reintegrate paramilitary groups and internally displaced persons may help foster cohesiveness in an historically fragmented civil society. I then analyze these findings in the context of the substantive quality of democracy in Colombia, particularly in regards to human development and human rights and also in the context of critical procedural measures of democracy, particularly the judicial independence of Colombia’s Constitutional Court. What has emerged in Colombia is a mixed picture: robust democratic institutions marred by continuing violent conflict alongside a transitional justice program that may be premature. However, I examine several marginal, though significant, sources of increased participation of civil society. These include increased civil participation in peace talks, the establishment of victims’ engagement as a crucial aspect of the peace process, and the importance of social movements in support of current peace talks. The engagement of civil society and marginalized victims of violent conflict in legislation and peace negotiations with the FARC and ELN represent an important shift in Colombian policy towards transitional justice. Moving away from the elite model of negotiation, Colombia may be in a position to incorporate and even help consolidate a more cohesive civil society that has long been terrorized by armed conflict.

The Land and Its People: Rights, Responsibilities, and Conflicts

Saturday, February 7, 2015
10:00am – 11:15am
Jones Hall 100A Greenleaf Conference Room
Moderated by: Dr. Kris Lane, Department of History, Tulane University

Ancestral Land or Corporate Land: Conflicts over Identity and Territory in La Guajira, Colombia
Emma Banks, Vanderbilt University

In La Guajira, Colombia, indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and campesino people struggle to defend their land threatened by the Cerrejón coalmine. These communities face a common problem, but must advance their claims through three different legal regimes. The 1991 constitution recognizes ethnic territories, and provides a framework for indigenous and Afro-Colombians, but not for campesinos, to protect their ancestral territories. Furthermore, the state that guarantees these rights also supports a national economic development plan based on mining, two seemingly contradictory responsibilities. Drawing on fieldwork with communities surrounding Cerrejón and analysis of key legislation, this paper explores how both the state and corporate actors manipulate multicultural legal norms to disenfranchise communities and control territory. It also illustrates how communities propose an alternative to narrow state definitions of ethnicity. Although framed as an attempt at recognizing ethnic rights, this paper views the state’s recognition of ethnic communities as a vehicle for regulating land in La Guajira in favor of Cerrejón. Wayuu indigenous communities have successfully claimed their ancestral territories, but as a result have come under greater state control. Legislation for Afro-Colombian and campesino communities falls short in La Guajira, denying their rights to territory and self-identity. In contrast to state legislation, ethnic claim-making “from below” is an attempt to assign land a cultural value and protect it from economic exploitation. The complex struggle over both territory and identity in La Guajira reveals how powerful actors and disenfranchised minorities mobilize multicultural values for disparate goals.

Fenced in Place: Discourses and Practices around Female Workers in China’s Hydropower Projects in Ecuador
Ruijie Peng, University of Texas at Austin

This study explores re/production of social and spatial relations in the biggest ongoing Chinese hydroelectric project in the Amazon watershed in Ecuador. With China’s near dominant role in development investment in Ecuador, the paper relies both on structural analysis of Chinese investment and original and ethnographic accounts and reflections from fieldwork in order to elucidate processes of integration or segmentation Chinese projects entail in the project. Due to different labor regulations, cultural norms and natural environment, Chinese-led development project experience a set of spatial segregation and labor segmentation based on national, ethnicity and gender lines. This produces a new development and management logic that both resembles traditional capitalist insertion in local economy yet distinguishes itself with different types of labor and environmental implications. However, instead of reproducing an imperial model of resource exploitation, China’s engagement with Ecuador and Latin America in general in development has created a new realm of contested social relations and interactions. For example, up to 20% of the workers and other staff have been brought from mainland China to work with Ecuadorians under a labor regime that creates more disadvantages for Chinese labor force than its Ecuadorian counterpart. Does Chinese investment and development in Ecuador represent a different paradigm than global capitalism’s engagement in production and profit? What spaces and social relations produce and are produced by South-South cooperation in development? Reflections from this work urge state and non-state actors to rethink ways in which Chinese state-led investments, Latin American states and grassroots advocacy groups can achieve more equitable and sustainable resource development.

This Isn’t Child’s Play: Delineating Mobility and Property in the Eastern Andes, 1630-1651
Nathan Weaver Olsen, University of Minnesota

In February of 1650, a property dispute between two brothers-in-law, Lorenzo de Chavez Orellana and Juan Sanchez de Aguilera, escalated into a fistfight as the local lieutenant general attempted to give Sanchez formal possession of what Chavez claimed to be his land, in full view of the Chavez family home. Of course on one level, the fistfight, which the Lieutenant General did not mention in his official report, was simply a physical manifestation of rising tensions between the two men. But on another level, this fight in a sparsely populated valley in the eastern Andes was a battle between proxies representing different notions about the origin and meaning of property rights, local citizenship (vecindad) and personal reputation. While Sanchez temporarily won possession of Chavez’s land, he would ultimately lose out in his effort to separate Chavez from his property, and did not prevent the sale of Chavez’s land to the regionally powerful don Pedro de Cuellar Mimbreño. The loss signified a change taking place in the valley in which years of military service in defense of the frontier no longer trumped literacy, documentary evidence, and the knowledge of Spanish civil legal codes. In this talk I will discuss how changing ideas about personal property in the seventeenth-century Andes help us to better understand how frontier spaces became bordered places, and the social implications of such changes for frontier communities.