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Unit information: Memory and Political Violence in Latin America in 2020/21

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Unit name Memory and Political Violence in Latin America
Unit code HISP30096
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. James Hawkey
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The unit provides an overview of memory practices as a point of departure to explore some of the most current ideas and debates about memory and political violence in Latin America, as well as the shape they have taken in particular countries. The unit will use case studies from Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua and focus on specific practices of memory such as films, writing, photography, textiles, museums, artivism, music, archives, and the digital space. Each week explores one way of ‘doing’ memory to focus on an issue or debate in the field of memory studies and what it means for our understanding of political violence in the present. In this way, it will equip students with analytical and research skills to engage critically and creatively with the debates of ideas through inquiring into current cultural practices and their connections to the particular socio-political histories of different Latin American countries.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will, at the end of the unit, be able to:

  1. Understand the political and sociocultural processes that have shaped ideas and practices of memory and violence in Latin America.
  2. Analyse and evaluate debates and understandings of memory and political violence in Latin America through a variety of cultural practices of memory.
  3. Formulate independent judgements in response to complex questions and problems raised by the unit’s material in an appropriate style and at an advanced level of complexity.
  4. Demonstrate their skills for independent research inquiry and design, including the use of creative methods and presentation skills.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour weekly seminars

Assessment Details

1 x photo essay (2000 words plus 5-10 images and captions, 50%), testing ILOs 1-4.

1 x essay (2500 words, 50%), testing ILOs 1-4.

Reading and References

Texts may vary from year to year, depending on staff research interests, but may include the following:

Primary Sources:

  • Albertina Carri, Los rubios. Film. Argentina, 2003.
  • Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica, Tocó Cantar : Travesía contra el Olvido . Serie web. Colombia, 2016.
  • Ilustradores con Ayotzinapa, México, 2014.

Secondary Sources:

  • Jelin, Elizabeth, The Struggle for the Past: How We Construct Social Memories. Berghahn Books, 2021.
  • Villalón, Roberta, editor. Memory, Truth, and Justice in Contemporary Latin America. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.

Bilbija, Ksenija, and Leigh A. Payne, editors. Accounting for Violence: Marketing Memory in Latin America. Duke University Press, 2011.