Forskergruppe for radikal filosofi og litteratur

Violence and Aesthetics in Latin America and the Caribbean

Call for papers: Please submit an abstract by 10 April 2017.

Irina Silviu Szekely

Art work by Irina Silviu Szekely
By artists Irina & Silviu Székely

“Violence and Aesthetics in Latin America and the Caribbean” is part of a series of events organized by the research group “Radical Philosophy and Literature” (RFL), University of Bergen, over the last two years under the heading “Forms of Violence”. Even though violence is often experienced as an irruption of blind forces of “nature” on the political scene, the way in which it actually functions at a given historical juncture is conditioned by volatile undercurrents of ideas, discourses and practices, and must be analyzed accordingly. Arguably, there is no uncontroversial essence or idea of violence exempt from ideological distortions, but only forms of violence, without any neutral exception. RFL’s basic aim is to interrogate the cultural and aesthetic preconditions for the contemporary “paradigm of violence”.

Turning our attention to Latin American and the Caribbean, we wish to explore regions that for centuries have been associated with violence of different kinds: the aftereffects of the brutal conquest, including the institutions of slavery, “misiones” and “encomiendas”, wars of independence, civil wars, revolutions, guerrilla warfare, brutal dictatorships, death squads, etc. Today, Latin America ranks highest in the world on domestic as well as drug- and gang-related violence, accounting for nearly one in three global homicides. On another level, the topic of violence has been important in literary and aesthetic attempts to explore Latin America, both within a contemporary and a historical perspective. Many classical Latin American works are fraught with disturbing episodes of violence, not only portraying  “fantasmatic” scenes of the other’s inhuman brutality, but also representing preventive counter-violence in an often disturbingly apologetic way (Esteban Echevarría’s “La Cautiva”, José Hernández’ Martin Fierro and Juan Rulfo’s narratives of desolation and despair are three well known examples). More recent literature and aesthetic expressions have explored violent scenes from the region’s past in an attempt to come to terms with the current political and cultural situation (as in the cases of Roberto Bolaño, Horacio Castellanos Moya and Diamela Eltit). We believe that the ways in which violence is treated in aesthetic forms, such as literature, film, art, and games, may provide insights into different aspects of the cultural significance of violence that cannot be accessed directly, i.e. through mere observation of the social and political scene.

Call for papers

Against this background, we invite scholars to present papers on both emancipatory and repressive encounters between aesthetics and violence. The topics may include, but are not limited to: aesthetic and “performative” forms of violence, violence and memory, violence and (national) history, violence and sexual difference, violence and (state) repression, the writing of violence, revolutionary violence, “systemic” versus subjective violence, violence and media, violence and technology, violence and/in popular culture, transcultural exchanges of violent resistance and/or repression.

Please submit an abstract of max. 250 words (including title) to Gisle.Selnes@uib.no or Hans.Ohldieck@uib.no by 10 April 2017.