Forskergruppe for radikal filosofi og litteratur

Forms of Violence

Violence and Aesthetics in Latin America and the Caribbean

Workshop: Exploring regions that for centuries have been associated with violence of different kinds. The aim is to interrogate the cultural and aesthetic preconditions for the contemporary "paradigm of violence".

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.


Monday 29 May

9.15–10.45  Bruno Bosteels: “Critique of Violence and Antimilitant Militantism.”
11.00–12.00         Adrián Hernández: «An aesthetics of fixity, interiority and silence: violence in the films of Felipe Guerrero»
12.00–13.00         Lunch
13.00–14.00Tania Espinoza: "Sex and Violence in Roberto Arlt"
14.00–15.00Gisle Selnes: "Violence and the Sacred in Piglia's Plata quemada"
15.15–16.15Hans Jacob Ohldieck: «The Secret of Evil: Aesthetics and violence in Bolaño’s Nocturno de Chile and Estrella distante»
16.15–17.15       Kari Jegerstedt: «Thinking the Event in the Postcolony»

Tuesday 30 May

9.15–10.45         Jaime Ginzburg: "Culture and violence in Brazil: History and Perspectives"
11.00–12.00         Jobst Welge: «A Pact with the Devil: Violence, Partriarchy, and Narrative Form in the Work of João Guimarães Rosa»
13.00–14.00Johannes Servan: "Wither Populism? the politics of representation in Brazil"
14.15–15.15Hans Geir Aasmundsen: «Catholicism, Pentceostalism and violence in Latin America»
15.15–16.15Torgeir Skorgen: "Borders of Violence: Racialized Rage in Kleist and Fanon."