This volume explores how Colombian novelists, artists, performers, activists, musicians, and others seek to enact—to perform, to stage, to represent—human rights situations that are otherwise enacted discursively, that is, made public or official, in juridical and political realms in which justice often remains an illusory or promised future.
In order to probe how cultural production embodies the tensions between the abstract universality of human rights and the materiality of violations on individual human bodies and on determined groups, the volume asks the following questions:
- How does the transmission of historical traumas of Colombia’s past, through human rights narratives in various forms, inform the debates around the subjects of rights, truth and memory, remembrance and forgetting, and the construction of citizenship through solidarity and collective struggles for justice?
- What are the different roles taken by cultural products in the interstices among rights, laws, and social justice within different contexts of state violence and states of exception?
- What are alternative perspectives, sources, and (micro)histories from Colombia of the creation, evolution, and practice of human rights?
- How does the human rights discourse interface with notions of environmental justice, especially in the face of global climate change, regional (neo)extractivism, the implementation of megaprojects, and ongoing post-accord thefts and (re)appropriations of land?
Through a wide range of disciplinary lenses, the different chapters explore counter-hegemonic concepts of human rights, decolonial options struggling against oppression and market logic, and alternative discourses of human dignity and emancipation within the pluriverse.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Human rights subjects, microhistories, and assemblages in Colombian cultural production
Carlos Gardeazábal Bravo and Kevin G. Guerrieri
Part I: Human rights narratives, micronarratives, and subjectivation
1 Savage states: Literature and human rights in nineteenth-century Colombia
Luis Fernando Restrepo
2 The deaths inscribed in us: art, memory, and public space in Doris Salcedo
3 Towards emancipatory human rights narratives: Reflections on dissent, the state of siege, and embodiment in Daniel Ferreira’s Rebelión de los oficios inútiles
Carlos Gardeázabal Bravo
4 Toe, cabinet, and float: Literary subjectivations of victimhood facing the human rights discourse
Carlos Mario Mejía Suárez
Part II: land, environment, commodity: The human and the non-human
5 The voids of memory: The reemergence of the Rubber Boom genocide in Embrace of the Serpent, by Ciro Guerra
Daniel Coral Reyes
6 Culture and resistance in Montes de María, Colombia: Ceferina Banquez’s songs and memories of war
Ligia S. Aldana
7 Colombian graphic narratives of the Post-Acuerdo: Dialogic views of water and land as human rights
Felipe Gómez Gutiérrez
8 Medicinal plants: Healing the relationships between human and non-humans in post-accord times
Vanesa Giraldo Gartner and César Ernesto Abadía Barrero
Part III: Structural, political, and gender-based violence and resistance
9 Wounds and monsters: representations of gender-based violence and feminicide in the aftermath of the Colombian armed conflict
Constanza López Baquero
10 Rocking the Colombian casbah: Exposing lives of Colombian violence through music
Eunice Rojas and Carlos A. García Pinilla
11 Public secrets, private violence: A reading of Laura Restrepo’s Delirio
Part IV: Transitional justice, grassroots activism, and problematizing victimhood
12 Beyond the liberal-institutional paradigm: Grassroots human rights and transitional justice Narratives in Antígonas, tribunal de mujeres
13 Visualizing human rights: The sanctuary of victims in the House of Memory of Tumaco
14 Peace as a trap: Dangerousness, due process, and reintegration in Mi capitán Fabián Sicachá by Flor Romero de Nohra
Juan Camilo Galeano Sánchez
Carlos Gardeazábal Bravo, PhD, has taught Latin American culture and Spanish at Colby College and Rhodes College, where he is currently Visiting Assistant Professor. His research interests lie at the intersections of contemporary Latin American literature, human rights narratives, and the cultural politics of emotion, ecocriticism, and critical theory. He is the co-creator and co-editor of Colombia Syllabus / Primera línea académica, a crowdsourced digital repository on the 2021 protests in Colombia.
Kevin G. Guerrieri is Professor of Spanish at the University of San Diego and holds a PhD from the University of California, Riverside. His research explores Latin American and Colombian literature, human rights, social justice education, and scholarship of engagement. He is author of the book Palabra, poder y nación: la novela moderna en Colombia de 1896 a 1927, and was president of the Asociación de Colombianistas (2013–2017).