Personal Narratives of Violence in Colombia – #3

Rojas - Research in Colombia - CLACS at NYUMy research period in Colombia is soon coming to an end, and I still want to do so many things here. I have finished searching the catalog at the library, and I found several texts that might be helpful for my project. That part of my work has gone as planned and has been relatively uneventful. My work with organizations has proved more exciting, but also more difficult and some times frustrating. In my last entry I commented about two CNRR projects with testimonies from victims of the conflict that I found out about: One was a collection of letters addressed by the victims to their missing loved ones. I have had access to some of them and I think they are very interesting for the kind of analysis that I want to do. It has been hard to read those texts, because they are so full of pain and unresolved grief. There is a mother who tells her murdered son that she keeps the bullets that took his life. There is a woman that calls her love, who has being missing for several years, and tells him that she still dreams with him every night but he never speaks to her, and it is probably a sign of his death.

In those letters two figures of the other become one and the same: the missing other, the lost loved one, and the other to whom the narrative is addressed, the witness through whom the narrator tries to reconstitute his or her subjectivity. The second CNRR project is an archive called “Historias de vida”, “Life stories”. It gathers around 1600 testimonies from victims of the war. I have been told that some of them are still living in the region and their lives are under threat. That is why it has been so difficult to get clearance to work with those texts. The CNRR in Barranquilla told me that I would be granted access to them if I received authorization from the head of the commission in Bogotá. Supposedly, I have already been authorized but I’m still waiting for an authorization in writing, necessary to actually access the archive. Dealing with bureaucracy has been the most frustrating part of my work, but I’m very excited every time I attain a breakthrough. I hope to be able to arrange a trip to the archive on time, because I’m sure that I could find important texts for my project.

Carlos Rojas is a PhD Candidate in Spanish and Portuguese at NYU

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