Mi indagación por el sentido del término “nación” en el Cusco de finales del siglo XVIII tenía como finalidad aclarar los usos de la palabra en el levantamiento de José Gabriel Condorcanqui (Túpac Amaru II) en 1780. Llegar a la comunidad de Tinta (el lugar donde empezó el alzamiento que amenazó con sacudir los cimientos del poder colonial en el Perú) y preguntar por las imágenes que tienen del evento sus habitantes actuales, me sirvió para tener presente la importancia de la dimensión comunitaria en ese movimiento. Aunque sería demasiado hablar de una “memoria colectiva” compartida por los tinteños, los monumentos a los líderes del levantamiento están en la Plaza de Armas del pueblo y le recuerdan a cada nueva generación la gesta que sus coterráneos emprendieron hace más de dos siglos. Entonces, me pregunté qué idea de comunidad futura imaginaba el cacique Condorcanqui con su accionar, qué papel jugó el término nación en esta imaginación, en qué medida esta idea desafió las estructuras de la administración colonial, cómo reaccionó esa administración ante tal posible desafío…. Con esas preguntas en mente, los principales documentos que revisé en Lima y en Cusco sobre el evento eran textos del mismo cacique Condorcanqui y de la administración colonial que reprimió el levantamiento.
En una carta enviada al Obispo del Cusco el 12 de diciembre de 1780, Túpac Amaru se queja de las tasas de tributos excesivas impuestas a “los fieles vasallos de mi nación”, las cuales mortifican también “a las demás naciones”. De tal modo, explica que el propósito de su reclamo es obtener “la libertad absoluta en todo género de pensiones a mi nación” (346). En este texto, “nación” respeta el sentido de comunidades socioculturales y étnicas que tenía en el Antiguo Régimen: las otras “naciones” gravadas con los tributos podrían aludir a criollos y a las castas; mientras que “mi nación” alude a las comunidades indígenas que eran explotadas laboralmente por los corregidores. Vale señalar que, a pesar de ser consciente de la opresión que sufren las otras “naciones”, la demanda del cacique está muy particularizada: si bien percibe una situación de explotación generalizada para la naciones que componen el cuerpo político del sistema colonial, se limita a reclamar derechos para la nación compuesta por los indios nativos.
Posted by Emmanuel Velayos – Ph.D. Candidate in Spanish and Portuguese at NYU
Esther Mares is a CLACS graduate who is now a Collections Assistant at the Tribute World Trade Center Visitor Center.
Esther graduated in January 2012 with an MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies with a concentration in museum studies. She landed a job in her field before she even completed her last semester.
Esther came to NY from Las Vegas, New Mexico, and where studied archaeology and Spanish at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. She has also previously interned at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
At CLACS, her MA thesis investigated the Museum of the City of Las Vegas and its role in producing local culture and Hispanic narratives. While at CLACS she also interned at the Rubin Museum and the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY).
Photo courtesy El Museo del Barrio - Artist: Nicolás García Uriburu
CLACS alum Christine Weible was recently awarded a one-year fellowship at El Museo del Barrio. El Museo is a Latino cultural institution dedicated to promoting Latin American and Caribbean art and culture.
Christine will be working in the education department where she will develop curriculum, organize events, and design and lead gallery tours in both Spanish and English.
At CLACS, Christine’s research focused on ESMA, formerly known as the Escuela Superior de Mecánica de la Armada. During the Argentine Dirty War, ESMA was the largest detention center implicated in human rights crimes such as torture and disappearances. This facility now functions as a museum of memory, officially the Espacio para la memoria y para la promoción y defensa de los Derechos Humanos. The “Museo para la memoria” came together as a collaboration between numerous human rights organizations, such as the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo. Christine was interested in the role of collective memory in this and other such facilities in Argentina.
Christine has a long history of work and research in the field of Latin American art. As an undergraduate student she completed a dual B.A. in Spanish and Art History. She has also had several internships in the field – notably with the Fundación Cisneros.
Posted by Von Diaz – MA Candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU
Memorial plaque at Urzante exhumation site
At the end of June, I attended a conference in Madrid that addressed many of the social, political, historical, and ethical debates emerging in response to the excavation of mass graves and the exhumation and identification of victims of political violence in Spain. Organized by anthropologist Francisco Ferrándiz (CSIC, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicos), “Bajo Tierra” brought together a wide range of experts from across disciplinary fields in order to discuss the impact that forensic investigations of Francoist political violence have had – and are continuing to have – on contemporary Spanish memory politics. For someone relatively new to the study of the Spanish historical memory movement, the three-day conference was an excellent opportunity to gain a more nuanced understanding of the social and political complexities that surround the application of forensic science to the study of the recent past.
For conference organizers, participants, and audience members, the symposium was also an opportunity to reflect on how different kinds of research protocols have evolved since the year 2000, when public support for exhumations first began to grow, thus breaking the long pact of silence put forth by an amnesty agreement made between political factions during the democratic transition. In this sense, the conference was also an opportunity for those active in the historical memory movement to take stock of the different kinds of achievements made both within and without the realm of academia and to critically discuss new challenges that currently are emerging under Spain’s new, ever-changing memory landscape. Although the exhumations occurring in Spain and the memory politics surrounding them were the main focus of the symposium, the conference also sought to situate the exhumation of “Franco’s graves” within a cross-national, comparative perspective. Due to my own interest in the similarities and differences between post-dictatorship memory politics in Latin America’s Southern Cone and that of Spain, it was interesting to see the ways in which different strategies for historically, socially, politically, and judicially addressing violent pasts in Argentina and Chile have been situated as successful models for addressing Spain’s history of political violence. Continue reading
The application of forensic science to the study of political violence in contemporary Spain has become an integral part of national and local attempts to recuperate and re-narrate an aspect of the country’s history that has often been ignored or simply forgotten: the political violence and forced disappearance of persons both during the Spanish Civil War and the ensuing Fascist dictatorship led by Francisco Franco. Focusing on the intersection of forensic science, photographic practice, and memory discourse, I began my research in Madrid by contacting anthropologists, photographers, and art historians to discuss the different ways in which visual representations of exhumations of mass graves have been deployed as a strategy for making memory politics and once-silenced experiences with violence more visible within everyday Spanish life. Many of these discussions revolved around a sense of urgency that was characterized by the need to collect the stories of an aging generation as well as an awareness of the reticence on the part of some to revisit the country’s violent past. This tension between attempts to remember and desires to forget often became the backdrop to discussions about the role of visuality in present-day negotiations regarding the political and social functions of historical memory in Spanish society.
Recently assuming a more visible, public space, exhumations of mass graves have become sites in which personal testimony, private experience, and the politics of narrating the nation’s past have begun to overlap and coexist. In fact, the acts of unearthing unmarked graves and exhuming the remains of fusilados have become the conceptual, as well as literal and physical, processes through which narratives about experiences with political violence during the Civil War and the dictatorship are produced. As material, osteological, and biological evidence of violence is uncovered and made visible, the fosa has become a key site for the production of knowledge regarding Spain’s violent history. Continue reading