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Remembering in ruins: Touching, seeing and feeling the past in Nostalgia de la luz/Nostalgia for the Light ([2010] 2011)

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In the wake of the atrocities of the twentieth century in countries across Latin America, the question of how to reconcile with past trauma and move towards a more peaceful future has often been fraught and divisive, with little consensus as to how and what to remember or whether to even remember at all. In Chile, the 1990 transition from dictatorship to democracy is several decades in the past, yet debates about memory and justice, and the quest to find the bodies of those disappeared by the State during the dictatorship, continue unresolved. This article examines the documentary film Nostalgia for the Light ([2010] 2011), made by Chilean film-maker Patricio Guzmán and asks: How is memory documented, preserved, constructed and transmitted through documentary film? Can and how does the very materiality of memory become a historiographical strategy? What is the relationship between materiality and memory? Ultimately, the article argues that the film performs an affective, polyvocal, temporally layered memory mapping that both works to explore and elucidate the ongoing influence of the past in the present, and to intervene in the contemporary memory landscape.
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Keywords: Chile; Patricio Guzmán; documentary film; materiality; memory; place and space; post-dictatorship

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Arizona

Publication date: September 1, 2016

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