Opening up the archive : memory, identity and historical fiction in Uruguay (1988-2011)
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This thesis examines the representation of key events from the nineteenth century in five Uruguayan historical novels published in the aftermath of the country’s recent dictatorship (1973-85). It answers the following research questions: how does historical fiction utilise the past in order to address concerns of national identity and cultural memory in the present? And how does it reassess the country’s foundational myths by portraying both national heroes and historically marginalised figures? Using the methodological and theoretical tools of memory and identity studies, it analyses how the selected authors engage with archival sources, school textbooks and other received historical sources, as well as forms of material culture such as monuments, to enhance their interpretations of the past. In doing so, this study also aims to trace the development of the historical novel genre in this key period of post-dictatorship Uruguay. The selected novels, published over the course of twenty-four years (1988-2011), fictionalise both well-known and relatively unnoticed incidents from the country’s past. They include Tomás de Mattos’s ¡Bernabé, Bernabé! (1988), based on the massacre of the indigenous Charrúas (1831) and its aftermath; Amir Hamed’s Artigas Blues Band (1994), which subverts the myths surrounding the national hero José Artigas (1764-1850); Susana Cabrera’s Las esclavas del Rincón (2001), which unearths the historical murder of an elite Montevidean woman by her slaves in 1821; Mario Delgado Aparaín’s No robarás las botas de los muertos (2002), on the Siege of Paysandú in 1864-65; and lastly, Amores cimarrones. Las mujeres de Artigas (2011) by Marcia Collazo Ibáñez, which portrays the lives of six women related to Artigas. The thesis concludes that these works reflect upon issues of identity and memory to propose more egalitarian and pluralistic versions of them for Uruguay’s post-dictatorship present.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-08-01
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 1st August 2024
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