Art from a Fractured Past

Memory and Truth-Telling in Post-Shining Path Peru

Art from a Fractured Past

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 51 photos, 2 maps Published: February 2014

Art and Visual Culture > Art History, Cultural Studies, Latin American Studies > Andes

Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission not only documented the political violence of the 1980s and 1990s but also gave Peruvians a unique opportunity to examine the causes and nature of that violence. In Art from a Fractured Past, scholars and artists expand on the commission's work, arguing for broadening the definition of the testimonial to include various forms of artistic production as documentary evidence. Their innovative focus on representation offers new and compelling perspectives on how Peruvians experienced those years and how they have attempted to come to terms with the memories and legacies of violence. Their findings about Peru offer insight into questions of art, memory, and truth that resonate throughout Latin America in the wake of "dirty wars" of the last half century. Exploring diverse works of art, including memorials, drawings, theater, film, songs, painted wooden retablos (three-dimensional boxes), and fiction, including an acclaimed graphic novel, the contributors show that art, not constrained by literal truth, can generate new opportunities for empathetic understanding and solidarity.

Contributors. Ricardo Caro Cárdenas, Jesús Cossio, Ponciano del Pino, Cynthia M. Garza, Edilberto Jímenez Quispe, Cynthia E. Milton, Jonathan Ritter, Luis Rossell, Steve J. Stern, María Eugenia Ulfe, Víctor Vich, Alfredo Villar


"Brings to light the wide-ranging possibilities of artistic language and the images to which people who lived through political violence in Peru have turned." — Fiona Wilson, Journal of Latin American Studies

“Among other fields, this book represents a timely and important contribution to scholarship on the relationship between memory and art in post conflict societies, Latin American popular cultures and, of course, recent Peruvian history and culture.” — Patricia Oliart, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

“Milton’s volume succeeds in providing a smart and timely analysis of the rich array of artistic expressions that participate in the making of Peru’s post-conflict landscape.” — Joseph P. Feldman, Americas

"Art from a Fractured Past is a valuable compilation of works connected by the theme of the production of art in postwar Peru. It holds the reader’s attention by presenting art in its different forms of expression while showing how memory and truth-telling work in different ways, spaces, and periods." — Nathalie Koc Menard, Hispanic American Historical Review

"This book clearly demonstrates the productivity of engaging with this expanded notion of the archive for the Peruvian case, showing how an attentive engagement with the practices of artists-survivors, who emerge from or work within the very communities that suffered through the conflict, can bring to light a more nuanced understanding of the racialized, gendered and generational impacts of political violence." — Florencia Marchetti, Topia

"Cynthia Milton has gathered leading anthropologists, artists, literary theorists, musicologists, and historians, whose contributions compose a fascinating and coherent collection." — Katherine Hite, Latin American Research Review

"Milton’s volume is an important contribution to the field of memory studies, applying frameworks well-developed in literature on dirty wars in the Southern Cone.  . . . It opens up new lines of inquiry to analyze the limitations of and possibilities for reconciliation in a nation still marked by stark regional, ethnoracial, and socio-economic disparities." — Dan S. Cozart, The Latin Americanist

"Cynthia E. Milton's stunning, inter-disciplinary collection illuminates how art intervenes in the memory of politics and the politics of memory in post-civil conflict Peru." — Diana Taylor, author of The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas

"This is a fascinating collection of essays about individual and collective memories in the aftermath of the violence that plagued Peru from 1980 until the mid-1990s. One of the richest collections available on the workings of memory in post-traumatic societies, it illuminates the complex and changing ways in which people recall and represent their experiences with violence, war, human rights violations, silencing, and exclusion." — Carlos Aguirre, author of The Criminals of Lima and Their Worlds: The Prison Experience, 1850–1935

"Are there limits to representation? Is it possible to convey experiences that were unbearable, unspeakable, and inhuman? This collection's presentation and discussion of grounded, micro-level studies of Peruvian artistic representations show that in spite of all, people can and do express their feelings about violence and horror." — Elizabeth Jelin, author of State Repression and the Labors of Memory


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Cynthia E. Milton is Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor of Latin American History at the Université de Montréal. She is the author of The Many Meanings of Poverty: Colonialism, Social Compacts, and Assistance in Eighteenth-Century Ecuador and a coeditor of Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places and The Art of Truth-Telling about Authoritarian Rule.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction. Art from Peru's Fractured Past / Cynthia E. Milton

Part One. Visual Representations of Recent Pasts

1. Images of Truth: Rescuing Memories of Peru's Internal War through Testimonial Art / Cynthia E. Milton

2. Chungui: Ethnographic Drawings of Violence and Traces of Memory / Edilberto Jiménez Quispe

3. Narrating Stories, Representing Memories: Retablos and Violence in Peru / María Eugenia Ulfe

Part Two. Telling Stories of Political Violence

4. Violence, Guilt, and Repetition: Alonso Cueto's Novel La Hora Azul / Víctor Vich

5. Rupay: (Hi)stories of Political Violence in Peru, 1980–1984 / Luis Rossell, Alfredo Villar, and Jesús Cossio

6. Ayacuchano Cinema and the Filming of Violence: Interview with Palito Ortega Matute / Ponciano del Pino

Part Three. Performing a Fractured Past

7. Commemorative Paths in Sacsamarca / Ricardo Caro Cárdenas

8. Colliding with Memory: Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani's Sin Título, Técnica Mixta / Cynthia M. Garza

9. The "Voice of the Victims": Testimonial Songs in Rural Ayachucho / Jonathan Ritter

Afterword. The Artist's Truth: The Post-Auschwitz Predicament after Latin America's Age of Dirty Wars / Steve J. Stern



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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5530-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5515-1
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