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The Human Memorial: Anzaldúa and the Other Side of Trauma


Abstract for Online Program Book (maximum 1200 characters including spaces)

The so-called memory boom caused by the unprecedented violence of the 20th century not only produced a rush of memorials and museums; it also produced a new kind of subalternity that essentially, and paradoxically, fulfills the same telos as the state-sponsored memorial. As such, and because of the dehumanization that the subaltern experiences by being in the margins of power, the trauma they embody constitutes the ambiguous platform on which societies will ultimately have to negotiate their capacity for a humane future amid a past full of atrocities. To show this, we will stand on the other side of subalternity as introduced by Gareth Williams, and by looking into the parallel between the memory process in the biblical account of the Flood in Genesis, and that of Gloria Anzaldùa living as a Chicana in the US-Mexico borderlands. This analysis proposes that the body of the subaltern has been the ancient forerunner of memorials by functioning as a "human memorial" or the objectified vessels of living trauma, and as such, their experience speaks directly to the struggle of the “memory boom” to humanize objects in order to humanize the Other.