This dissertation explores the work of Colombian writer Evelio Rosero (1958), whose work-like many of his nation's generation, but with a radically new aesthetic and ethic proposal-- focuses on violence and on the disappearance of people in the context of the armed conflict that has ravaged Colombia for the last thirty years.
Despite having a long and consistent literary career that started in the early eighties and having received prestigious awards, Rosero continues to be almost unknown both nationally and internationally. My dissertation contends that such lack of recognition is serious and that current conversations about Colombian literature and the representation of violence more broadly cannot be done without taking into account his disruptive work. Through a careful analysis of Rosero's most representative novels -Señor que no conoce la luna, En el lejero and Los Ejércitos-- I examine the literary techniques the author uses to produce a space -both literary and political--that neither justifies nor exacerbates violence.
Based primarily on the concept of the spectral put forth by Jacques Derrida in Specters of Marx, on Mieke Bal's position on political art and on Jean-Luc Nancy's construction of rebellion in Noli me tangere, I demonstrate how Rosero's novels highlight the discourses and mechanisms that put into place and even sanction the violence they supposedly lament.
The dissertation is divided in three chapters. Chronologically organized, each one examines one of Rosero's most representative novels.
In the introduction I contextualize Rosero's literary work within the larger efforts to represent Colombia's violent situation. I argue that by focusing on disappearance, ambiguity and spectrality Rosero avoids the most common and problematic pitfalls of such texts. I take the position that by doing so Rosero gives visibility to the many ways in which a state of violence is (re)produced and represented -both aesthetically and politically--signalling a complicity (not necessarily deliberate) between the two.
The first chapter analyzes Señor que no conoce la luna. I argue that by focusing in the way los vestidos enslave and torture los desnudos due to their dual genitalia, Rosero shows the artificiality and arbitrariness of our social constructions and highlights how they are used to infringe extreme violence to a particular group of people. I contend that in the unregulated circulation of erotic desire Rosero finds a way out of this structure of abjection.
The second chapter deals with the radical "spectralization" that takes place in En el lejero. I take the position that Rosero's emphasis on the difficulty of identifying people and spaces, and his refusal to stabilize meaning are effective tools in dismantling a system of oppression and violence while opening a space for agency and solidarity.
The third and last chapter studies Rosero's most famous novel, Los Ejércitos. I read the novel's contrast between moments of intense visibility and instances of extreme obscurity and confusion as a way to underscore the violent nature of certain ways of looking at things and people. Rosero's insistence in our bonds with, and responsibility towards, what can no longer, not yet, be seen or heard is key to create a space for the political that is not based on violence and exclusion.
To conclude, I argue that through Jacques Derrida's "impure impure history of ghosts" Rosero develops an aesthetically astonishing and politically crucial way of re-counting and accounting for the violence that a prolonged state of warfare continues to (re)produce in Latin America.