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Lorenza Böttner: Capitalist Success and (Queer) Failure in Chile's Dictatorship

  • Author(s): Fischer, Carl
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License
Abstract

As with any cultural history, the matter of creating one about Chile’s dictatorship is fraught with a number of political problems; the matter of creating aqueercultural history of the dictatorship is a somewhat related task, and as such it is all the more difficult. Cultural histories are often linked to literary canons, of course, defined as much by whom they exclude as by whom they include. In her 2011 bookThe Queer Art of Failure, Judith Halberstam connects the writing of queer historiography, and its ensuing canonical implications, with capitalist rhetoric of success and failure: critiquing the way “we are so endlessly seduced by the idea that sexual expression is in and of itself a revolutionary act” (150), she cautions against the cliché of describing “early narratives of gay and lesbian life as ‘hidden from history,’” based on ideas that render “gay and lesbian history as a repressed archive and the historian as an intrepid archaeologist digging through homophobic erasure to find the truth” (148). Those recovered are the “winners,” written into history and posterity; but Halberstam is also interested in the “failures” in queer history, that is, those whose narratives are not necessarily politically convenient or “palatable.” My aim here is to intervene in the queer cultural history, and the canon, of Chile’s dictatorship; however, I am going to be wary not only of writing a clichéd paper that, as Halberstam says, “locates the plucky queer as a heroic freedom fighter in a world of puritans” (150), to invert the “winners” and “losers” in historical and political narratives.

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