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Placing Memory: Postdictatorial Documentaries in the Southern Cone


My dissertation, Placing Memory: Postdictatorial Documentaries in the Southern Cone, examines recent films from Argentina and Chile that take up the dictatorships of the 1970s and ‘80s in each country. I argue that these documentaries provide a new vantage point from which to consider how spaces in the postdictatorial landscape are mediated, shaped, and reshaped in memory over time, remolded to the demands of each successive generation.

I begin by considering the politics of these recent documentaries in relation with the more militant films of the New Latin American Cinema of the ‘60s and ‘70s. This chapter also includes consideration of the different relationships to memory of those who experienced the dictatorship as adults, and the postmemory generation, or those who were children during, or were born after the dictatorship. In the two chapters that follow, I consider films that employ sites with memorial significance: first, official memorial sites, with wide recognition and significance, and second, sites that resonate within individual or smaller-scale memories, whether that of the filmmaker or their subjects. I read these sites through the films and through my own site visits in order to elucidate the ways in which the films alter the experience of the sites, or function as memorials in their own right. Finally, I examine the networks of distribution and sites of exhibition for these films, including museums that exhibit documentary clips, screenings at memory sites and at schools, and documentary representations of the space of exhibition in a memorial context.

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