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“We fight for the memory of our children”: Political memory, favela heritage, and mothers of victims of state violence

Authors:

Maria Eduarda Ota ,

Griffith University, AU
About Maria

Maria Eduarda Ota is a sociologist with a research interest in black feminism, urban violence and Human Rights. Her work has been published most recently in the Journal of Intercultural Studies.

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Robert Mason

Griffith University, AU
About Robert

Robert Mason is a cultural historian, whose research focuses on public histories and heritage connected with violent, colonial and contested pasts. His recent work has been published in Heritage and Society, the International Journal of Heritage Studies, and the Journal of Intercultural Studies.

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Abstract

There have been extensive studies of the struggles against Latin American military dictatorships of the 1960s and 1980s, especially regarding the activism of mothers of political activists who were disappeared. However there has been far less research about women’s continued struggle for memory, truth, and justice in contemporary Latin America. There has been even less consideration of how small-scale urban protesters use memory within urban cultural geographies of activism. This article explores the production of political memory by mothers of victims of state violence in Rio de Janeiro. The mother’s struggle encompasses heritage practices in favelas, as well as in the central business district, but deliberately recall and amplify the claims for justice from the 1960s and 1980s. This recalls not only the heritage connected with the dictatorship, but situates their practices within activists’ lived experiences of the colonial state and its attempts to render their murdered children criminals. 

Resumen: “Luchamos por la memoria de nuestros hijos”: Memoria política, patrimonio de favela y madres de víctimas de violencia estatal

Existen amplios estudios sobre las luchas contra las dictaduras militares latinoamericanas de los años sesenta y ochenta, sobretodo sobre el activismo de las madres de los activistas políticos desaparecidos. Sin embargo, apenas se ha investigado la continua lucha de las mujeres por la memoria, la verdad y la justicia en la América Latina contemporánea; y aún menos cómo los manifestantes urbanos a pequeña escala utilizan la memoria dentro de las geografías culturales urbanas del activismo. Este artículo explora la producción de memoria política por parte de las madres de las víctimas de la violencia estatal en Río de Janeiro. Su lucha abarca prácticas patrimoniales en las favelas y en el distrito comercial central, pero recuerda y amplifica deliberadamente las reivindicaciones de justicia de los años sesenta y ochenta. No solo recuerda la herencia relacionada con la dictadura, sino que sitúa sus prácticas dentro de las experiencias vividas por los activistas del estado colonial y sus intentos de convertir a sus hijos asesinados en criminales.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10898
How to Cite: Ota, M. E., & Mason, R. (2022). “We fight for the memory of our children”: Political memory, favela heritage, and mothers of victims of state violence. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, (113), 103–122. DOI: http://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10898
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Published on 30 Jun 2022.
Peer Reviewed

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