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Special Collection

Heritage, protests and coloniality in contemporary Latin America

Collection launched: 29 Jun 2022
This Special Collection uses Critical Heritage Studies to examine the spaces and scales of protest against social injustice that occur in the major cities of Latin America. Through this framework, contributors focus on the convergence between human rights, social movements, and urban spaces, to ask how past violence catalyses contemporary events. In so doing, the Special Issues addresses the intersecting resistances to the historical injustices of coloniality, slavery, human rights abuse, and First Nations dispossession. Latin America has been at the forefront of research into the nexus of human rights and memory since the 1990s. Scholars engaged closely with this so-called democratic transition in the decades that followed, developing new insights into the relationship between dictatorship and social memory (Jelin, 1991). These societies continue to grapple with the legacy of decades of authoritarian and oppressive governments, and many of the assumptions of earlier scholars are being revisited in the 2020s. Intersectional questions of race (Walker, 2018), indigeneity (Anderson, 2019), gender (Sanford et al., 2020), and rurality (Feldman, 2019) continue to refashion our understanding of memory and injustice. This Special Issue creates new dialogue on these issues, through questions of how human rights abuse and resistance to violence are directly constituted through communities’ memories of the past. While Latin American scholars have pioneered global approaches to Memory Studies, the new interdisciplinary field of Critical Heritage Studies has only burgeoned more recently in the region. Critical Heritage Studies offers a means to understand how space, scale, and society interact to create meaning and engage with violent pasts. With a focus on place and space, this Special Collection extends traditional conceptions of urban heritage as the mere conservation of cities’ landscapes. Instead, contributors draw particular attention to the cultural geographies of urban landscapes as totemic spaces for the production and performance of protests (Badilla Rajevic, 2020). These historic spaces enable unique formulations of protest for activists, creating new capacities to contest human rights abuse (Mason, 2018).