Post-representational Cultural Memory for Children in Chile: From La Composición to Bear Story

Abstract

This article analyses texts intended for child audiences—picturebooks, a poetry book, and a film—that deal with the Chilean dictatorship (1973–1990). The memorialization practices within children’s media appear to be modelled on the difficulties of finding a national consensus regarding the events that transpired during the dictatorship and the appropriate ways of rendering them for children. Lydia Kokkola’s work on the Holocaust as a motif shows that gaps of information are left to be picked up by the adult reading alongside the child. Children’s literature that refers to state violence is described as elusive or circumventive. This article approaches these texts as complex materialities, suspending the paradigm of representation and interpretation. Inspired by Ulrich Gumbrecht’s call for a post-hermeneutic literary theory and by new materialistic approaches to the humanities and education, it is argued that these texts are more profitably read and experienced as artworks that escape pedagogic domestication. Accordingly, this article examines these selected texts as pieces that may smuggle meanings and intensities into educational settings if their complexity is not reduced by mediation practices.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    I am speaking about indigenously produced works. There were novels produced elsewhere, like James Watson's award winning Talking in Whispers (1983).

  2. 2.

    All translations are mine, with the exception of this poem, by American literary translator Megan McDowell.

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Acknowledgement

This article was funded by Conicyt (Comisión de Ciencia y Tecnología) Project PIA CIE 160007

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Correspondence to Macarena García-González.

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Macarena García-González is research associate at the Center for Advanced Studies on Educational Justice at the Universidad Católica de Chile. She has a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies from Zurich University and an MA in Cultural Studies from Maastricht University. She writes about children’s literature and media and about emotion and posthumanism in educational contexts. She has recently published Origin Narratives: The Stories We Tell Children about International Adoption and Immigration (Routledge, 2017).

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García-González, M. Post-representational Cultural Memory for Children in Chile: From La Composición to Bear Story. Child Lit Educ 51, 160–178 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10583-018-9361-y

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Keywords

  • Memory
  • Picturebooks
  • New materialism
  • Augusto Pinochet
  • Affect theory
  • Chilean dictatorship