Drawing from an interdisciplinary framework of cultural studies and critical theory, in this talk I examine the relationship between memory and human rights discourse presented in two sites of cultural memory: the Memorial da Resistência in São Paulo, Brazil and the Espacio para la memoria y la Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Through a theoretical interrogation of the concept of nunca más/nunca mais [never again] and close analyses of photography exhibits, audio-visual installations, and other visual art forms installed at the sites of former detention and torture centers during dictatorship, I explore how aesthetic interventions can open up alternative ways of conceptualizing human rights subjectivity in the present—beyond the rhetoric of liberal humanitarianism. I explore how the tensions between the testimonial tenor of permanent exhibits and the aesthetic interventions of temporary visual culture installations presented at these memory sites can introduce perspectives that undo common understanding of authoritarian violence and its effects, and reconfigure who or what are visible as subjects of memory and human rights in postdictatorial societies.
Andrew C. Rajca (PhD Arizona, 2010) is an assistant professor of Portuguese and Spanish and the Portuguese program director at the University of South Carolina. His research focuses on literary and visual culture in Latin America through the lens of Latin American cultural studies and critical theory. His published articles and forthcoming book, Dissensual Subjects: Memory, Human Rights, and Postdictatorship in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay (Northwestern University Press, 2018), examine the themes of memory, human rights, and political subjectivity through literature, film, photography, and the plastic arts. He has recently begun working on a new research project focused on urban theory, aesthetics, and cinema in São Paulo, Brazil.