Literature and Art in Court: Investigative Aesthetics and Dissonant Narratives in the Global South

PROJECTOUTLINE

Oscar Muñoz. Protografías. 2011

Book Published by Museo de Arte del Banco de la República.

© Oscar Muñoz & Sicardi Gallery

This project discusses the role of investigative aesthetics in situations of (post-)conflict and transition and examines the mnemonic/archival potential and counter-semantics of literature and art as dissonant narratives for addressing critical historiographies, accountability, responsibility, and truth both in Colombia and Lebanon. So it reassesses the relationship between investigative aesthetics, their forums and the court that has shaped the historical narratives about violent pasts, while it critically inquires into transitional justice, which rests on the premise that it is necessary to attend to the past in order to progress into a future, in which the past has been understood, documented and judged. Moreover, the concept stipulates the rights of victims, and of civil society more generally, in terms of non-judicial mechanisms for the reconstruction of truth – beyond the Special Tribunal for Lebanon or the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. It gives space to the collective dimension of truth telling and truth constructions, material witnessing and with them to the critical function of archives to guarantee the right to memory and the access to judicial records.

it reassesses the relationship between investigative aesthetics, their forums and the court that has shaped the historical narratives about violent pasts.

The Hague, Netherlands. January 16, 2014. 

Courtroom of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

© REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos

This project gives special emphasis to the contemporary literary and artistic practices in Colombia and Lebanon that reflect the historical threshold provoked by the respective conflicts and caesura in art and literature. Aesthetic strategies profoundly question the notions of testimony and historical witnessing: the narrative tropes of victim and perpetrator articulate a lieu of enunciation for addressing oblivion and the relationship between the subjects, their memories and human time. Accordingly, the project also seeks to examine related memorial and architectural sites, and those visual or material archives that, read against the grain, potentially configure other forums and alternate spaces of cultural, material and mnemonic negotiations of political conflicts. It thus brings into the foreground the ‘courtroom’, both as physical site and legal forum, with its media technological environments to discuss the conceptual and material entanglements between contemporary literature, art and their investigative aesthetics, and the law with its trials, truth and/or historical commissions.

Writers and artists alike have questioned the writing of the history, the state of historical amnesia, and the lasting political violence in the two regions, not so much in their articulations as representations, but rather as experiences and historical consciousness. This project aims to unfold the civil imaginations behind these literary and artistic strategies, aesthetic and archival practices to discuss the articulated spaces of ethos and alternate writings of history that might allow a possible reconciliation.

This project gives special emphasis to the contemporary literary and artistic practices in Colombia and Lebanon that reflect the historical threshold provoked by the respective conflicts and caesura in art and literature.

REFERENCES

  1. Derrida, Jacques. Force de loi. Paris, 1994.

  2. Felman, Shoshana. The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, 2002.

  3. Koschorke, Albrecht. Wahrheit und Erfindung. Grundzüge einer Allgemeinen Erzähltheorie. Frankfurt am Main, 2012.

  4. Vismann, Cornelia. Medien der Rechtsprechung. Frankfurt am Main, 2011.

BIO

PROF. DR.
LILIANA GÓMEZ-POPESCU

Since April 2017 I have been a SNSF-professor (Swiss National Science Foundation) at the University of Zurich where I direct the research project Contested Amnesia and Dissonant Narratives in the Global South. Post-Conflict in Literature, Art, and Emergent Archives. Previously, I held positions and visiting positions at the University Halle, Harvard University, Columbia University, and Technische Universität Dresden.

After graduating in philosophy and architecture from the Technische Universität Berlin (2003), and studies at the Sorbonne-Panthéon, École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris and the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, I realized my PhD thesis on cultural modernization, political and cultural theories of the modern city in Latin America at the Freie Universität Berlin and New York University (2007). I received the Habilitation and the venia legendi for Ibero-Romance literature and cultural analysis at the University of Zurich (2016), where I completed the Habilitationsschrift, my second book, A Laboratory of the Modern. The Caribbean in Photographic Archives (publication forthcoming).

Currently, I am also an affiliated researcher at the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB) in Lebanon and a council member of the Visual Culture Studies Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA).

My research fields are comparative literatures; literary, cultural and media theory; visual cultures and architecture; environmental humanities and creative human rights; political philosophy.

SELECTEDPUBLICATIONS

  1. La masacre de las bananeras: la imagen fotográfica y la literatura“, in: Schuster, Sven, and Óscar Daniel Hernández Quiñones (eds.), Imaginando América Latina: historia y cultura visual, siglos XIX a XXI. Bogotá, 2017.

  2. Re-presenting and Narrating Labour. Coolie Migration in the Caribbean, in: Damir-Geilsdorf, Sabine, and Ulrike Lindner, Oliver Tappe, Michael Zeuske (eds.), Bonded Labour. Global and Comparative Perspectives (18th-21st Century). Bielefeld, 2016: 191-218.

  3. Kommentar, in: Exner, Isabel, and Gudrun Rath (eds.), Lateinamerikanische Kulturtheorien. Grundlagentexte. Konstanz/Munich, 2015: 299-306.

  4. (as guest editor) Special Issue History through PhotographyE.I.A.L. Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe. 2015, 26 (2).

  5. Towards a History through Photography. An Introduction, in: E.I.A.L. Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe. 2015, 26 (2): 7-16.

  6. „Epilogue. Archive Matters, in: E.I.A.L. Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe. 2015, 26 (2): 95-103.

  7. Lo urbano. Teorías culturales y políticas de la ciudad en América Latina. Pittsburgh, 2014.

  8. With Walter van Herck (eds.). The Sacred in the City. London/New York, 2012.

  9. With Gesine Müller (eds.). Relaciones caribeñas. Entrecruzamientos de dos siglos/Relations caribéennes. Entrecroisements de deux siècles. Frankfurt am Main, 2011.

  10. With Carlos Rincón and Sarah Mojica (eds.). Entre el olvido y el recuerdo. Iconos, lugares de memoria y cánones de la historia y la literatura en Colombia. Bogotá, 2010.