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Salt in the Sand: Memory Violence and the Nation-State in Chile 1890 to the Present Lessie Jo Frazier Duke University Press Books


30th July 2011 History Books 2 Comments

“A path-breaking study of history and memory in Chile’s legendary nitrate north that ties together the massacres of miners in the early twentieth century and the human rights abuses of the Pinochet era. A highly original contribution to memory studies, gender studies, and Chilean history.”—Peter Winn, editor of Victims of the Chilean Miracle: Workers and Neoliberalism in the Pinochet Era, 1973–2002

“The hot winds of the Atacama desert in northern Chile have not succeeded in erasing what has become the territory of Lessie Jo Frazier’s Salt in the Sand, a book centered on the meanings of the deep memories of repression, massacres, and executions that contributed to the formation of Chilean popular identity. Well written and theoretically and historically original, Salt in the Sand reveals the continuous dialogue between events and subjectivities throughout the Chilean twentieth century.”—Francisco Zapata, El Colegio de México

“The modern Chilean state has been linked to violence since its inception, despite official historiography’s assertion that the 1973 coup and the Pinochet regime that followed were ‘aberrations’ in an otherwise democratic order favoring peace. Lessie Jo Frazier illuminates the competing uses of the past across cultural, racial, and class lines. Through her brilliant analysis of memory as a dynamic category employed by clashing collectivities, Frazier demonstrates how the use of memory in post-dictatorial regimes is not in and of itself liberating or new, but rather modeled on previous historical instances of remembering and forgetting.”—Licia Fiol-Matta, author of A Queer Mother for the Nation: The State and Gabriela Mistral

Lessie Jo Frazier is Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and Adjunct Assistant Professor of History at Indiana University, Bloomington. She is a coeditor of Gender’s Place: Feminist Anthropologies of Latin America.

Salt in the Sand is a compelling historical ethnography of the interplay between memory and state violence in the formation of the Chilean nation-state. The historian and anthropologist Lessie Jo Frazier focuses on northern Chile, which figures prominently in the nation’s history as a site of military glory during the period of national conquest, of labor strikes and massacres in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, and of state detention and violence during World War II and the Cold War. It was also the site of a mass-grave excavation that galvanized the national human rights movement in 1990, during Chile’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. Frazier analyzes the creation of official and alternative memories of specific instances of state violence in northern Chile from 1890 to the present, tracing how the form and content of those memories changed over time. In so doing, she shows how memory works to create political subjectivities mobilized for specific political projects within what she argues is the always-ongoing process of nation-state formation. Frazier’s broad historical perspective on political culture challenges the conventional periodization of modern Chilean history, particularly the idea that the 1973 military coup marked a radical break with the past.

Analyzing multiple memories of state violence, Frazier innovatively shapes social and cultural theory to interpret a range of sources, including local and national government archives, personal papers, popular literature and music, interviews, architectural and ceremonial commemorations, and her ethnographic observations of civic associations, women’s and environmental groups, and human rights organizations. A masterful integration of extensive empirical research with sophisticated theoretical analysis, Salt in the Sand is a significant contribution to interdisciplinary scholarship on human rights, democratization, state formation, and national trauma and reconciliation.

“A path-breaking study of history and memory in Chile’s legendary nitrate north that ties together the massacres of miners in the early twentieth century and the human rights abuses of the Pinochet era. A highly original contribution to memory studies, gender studies, and Chilean history.”—Peter Winn, editor of Victims of the Chilean Miracle: Workers and Neoliberalism in the Pinochet Era, 1973–2002

“The hot winds of the Atacama desert in northern Chile have not succeeded in erasing what has become the territory of Lessie Jo Frazier’s Salt in the Sand, a book centered on the meanings of the deep memories of repression, massacres, and executions that contributed to the formation of Chilean popular identity. Well written and theoretically and historically original, Salt in the Sand reveals the continuous dialogue between events and subjectivities throughout the Chilean twentieth century.”—Francisco Zapata, El Colegio de México

“The modern Chilean state has been linked to violence since its inception, despite official historiography’s assertion that the 1973 coup and the Pinochet regime that followed were ‘aberrations’ in an otherwise democratic order favoring peace. Lessie Jo Frazier illuminates the competing uses of the past across cultural, racial, and class lines. Through her brilliant analysis of memory as a dynamic category employed by clashing collectivities, Frazier demonstrates how the use of memory in post-dictatorial regimes is not in and of itself liberating or new, but rather modeled on previous historical instances of remembering and forgetting.”—Licia Fiol-Matta, author of A Queer Mother for the Nation: The State and Gabriela Mistral

Salt in the Sand: Memory, Violence, and the Nation-State in Chile, 1890 to the Present (Politics, History, and Culture)

A Century of Revolution: Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Violence during Latin America’s Long Cold War

“It has become commonplace when reviewing edited books to note that the quality of the chapters is uneven. Happily, I will not resort to saying this here, since all the chapters are excellent! This book reexamines twentieth-century Latin American history by focusing on key revolutionary and counterrevolutionary moments and movements across the region and the connections between them. The result is a stimulating discussion of the role that violence played in giving rise to revolutionary attempts to end injustice, how revolutionary movements conceptualized and employed violence to achieve their goals, and how counterrevolutionary forces ruthlessly unleashed violence to subdue and eliminate, literally and figuratively, revolutionaries and the possibility of revolutionary change.” – Margaret Power, The Americas

“A Century of Revolution has much of value to offer. . . . The ten essays by Latin Americanists in A Century of Revolution bear out the considerable historiographical value of the reinterpretive efforts in which Grandin and Joseph have been engaged for over a decade.“ – Arthur Schmidt, A Contracorriente

“Showcasing the work of a remarkable group of scholars, this collection provides a sweeping reinterpretation of Latin America’s twentieth century and a thought-provoking intervention into our understanding of the history and meaning of political violence.”—Laurent Dubois, author of Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution

“The abstract rejection of violence is one of the pillars of today’s hegemonic liberal ideology, and is paradoxically used to legitimize the most brutal forms of actual violence. This is why this outstanding book not only offers an excellent study of the Latin American revolutionary process, but has universal relevance. Its precise analysis of the necessary role of emancipatory violence against the violence of the system itself brings a breath of fresh air into the stale moralism of the liberal Left. A much-needed awakening from our humanitarian dogmatic dream!”—Slavoj iek

Latin America experienced an epochal cycle of revolutionary upheavals and insurgencies during the twentieth century, from the Mexican Revolution of 1910 through the mobilizations and terror in Central America, the Southern Cone, and the Andes during the 1970s and 1980s. In his introduction to A Century of Revolution, Greg Grandin argues that the dynamics of political violence and terror in Latin America are so recognizable in their enforcement of domination, their generation and maintenance of social exclusion, and their propulsion of historical change, that historians have tended to take them for granted, leaving unexamined important questions regarding their form and meaning. The essays in this groundbreaking collection take up these questions, providing a sociologically and historically nuanced view of the ideological hardening and accelerated polarization that marked Latin America’s twentieth century. Attentive to the interplay among overlapping local, regional, national, and international fields of power, the contributors focus on the dialectical relations between revolutionary and counterrevolutionary processes and their unfolding in the context of U.S. hemispheric and global hegemony. Through their fine-grained analyses of events in Chile, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru, they suggest a framework for interpreting the experiential nature of political violence while also analyzing its historical causes and consequences. In so doing, they set a new agenda for the study of revolutionary change and political violence in twentieth-century Latin America.

Contributors
Michelle Chase
Jeffrey L. Gould
Greg Grandin
Lillian Guerra
Forrest Hylton
Gilbert M. Joseph
Friedrich Katz
Thomas Miller Klubock
Neil Larsen
Arno J. Mayer
Carlota McAllister
Jocelyn Olcott
Gerardo Rénique
Corey Robin
Peter Winn

A Century of Revolution: Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Violence during Latin America’s Long Cold War (American Encounters/Global Interactions)










  • 2 responses to "Salt in the Sand: Memory Violence and the Nation-State in Chile 1890 to the Present Lessie Jo Frazier Duke University Press Books"

  • Dave S.
    16:09 on July 30th, 2011
    Reply to comment

    Other books may deal with memory and human rights but few deeply take history and theory into account while still providing a rich, human sense of what it might be like to live through a devastating century. The best of the memory in Chile books; the best of the memory studies books.

  • Bobert
    21:49 on August 3rd, 2011
    Reply to comment

    I found this book to be thoughtful and provocative; it tells a compelling and difficult story that links violence, social/political unrest, and memory with nation-state projects and the kinds of affective connections that these projects require in citizens. The author draws you in in her juxtaposition of well-known and forgotten incidents in Chilean history, and with her complex reading of these events. Of particular note, _Salt in the Sand_ is groundbreaking in its vision of the state and how particular (state) projects require that constituents hold particular subjectivities –senses of themselves in relation to these projects. This book will appeal to those interested in social movements, nation-state formation, and the shifting relationships between citizens and states. Not for the faint of heart or for those wanting light bedtime reading, but well worth the trouble.

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