University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > Violent Reverberations: The Politics of History in César Aira’s 'Ema, la cautiva' (Ema, the Captive)

Violent Reverberations: The Politics of History in César Aira’s 'Ema, la cautiva' (Ema, the Captive)

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Where much research focuses on comic and playful elements in César Aira’s work, or on the forms of Aira’s literature and its relationship with Argentine or Latin American literary tradition, this paper constructs a political reading of Aira’s novel ‘Ema, la cautiva’. I consider the historical circumstances of the periods in which Aira set and published his novel (immediately prior to the culminating episode in the Conquest of the Desert in 1879 and during the military government of 1976-1983 when references to the Conquest of the Desert were utilised to justify the ‘dirty war’) to argue that, although Aira’s ironic mode of writing makes the development of parallels between historical periods fraught with difficulty, the novel contains a latent critique of the military government, the dirty war and of Peronist economic policies prior to the coup of 1976. Additionally, I consider Ema, la cautiva in conjunction with the work of Dipesh Chakrabarty and Deleuze and Guattari to explore the inadvertent structural violence of ‘universal history’ exercised upon indigenous communities in Argentina and the ‘everyday paradox of third-world social science’

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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