Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Myth, Cultural Memory and Resistance in Latin American Narratives

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2011), 88, (6), 617–633.

Abstract

In Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia, Huyssen (1995) suggests that 'in opposition to conventional thinking – societies develop not so much through remembering the past as they do through forgetting it'. However, while it is true that 'the past is not simply there in memory, but it must be articulated to become memory', that does not have to mean that 'if articulation of the past is forbidden by political or religious pressures, then the past is erased from memory'. While it would be naive to think that things are remembered in a simple, pristine way, all cultural continuity or tradition is marked by change and cultural memory is always subject to a creative process: hence, re-imagining – not forgetting – the past is the basis for how cultures survive or reinvent themselves. Drawing on examples from oral traditions and literature, the article shows how, in dynamic resistance to oppression and the negative influence on their communities by invaders and outsiders, Latin American peoples and writers have actively and creatively redefined/ reinvented their past/cultural memory to point to positive alternatives to Western, capitalist modernity.

En Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia (1995), Huyssen sugiere que 'en oposición al pensamiento convencional – las sociedades no se desarrollan tanto a través de recordar el pasado como a través de olvidarlo'. Mientras es cierto que 'el pasado no simplemente está allá, sino tiene que ser articulado para convertirse en memoria', esto no quiere decir que 'si la articulación del pasado es prohibido por presiones políticas o religiosas, entonces el pasado se borra de la memoria'. Mientras que sería ingenuo pensar que lo que sucede se recuerda de una manera simple y clara, toda continuidad cultural o tradición está marcada por cambios y la memoria siempre depende de un proceso creativo: por lo tanto, re-imaginar – no olvidar – el pasado es la base de cómo las culturas sobreviven, o se reinventan. Haciendo uso de ejemplos de las tradiciones orales y de la literatura, este artículo muestra como, en una resistencia dinámica a la opresión y a la influencia negativa sobre sus comunidades de invasores y forasteros, la gente y los escritores latinoamericanos han redefinido/reinventado activa y creativamente su pasado/memoria cultural para indicar alternativas positivas a la modernidad occidental capitalista.

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Arguedas, José María, 1973. Los ríos profundos, ed. William Rowe (Oxford: Pergamon Press). Los ríos profundos Google Scholar

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Arguedas, José María, 1990. 'No soy un aculturado', in José María Arguedas, El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo, ed. E-M. Fell (Madrid: Colección Archivos). Google Scholar

Argueta, Manlio, 2006. Poesía Completa, 1956–2005. Edición crítica de Astvaldur Astvaldsson. Maryland: Ediciones Hispoamérica. Edición crítica de Astvaldur Astvaldsson Poesía Completa, 1956–2005 Google Scholar

Astvaldsson, Astvaldur, 1998. 'The Powers of Hard Rock: Meaning, Transformation and Continuity in Cultural Symbols in the Andes', Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 7.2: 203–23. The Powers of Hard Rock: Meaning, Transformation and Continuity in Cultural Symbols in the Andes Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 7.2 203 23 Google Scholar

Astvaldsson, Astvaldur, 2000a. Las voces de los wak'a: fuentes principales del poder político aymara. Vol. 4 of the series Jesús de Machaqa: La marka rebelde (La Paz: CIPCA). Google Scholar

Astvaldsson, Astvaldur, 2000b. 'The Dynamics of Aymara Duality: Change and Continuity in Sociopolitical Structures in the Bolivian Andes', Journal of Latin American Studies, 32: 145–74. The Dynamics of Aymara Duality: Change and Continuity in Sociopolitical Structures in the Bolivian Andes Journal of Latin American Studies 32 145 74 Google Scholar

Astvaldsson, Astvaldur, 2003. 'Sondeando el pasado naciente: Expresiones del paisaje andino en Los ríos profundos de José María Arguedas', in James Higgins (ed.), Heterogeneidad y literatura en el Perú (Lima: CELACP), pp. 253–80. Google Scholar

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Astvaldsson, Astvaldur, 2011. 'Mitos, paisaje y modernidad en la literatura latinoamericana', in Magdalena Chocano, William Rowe and Helena Usandizaga (eds), Huellas del mito prehispánico en la literatura latinoamericana (Madrid/Frankfurt: Iberoamericana/Vervuert), pp. 67–90. Mitos, paisaje y modernidad en la literatura latinoamericana Huellas del mito prehispánico en la literatura latinoamericana 67 90 Google Scholar

Brotherston, Gordon, 1992. Book of the Fourth World: Reading the Native Americas through their Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Book of the Fourth World: Reading the Native Americas through their Literature Google Scholar

Circular, 2008. 'Cultural Memory: Forgetting to Remember/Remembering to Forget'. Kent Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Kent, available at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/kiash/events/culturalmemory/papers.html Google Scholar

de la Cadena, Marisol, 2000. Indigenous Mestizos: The Politics of Race and Culture in Cuzco, Peru, 1919–1991 (Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press). Indigenous Mestizos: The Politics of Race and Culture in Cuzco, Peru, 1919–1991 Google Scholar

del Valle Escalante, in press. 'Poesía Maya Contemporánea y la economía moral de los pasados subalternos: Gaspar Pedro González y Víctor Montejo', in Beatriz Cortez, Verónica Ríos and Alejandra Ortiz (eds), Hacia una historia de las literaturas centroamericanas. Tomo VI (San José/ Guatemala: Costa Rica University Press/F&G Editores). Google Scholar

Gisbert, Teresa, 1980. Iconografía y mitos indígenas en el arte (La Paz: Gisbert). Iconografía y mitos indígenas en el arte Google Scholar

Harwood, Frances, 1976. 'Myth, memory, and the Oral Tradition: Cicero in the Trobriands', American Anthropologist, 78: 783–96. Myth, memory, and the Oral Tradition: Cicero in the Trobriands American Anthropologist 78 783 96 Google Scholar

Harvey, Penny, 1997. 'Peruvian Independence Day: Ritual, Memory, and the Erasure of Narra-tive', in Rosaleen Howard-Malverde (ed.), Creating Context in Andean Cultures (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 21–44. Peruvian Independence Day: Ritual, Memory, and the Erasure of Narra-tive Creating Context in Andean Cultures 21 44 Google Scholar

Huyssen, Andreas (1995). Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia (New York: Routledge). Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia Google Scholar

Melis, Antonio, 1998. 'Foreword', in Ciro A. Sandoval and Sandra M. Boschetto-Sandoval (eds), José María Arguedas: Reconsiderations for Latin American Cultural Studies (Athens: Ohio University Press), pp. ix–xvii. Foreword José María Arguedas: Reconsiderations for Latin American Cultural Studies ix xvii Google Scholar

Montejo, Victor, 2001. El Q'anil: Man of Lightning. Tucsan: University of Arizona Press. El Q'anil: Man of Lightning Google Scholar

Rappaport, Joanne, 1997. 'The Art of Ethnic Militancy: Theatre and Indigenous Consciousness in Columbia', in Rosaleen Howard-Malverde (ed.), Creating Context in Andean Cultures (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 55–69. The Art of Ethnic Militancy: Theatre and Indigenous Consciousness in Columbia Creating Context in Andean Cultures 55 69 Google Scholar

Rowe, William, 1996. Ensayos Arguedianos (Lima: Sur). Ensayos Arguedianos Google Scholar

Sá, Lúcia, 2004. Rain Forest Literatures: Amazonian Texts and Latin American Culture (Minneapolis and London: Minnesota University Press). Rain Forest Literatures: Amazonian Texts and Latin American Culture Google Scholar

Sandoval, Ciro A. 1998. 'Introduction', in Ciro A. Sandoval and Sandra M. Boschetto-Sandoval (eds), José María Arguedas: Reconsiderations for Latin American Cultural Studies (Athens: Ohio University Press), pp. xxi–xlii. Introduction José María Arguedas: Reconsiderations for Latin American Cultural Studies xxi xlii Google Scholar

Vargas Llosa, Mario, 1996. La utopía arcaica: José María Arguedas y las ficciones del indigenismo (México: FCE). La utopía arcaica: José María Arguedas y las ficciones del indigenismo Google Scholar

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Astvaldsson, Astvaldur