Geographies of Violence. Contemporary Chronicles of Violence in the Americas

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2005-05-06

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Abstract

This dissertation analyzes the works of contemporary artists from the Americas who produce representations of urban violence through multi-media chronicles. The chroniclers studied are the Chilean Pedro Lemebel, the Brazilians Paulo Lins, Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, and the U.S. Latinos Joseph Rodríguez, Rubén Martínez, and Luis Rodríguez. The texts produced by these artists not only represent and explain contemporary geographies of violence but also become geographies of violence that audiences need to learn to inhabit and traverse. This dissertation addresses how the chronicle, in particular, articulates violence, identifies the advantages of using this genre to represent urban violence, considers how existing geographies of violence are distributed within the city and discusses how relevant the notion of space is to both their material development and manifestation and their symbolic presence through the chronicle.

   The comparative textual analysis of the selected chronicles demonstrates how violence is understood and represented by contemporary artists with different backgrounds and exposes the differences and similarities of their representations. Reading these chroniclers comparatively enables the consideration of a variety of different media through which violence is expressed in order to determine how the choices made by the artists affect the reception of their works. Such analysis allows an in-depth study of what these artists do with the genre of the chronicle: first, how having chosen the chronicle affects their particular renditions of violence; second, how the chronicle as a genre is affected by the specific content of urban violence; and, ultimately, how the chronicle is redefined by specific aesthetic manipulations. 

   Finally, because each of the chroniclers selected for this study engages in translation practices, either as translators of their own work or as translators of other artists' work, this dissertation considers how their representations of urban violence are affected when they "travel" across a variety of media-- that is, not only how the choice of media shapes these artists' representation of urban violence and their manipulation of the chronicle but also how their translation or transference from one medium to another impacts on their original representation of violence.

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