Words of the dead: ruins, resistance, and reconstruction in Ayacucho
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Telling Ruins in Latin America
Michael J. Lazzara & Vicky Unruh
The landscape of Ayacucho, Peru is scattered with reminders of violent encounters, including the ruins of pre-Hispanic cultures, monuments to the decisive independence era Battle of Ayacucho, and vestiges of the recent civil war between the Shining Path and government forces. The very designation Ayacucho, which descends from Quechua and means “corner of the dead,” seems emblematic of a haunted terrain (Garcia, 39). Marcial Molina Richter’s La palabra de los muertos o Ayacucho hora nona (1991), a visuo-verbal poetic text that evokes both vanguard formal experimentation and Andean alternatives to Western writing, vividly depicts the devastation wrought by war.1 At the same time, this work resists a discourse of ruin, countering dehumanizing projections of a shattered, terror-beset Ayacucho with empowering portrayals of vibrant and resilient communities. Molina’s semantic and typographic innovations simultaneously create and subvert images of ruin, figuratively reconstructing not only an alternative representation of Ayacucho, but also the voices of ghosts rendered silent by physical and rhetorical violence.
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Indigenous Community, Resilient Community, Crest Line, Reconciliation Commission, Indirect Speech
Arts and Humanities | Social and Behavioral Sciences
Bayers, Leslie, "Words of the dead: ruins, resistance, and reconstruction in Ayacucho" (2009). Academic Affairs Faculty and Staff Books and Book Chapters. 20.