Added: January 7, 2017 – Last updated: January 7, 2017


Author: Lisa Renee DiGiovanni

Title: Modes of Silence and Resistance

Subtitle: Chilean Documentary and Gendered Torture

In: Screening the Tortured Body: The Cinema as Scaffold

Edited by: Mark de Valk

Place: London

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Year: 2016

Pages: 177-206

ISBN-13: 9781137399175 (print) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781137399182 (online) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | American History: Chilean History | Representations: Films / Calle Santa Fe, El caso Pinochet, La flaca Alejandra; Types: Sexual Torture



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Author: Lisa Renee DiGiovanni, Department of Modern Languages, Keene State

Abstract: »Since the collapse of the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973–1989), documentary film has become an important vehicle for the denouncement of the regime’s destruction of Chile’s democratic institutions, its sweeping reversal of reforms initiated by the Popular Unity (1970–1973), and its systematic persecution of opposing voices. Among the visual memory archives that bear witness to the horrors of detention, a small number shed light on the gendered dimensions of subjugation of female prisoners. The common thread that unites women’s testimonies is a criticism of the regime’s practices of repression, but whereas some narrations voice detailed recollections of sexualised assault, others focus instead on memories of solidarity in the context of confinement. For some critics, silence on sexualised torture reveals the survivor’s need to erase the traces of trauma, and for others such voids bespeak the humiliation surrounding rape. I agree that these omissions are related to the survivor’s limited or unwanted access to recall, but I also believe that the act of withholding can be read as a form of resistance. By comparing Patricio Guzmán’s El caso Pinochet (2001) with Carmen Castillo’s La flaca Alejandra (1994) and Calle Santa Fe (2008), I contend that the non-fiction genre effectively stages the dilemma that women survivors face as they attempt to structure a public testimony of sexualised torture to address the question of redress on one hand, and to rebuild a collective political identity based on a narrative of resistance on the other. Rape testimony could potentially coexist with an account of political activism, however these documentaries show the challenges of combining them given the stigmatisation of rape that debases victims. Circumventing stories of feminised violence and emphasising instead memories of empowerment therefore becomes an act of agency and narrative control, even if this move fails to deconstruct rape as a source of shame.« (Source: SpringerLink)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of Chile / Military dictatorship of Chile (1973–90) | Film: Cinema of Chile | Torture