Dwellers of Memory

Dwellers of Memory

Youth and Violence in Medellin, Colombia

Memory and Narrative

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ISBN: 978-0-7658-0314-6
Pages: 252
Binding: Hardcover
Publication Date: 03-30-2006
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Dwellers of Memory is an ethnographic study of how urban youth in Colombia came to be at the intersection of multiple forms of political, drug-related, and territorial violence in a country undergoing forty years of internal armed conflict. It examines the ways in which youth in the city of Medellin reconfigure their lives and, cultural worlds in the face of widespread violence. This violence has transgressed familiar boundaries and destroyed basic social supports and networks of trust. This volume attempts to map and understand its patterns and flows.

The author explores how Medellin's youth locate themselves and make, sense of violence through contradictory and shifting memory practices. The violence has not completely taken over their cultural worlds or their subjectivities. Practices of remembering and forgetting are key methods by which these youth rework their identities and make sense of the impact of violence on their lives. While the experience of violence is rooted in urban space and urban youth, the memory dwellers use a sense of place, oral histories of death, and narratives of fear as survival strategies for inhabiting violent neighborhoods. The book also examines fissures in memory, the contradictory constructions of young people's subjective selves, and practices of gendered violence and terror. All have and continue to pose risks to the historical memory and cultural survival of the residents of Medellin.

Dwellers of Memory offers an alternative ethnographic approach to the study of memory and violence, one that calls into question whether the, role of the ethnographer of violence is to be a mere witness of terror, or to oppose it by writing against it. It will be of interest to sociologists, anthropologists, and students of, ethnography.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps and Images 
Colombia at the Crossroads 
Youth’s Forgettings and the Politics of Memory 
Bridges of Memory 
The Circulation of Memories and the Traffic of Violence
An Anthropology of Remembering and Forgetting 
Dwellers of Memory: The Youth in this Book 

Chapter 1
Local Histories in a National Light 
Clouds of Smoke: The Thirties 
A War of Colors and Horrors: The Fifties 
Red Lights in the Barrio: The “Tolerant” Years 
Languages of Concealment: The Sixties 
Travels and Travellers: The Seventies 
A Troubling Image of Youth: The 1980s and 1990s 
Busy Streets
Local Wars 
Pigs for Peace 
“Por qué, a pesar de tanta mierda, este barrio es poder?”

Chapter 2
Remembering Place: Making and Sensing Places 
Place-Making: Memory Landscapes and Landmarks 
A Walkabout 
The Memory of Things Seen 
Changing Names, Changing Dynamics 
Typologies of Social Space and Spatial Practices
Home Far Away From Home 
Imagining and Border Crossing 
Communities of Memory in Place 

Chapter 3
The Living Memories of Death: Oral Histories of Death and the Dead
I see his blood that falls like seed: Narratives of the Dead
“How do you speak to the disappeared?” 
Chronologies of Death and Dead-Listings 
Events and Their Meaning: Giving Death a Place 
An Embodied Place for Death 
Subjects of Death: Martyrs 

Chapter 4
Ghosts, Possessed Bodies and Warriors: Narratives of Fear and Gendered Violence 
Ghostly Stories and Social Regulations 
“This happened to me, I have lived this”: Witnesses and Possessed Spirits
Warrior Bodies, Women and Terror 
Fissures in the Social Fabric and Social Tensions 

Chapter 5
A Generational Forgetting? 
Territorial Otherness 
Paths of Distrust and Vengeance 
Witnessing, Suffering and Memory