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“2 October is not forgotten”: Tlatelolco 1968 massacre and social memory frameworksThe massacre of a student demonstration in La Plaza de las Tres Culturas, in the Tlatelolco district of Mexico City, on 2 October 1968, has been the subject of many debates, studies and literary works, whose aim is to keep the event alive in the collective memory and to tell ‘the truth’ about what happened that night. But is this aim achieved by any Tlatelolco discourse? Probably not. Nor, as I argue, is it necessary. What, then, is the function of the Tlatelolco discourses? Is it a matter of the state and popular discourses being at loggerheads in their respective claims to accuracy and ‘truth’? Or is it something else, led not by the search for truth, but by the need for emotional reconciliation? This essay is an in-depth case study of the narratives of the massacre from the perspective of the theory of posthegemony and Maurice Halbwachs’ studies of social memory frameworks. By focusing in such detail on the way the massacre is represented in the contemporary media, the essay determines how memory builds on narratives that emerge in the response to political violence in the modern media society. The most successful narratives are built on the emotions released immediately when the affect wave ‘crests’, so that those emotions are the strongest and the most relevant to the moment of affect and change of habit.
The Tlatelolco Massacre, Mexico 1968, and the emotional triangle of anger, grief and shame: discourses of truth(s)In the aftermath of major violent events that affect many, we seek to know the ‘truth’ of what happened. Whatever ‘truth’ emerges relies heavily on the extent to which any text about a given event can stir our emotions – whether such texts are official sources or the ‘voice of the people’, we are more inclined to believe them if their words make us feel angry, sad or ashamed. If they fail to stir emotion, however, we will often discount them even when the reported information is the same. Victoria Carpenter analyses texts by the Mexican government, media and populace published after the Tlatelolco massacre of 2 October 1968, demonstrating that there is no strict division between their accounts of what happened and that, in fact, different sides in the conflict used similar and sometimes the same images and language to rouse emotions in the reader.