CFP: [General] "Ghosts of Latin America" ACLA Panel

full name / name of organization: 
Alison Heney
contact email: 

The Ghosts of Latin America â€" (ACLA) Deadline: November 15th 2007

In his in short essay Olympics and Tlatelolco, Octavio Paz addresses the events surrounding the
1968 Olympic Games in Mexico, an event where more than 10,000 students convened for a
demonstration that eventually erupted into a terrible violence and the subsequent death of over
300 participants. “Aggression is synonymous with regression,” Paz writes of the event. “It was an
instinctive repetition that took form of an expiatory ritual. Its resemblances to Mexico’s past,
especially to the Aztec world, are fascinating, frightening, and repellent. The massacre at
Tlatelolco shows us that the past which we thought was buried is still alive and has burst out
among us. Each time it appears in public it is both masked and armed, and we cannot tell what it
is, except that it is vengeance and destruction. It is a past that we have not been able to
recognize, to name, to unmask.”

Like the ghosts in the fictional world of Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo, Isabel Allende’s House of the
Spirits, and Carlos Fuentes’s Aura, the idea of the “Aztec past” in Paz’s writing functions as a
ghost, a “masked and armed” past that breaks into the reality of Mexico’s world and is
experienced as the violent encounter between the past and the present, presence and absence,
and the sacred and profane. As a figure constituted by the crossing of oppositions and
ultimately, ambiguities that characterize myth and the incursion of the symbolic by the semiotic,
the figure of the ghost in Latin American literature is a figure that represents the eternal return
of a past that refuses to die.

This panel invites a consideration of the figure of the ghost in Latin American literature and an
attendance to the function of fantasy in its relationship to the crisis of historical identity. What
reality continually asserts itself in the slips, silences, fragmentations and the dreams of Latin
America? In what ways does the figure of the ghost function as a representation of the danger
and violence that continually stalks the contemporary imagination? Does the figure of the ghost
act as a unifying symbol in the construction of a historical identity? Or reveal the possibility (and
failure) for revolution in art?

Please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words to Alison Heney at by November 15th 2007.

ACLA - The American Comparative Literature Association’s 2008 Annual Meeting will take place
in Long Beach, California, on April 24-27, 2007 (Thursday evening through Sunday noon). If your
paper is accepted you will need to register through the ACLA website.

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Received on Wed Nov 07 2007 - 16:12:38 EST