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Vielstimmige Vergangenheiten - Geschichtspolitik in Lateinamerika

By Berthold Molden and David Mayer (Eds.)
Vienna, 2008, 296 pp, ISBN 978-3-8258-1445-8

A new book by the Vienna-based Lateinamerika Institut entitled "Vielstimmige Vergangenheiten - Geschichtspolitik in Lateinamerika" deals with the politics of history in the Latin American subcontinent.

History is not simply something that has happened. It is the subject of heated political debates and Latin America stands as an excellent example of such conflicts. What we are dealing with here is the memory of traumatic and polarising societal experiences that are recent, but that can also go further back into the past. The book gives an overview of the important protagonists and subjects that are essential for understanding the entanglement of history and politics in Latin America.

The first part of the book deals with fundamental questions like What is "Geschichtspolitik" ("the politics of history") and what is its meaning? Is Latin America a homogeneous region? What are the crucial historical backgrounds for today's disputes? The second part is devoted to the actors of "Geschichtspolitik", their backgrounds and political practices: the "Left", the "Right", indigenous movements, refugees and artists. Finally, the third part dedicates itself to the study of specific countries like Argentina, Chile or Venezuela.

The authors in this book bear in mind the specificity of the region in question and avoid its treatment as a European projection surface or periphery that can at best react to inputs coming from the outside. Instead of this Eurocentric approach, they deal with Latin America as a highly complex continent that gave birth to very interesting and original practices in the politics of history.