It is thirteen years since the African Theatreseries published its previous volume discussing the role of women in the performance cultures of the continent, where it became, and remained, the best selling volume in the series. There is an undoubted hunger amongst scholars, not only of theatre, but more widely of African culture and of African women's studies, to know more about women's contributions to the dramatic arts, and it is a hunger which the editors think remains to be satisfied. We therefore decided to produce a volume looking specifically at women working in the twentyfirst century, soliciting articles from as wide a range of perspectives – and countries – as we could find.
Women's contributions remain obscured in many discussions of African theatre. While thousands of women work in the industry, and some, for example Penina Mlama and Amandina Lihamba in Tanzania, and Zulu Sofola and Tess Onwueme of Nigeria, have won national fame, relatively few have achieved an international profile. This is partly because in many places theatre is performed in local languages, uses local theatrical idioms, and speaks to local concerns, so that someone like Elizabeth Melaku (discussed below in our article on Ethiopian actresses) who is a huge national star of stage and screen in Ethiopia, is utterly unknown to the non-Amharic speaking world. However, the issue of localism is not, of course, gender specific. So the question remains: why, while at least a small number of African men have become regular subjects of scholarship, is it still extremely hard to find out about the work of contemporary African women theatre artists?
On reading the articles in this volume it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that sexist inequalities, in a range of forms, have much to do with the matter. Actress, director and playwright Dalia Basiouny discusses the huge problems she experienced from a jealous, obstructive husband in developing her career; the essential context of the intergenerational women's theatre discussed by Kiguli and Plastow was that the Ugandan government and Buganda society at domestic and state levels discriminate against women's rights; and Sefi Atta's play, The Sentence, explicitly discusses the predicament of an underprivileged northern Nigerian woman faced with the ‘justice’ of an extreme interpretation of shari'a law.
The after-image is primarily produced by memory and the imagination. It is the emotional or psychological recall/re-imagining of something that is not immediately present to the senses. Both 19-Born-76-Rebels(2013) and Isingqala(2011) evoke after-images in considering South Africa's past alongside its present. This chapter examines what vestiges of the past remain in Nyamza's present lived experience, and specifically, in what images does the ‘after’ manifest itself in Nyamza's work. 19-Born-76-Rebelsrecalls the Soweto Riots and massacre of 1976, focusing on the education black children received in that era. Nyamza uses after-images of her own black girlhood to explore the persisting damage of an inadequate education.
19-Born-76-Rebelsdoes not rely on set properties or a conventional performance space. The performance primarily uses physical theatre, with very few word-based moments, to drive the plot. The focus is on the actor's ornate and telling costumes and their physicality and interaction with each other in the space. In performance, each scene is designated a separate playing space; first there is the introduction of two polarizing figures standing (on makeshift stilts) opposite one another centre stage. Their ten minute standoff includes only slight movements as they simultaneously look down, signalling the distance to the ground. Neither figure wants to make the first move; one lifts her arms as if to take a step, but then does not. This play is mirrored and repeated between them. The performers then disrobe and transition into young girls in the next scene, upstage on a stairway, at first cheerful as they run and play. The German shepherd dogs, visible from the margins, form part of the action, reminding the girls and audience mnemonically about colonial power, signalled through these guard animals. The mood quickly turns sober as the girls are intimidated in the next scene, which takes place downstage centre, and in the following scenes. This sets the tone for the rest of the performance, which is dominated by a huge book (the only set property) in a make-believe schoolroom. The physical interaction with the book in the imagined schoolroom highlights how these girls experienced school as an ordeal, a burden, and evokes the inequality of their education which leaves them exhausted, sweating and breathless as they eventually walk off stage slowly, carrying the book.
When I was growing up in Egypt I knew of no women stage directors and when I later researched the topic, I found that the first Egyptian woman to direct for the stage was the actress Fatma Roushdy in 1930, who directed seven plays in addition to performing numerous acting roles. The directorial efforts of women in the theatre were sporadic throughout most of the twentieth century, and women directors did not carve out a solid place for themselves until the 1990s (Basiouny, 2013).
I started making theatre in 1988, during my undergraduate studies in the English Department at Cairo University, in the year that the Cairo International Experimental Festival began. This festival came to rescue a stale theatre scene, which was then caught between the calcified state-run theatres living on the glories of 1960s experimentation in form and content, the bawdy commercial theatre mixing cheap laughter with tantalizing dancing, and the unoriginal, uninspired ‘Popular Cultural Authority’ performances.
At that time college theatres were thriving in Cairo University and I tried my hand at many aspects of theatre making. I hung lights, operated primitive sound and light boards, performed small roles, bought and made props, helped to build and paint sets, created pamphlets and hung flyers. After graduation, a number of my colleagues and I formed a small theatre company and I was an assistant director on a number of plays.
I never formally studied directing. I taught myself through watching and reading. I read any book I could lay my hands on about theatre making or directing, while also attending any rehearsals and performances I could find in Cairo. I saw works by various directors. All these directors were men, and most of them screamed violently at their actors and assistants. This was not how I wanted to create theatre. I also watched a lot of ‘bad theatre’ and ‘deadly theatre’. I was teaching myself how to do theatre by learning what notto do!
The Gulf War led to the cancellation of the Experimental Festival in 1991. Many young Egyptian artists soon realized that they did not need an International Festival to perform their work; instead they founded the Free Theatre Festival.
Stephanie Newell & Onookome Okome (eds),
Popular Culture in Africa: The episteme of the everyday
New York & London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis, 2014
ISBN 9280415532921 (hbk) $140
Any book about popular culture in Africa is likely to find some orientation from Karin Barber's seminal essays: ‘Popular Arts in Africa’ (1987) and ‘Views from the Field’ (1997). The editors of Popular Culture in Africahave done more than touch base with these two important essays, they have persuaded her to write a densely argued seven page Foreword in which she revisits and sometimes corrects her earlier ideas. The editors’ Introduction reflects their allegiance to Barber's founding concepts, and almost every one of the fifteen articles in the book cites Barber, usually in reverential mode. The book is a Festschrift in all but name.
Barber's ‘scholarly architecture’, as Newell and Okome describe her work, derives to some extent from Raymond Williams's categorization of British culture into residual, dominant and emergent culture, which in Barber's 1987 essay becomes transmuted into ‘traditional, elite and popular’, although by 2014 she regrets this simplification, preferring to rely on more complex, overlapping categories.
Much of the book is devoted to arguments about the tendency for commentators to apply binary terminology, such as traditional/modern, oral/literate and local/global. The various authors, anxious to deconstruct false antinomies, emphasize simultaneous inclusion and exclusion. Barber herself gives the example of Tanzanian Hip Hop, in which ‘gangsta’ costumes seem to exclude the genre from mainstream society, while the lyrics, for the most part, promote healthy lifestyles.
After the editors’ Introduction Popular Culture in Africais divided into four parts: I Theoretical Overviews; II Gender and Sexuality; III The Place of Humor; and IV Popular Discourses of the Streets.
The editors’ overview is a very useful update of some arguments which emerged from Barber's earlier essays. Newell and Okome try to map the class and ethnic variables which are able to describe the literate, but to a large extent subaltern, groups who are most responsible for the creation of popular arts. These include ‘sub-elites, emergent elites, local intellectuals, urban intellectuals, cultural brokers and local cosmopolitans’. The last term has given rise to a common colloquial construct: ‘Afropolitan’.
In October 2011 the Theater Krefeld/Mönchengladbach, Germany, staged the overall world premiere of Sefi Atta's play The Sentencein a German translation. Drawing on judicial sentences of death by stoning in northern Nigeria in the early 2000s, The Sentencerecounts the story of a Muslim woman unjustly sentenced to death for adultery. As the play progresses the protagonist not only becomes a symbol of injustice in the Nigerian and international media. It also transpires that she has been interpellated, and actively participates in a system based on gender inequality and religious bigotry. Atta adapted the play from a short story, ‘Hailstones on Zamfara’, which was initially conceived as a monologue and later published in her collection of short stories, Lawless and Other Stories(2008) (US/UK edition: News from Home(2010)). In 2011 Salzburg-based Nigerian director Nicholas Monu directed the play at Krefeld/Mönchengladbach as part of their ‘non- European theatre’ programme. The series had been initiated by the director of drama, Matthias Gehrt, in 2010 to stage productions other than the common staples of German municipal theatres (Stadttheater) – Northern classics, comedy and increasingly musicals – by introducing one new non- European drama per season (Matzke 2013). Each play was to be translated into German and performed by the Krefeld/Mönchengladbach company, but directed by someone closer to its dramatic context: hence the choice of Monu to direct Atta. Monu was familiar with Atta's work and had already directed another of her plays, The Cost of Living, at Terra Kulture in Lagos earlier that year.
Atta herself is a US-based Nigerian, best known as a novelist and writer of short stories. She is the author of Everything Good Will Come(2005) for which she received the first Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa in 2006, Swallow(2010) and her more recent A Bit of a Difference(2013). Little is known of her dramatic work for radio, stage and screen, even though, according to a recent interview, she prefers writing plays to any other genre (Geosi Reads 2013). To date, Atta has five stage plays to her credit, none of them published, but all of them produced (http://www.sefiatta.com/plays.html).
… insurgencies are passageways between worlds and therefore ways of enacting the promise of something other to come. They show us political performatives at work – activities through which one already lives what one is fighting for – and the fleeting nature of politics and the people, both of which are seen as events rather than as representations.(Arditi, 2012:2)
This article examines the relationships between embodied performance events such as Walk: South Africaand online social media campaigns such as One Billion Rising and Bring Back Our Girls. We argue that it is important to see these forms as instances of political performatives (Arditi 2012) in order to understand ways in which they can produce a sustainable relationship/encounter to address the issues of gender-based violence and rape culture; but that also more is needed, namely the engagement of these issues in embodied (Steiger 2007) performances, which are articulated as the labour of again(Hamera 2013).
Through a comparative reading of two examples, one of global activist campaigns, the other of a performance informed by global activism, the paper begins with a reading of one instance of a campaign against gender-based violence, and interrogates the use of feminist activism and performance to promote change for women in the world. This is followed by an exploration of Walk: South Africa,a performance event which was produced in response to the brutality of gender-based violence and rape culture in India and South Africa in 2012 and 2013. This analysis explores the ways in which performance may transform the discreet moment of activism into more sustained/sustainable mediations to promote change for women in the world. The paper argues the need to find ways of embodying the relationships between potentially disembodied online activism and discreet performance encounters, in order for both performance and activist approaches to continue/sustain strategies for campaigning against gender-based violence.
Arditi (2012) reflects on the political insurgencies of 2011 by focusing on the ways in which they moved beyond standard political practices or policy-making exercises. For him, insurgencies such as the Arab Spring and the student revolt in Chile are about refusing to continue as before, and about opening up possibilities that may or may not prosper.
Jalila Baccar is today generally recognized as one of the leading women playwrights and performers in Tunisia and the Arab world, and the work of her company Familia, co-directed by Baccar and her husband Fadhel Jaïbi, has attained a major international reputation.
Baccar was born in the old city of Tunis in 1952, just four years before that country gained its independence from France. She became increasingly involved in theatre during her school years. Theatre at that time was undergoing major growth in Tunisia, thanks to the support of the new President, Bourguiba, and the efforts of Ali Ben Ayad. Ayad was a Tunisian who had studied in Paris under Jean Vilar and was encouraged by Bourguiba to develop national interest in this art, which included encouraging drama in schools and establishing regional theatre centres throughout the country, following the French model of decentralization.
When Baccar graduated, she left Tunis for the first time in her life to join one of these new regional theatres, at Gafsa, the capital of the southwest of Tunisia, an historical oasis and mining centre. There she met Fadhel Jaïbi, then co-director of the company, whom she later married. They tried for several years to create a more modern and engaged theatre there, but were resisted by both the authorities and the more conservative members of their own company. Finally in 1976 they moved to Tunis, and established Almasrah al-jadid: The New Theatre.
This was the first independent professional company in Tunisia and was deeply influenced by the French and German Independent Theatre movement of the twentieth century. Most of the plays presented were either by politically engaged European dramatists such as Brecht or new Tunisian works that reworked contemporary Tunisian history, filling gaps that the prevailing ideology or official discourse had created.
In 1993 Baccar and Jaïbi formed a new group, Familia, named after its first production, a Tunisian folk comedy about three sisters. Subsequent productions moved in a darker and more symbolic direction, as exemplified by In Search of Aida(1998) which is a symbolist quest play with a distinctly political nature, insofar as it explores the question of Arab identity.
Jalila Baccar of Tunisia once characterized herself as a ‘citizen actress’ (Carlson). That term could be equally extended to all the women featured in this volume of African Theatre, for whether working as a member of a women's troupe, a solo performer, director or playwright, these women practise art as a means of imagining a world of greater possibilities for themselves and their communities. Editors Yvette Hutchison, Christine Matzke and Jane Plastow are to be commended for presenting a wide survey of work that might otherwise have gone unnoticed because, to varying degrees, these citizen artists are focused on speaking about women's concerns first and foremost to their local communities, and are typically not included in high profile festival venues (such as Grahamstown or Edinburgh) where they might gain international press coverage and scholarly recognition. Readers will encounter: accounts of women's performance troupes in Uganda and Tanzania; a description of a mixed-gender, multi-media physical theatre production in Botswana; histories of female performers and directors in Ethiopia, Tunisia, Egypt and Rwanda; reflection on the relationship between online activism and a Cape Town performance event that drew inspiration from India; and a play about the imposition of shari'a law in northern Nigeria.
Experiences of gender-based violence, discrimination and disregard for women's lives and knowledge resonate across national and linguistic borders. Indeed, as is evident in Sara Matchett and Nicola Cloete's article on online activism, inspired in part by Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologuesand a horrific rape and murder in India in 2012, knowledge of these experiences circulates globally. I want to suggest two large categories or umbrellas under which readers might consider the ten essays gathered here: accounts of performance-making targeted at local audiences in particular, and those that also engage large national issues but deploy an aesthetic vocabulary and linguistic register which render them more accessible to outsiders.
Susan Kiguli and Jane Plastow's report on a Ugandan intergenerational women's theatre is an example of a project targeted at local audiences. Participants capitalized on traditional skills of poetry-song creation to fashion narratives that would compellingly link women's personal and collective experiences.
Rwandan artist Odile Gakire Katese was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and ‘returned’ to Rwanda in 1996. There she studied at the National University of Rwanda and worked as an actress with Koulsy Lamko, a Chadian writer and director. She went to France and trained in theatre with Jacques Lecoq and at Le Samovar, then came back to Rwanda in 2003 where she worked as assistant artistic director at the University Centre of Arts and Drama (UCAD) until 2011, under the direction of Aimable Twahirwa, and then of Jean-Marie Kayishema. In 2012 she created her company, Rwanda Professional Dreamers, with whom she works in the performing arts, particularly in music, theatre and writing. Her current project, Mumataha, involves the creation of two music albums and a theatre piece based on letters from a former project, The Book of Life, in which survivors and perpetrators wrote to people whom they lost or killed during the genocide.
Her artistic work was her point of entry into Rwandan culture, which she had to learn when she arrived from the DRC. Looking back at her trajectory and evolution over the past ten years, it becomes apparent how her position as an artist, who was also a returnee and a woman, has led her to approach Rwandan culture and arts with critical care and curiosity. This has resulted in a corpus of artistic work that speaks to the realities of contemporary Rwanda. Her body of work from 2003 until today2 includes three plays: Iryo Nabonye(What I Saw(2004) as co-writer/co-director), Des Espoirs(Hopes(2005) as writer), and Ngwino Ubeho(Come and Be Alive(2009) as writer/director). It also includes the writing workshops of The Book of Life(2009, as facilitator); the albums and concerts of Mumataha(2012, 2014, as producer); and the drumming troupe Ingoma Nshya which she created in 2004 and has promoted ever since. As the assistant director of UCAD she organized a series of international workshops, called ‘Arts Azimuts’, in theatre, music and dance from 2003 to 2007. In 2008 she turned the annual workshops into the first international festival of performing arts in Rwanda.
The Sentenceis adapted from ‘Hailstones on Zamfara,’ which was initially written as a monologue and later published as a short story. The Sentencepresents the story in its original form, a play about religious hypocrisy and fundamentalism, in which an unnamed Moslem woman recounts how she was wrongfully sentenced to death for adultery.
It is possible to have only three actors in this play. The roles of Husband and Imaginary Man, Junior Wife and Miriam Maliki can be doubled up.
A prison cell
A Woman sits on a stool by a bucket. She is dressed in black traditional Moslem wear. She carries white prayer beads. By her feet are mangoes.
Woman On the day I die I will arise, and my executioners will finally be forced to admit, ‘We were wrong. We should have revered you more’. I am not guilty. I have always preferred men as I make them up in my head; imaginary men. Not the kind some women want, those silly fantasy men in romance books. My men are plain – ugly, even – with facial marks, oily skins, dust in their hair. They ride motorcycles, take buses and taxis to their places of work. They walk mostly. They never own cars, otherwise they would have to be rich men, the kind who become senators, chairmen of banks and such. No, my men have spread-out feet from being barefoot as children. They have palms as brown as tobacco leaves. Some have had a hand cut off because they stole to eat. Still, they pray as good Moslems should, five times a day. Enter Husband.
Woman Did my husband think I was pretending the day I stopped hearing him? Had he forgotten he caused the very condition that made him so angry? I tried to help him understand.
‘You call me, I can't hear. You insult me, I can't hear. You tell me to get out of your house. How can I leave when I can't hear?’
Husband You witch! I know you're doing this on purpose!
Woman It is not my fault. My left ear is damaged from the beating you gave me. Sometimes I hear, sometimes I don't, even if I face Mecca.
Ethiopia is an interesting place to look at the changing lives of actresses in Africa, both because it has the longest and strongest tradition of state supported theatre houses anywhere on the continent, and because it has moved from a time when, prior to 1951, all parts were played by men, to a present when leading actresses can be nationally recognized ‘stars’.
The first modern play, written like nearly all Ethiopian theatre in Amharic, dates back to 1921, and was performed by a cast of schoolboys. Play writing subsequently became a fashion among the aristocrats of the court of the last Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie, in the 1930s, and the first professional theatre, the Hager Fikir, was established in the 1940s, followed shortly afterwards by the City Hall Theatre, and in 1955 by the 1,400-seat Haile Selassie 1 Theatre (now the National Theatre with a staff of over 200). Ever since that time theatre-going has been a part of life in the capital Addis Ababa, which currently has five major theatres (though only two were operating fully at the time of writing) with productions also mounted by private companies in a number of halls, and tours regularly undertaken to major cities around the country. At times theatre has played a major political role in agitating for change, and since 1974 the companies in the state theatres have been government employees on recognized salary scales and with full pension rights. A number of attempts to create theatre training schemes have been made since the 1960s, but nowadays most actors, playwrights and directors are graduates of the Theatre Arts Department of Addis Ababa University, which began offering degree courses in 1978.
Ethiopian plays are put on in repertory. A play is normally performed once a week and a run may last for up to three years. Theatre houses put on a number of plays simultaneously, with the largest number being performed at the National Theatre where shows take place every day except Monday, with two performances on Saturdays and Sundays. Ticket prices are regulated, and recently there has been a battle between theatre professionals and the government which wanted to hold prices down to 15 birr (approximately US$ 0.60).
Looking at the story of independence of Tanzania, as elsewhere in Africa, performing arts, especially traditional dance groups led by women, were used extensively in the mid-twentieth century to deconstruct and openly challenge what Ruth Meena (2003: 148) describes as ‘the colonial and patriarchal systems, which were based on ideologies of exclusion’. These dance groups, such as lelemama, were significant during both the independence struggle and the post-independence deconstruction of stereotypes that perceive political power to be vested almost exclusively in men. Marjorie Mbilinyi (2010: 85) shows clearly that: ‘It was TANU women who forged alliances across ethnic and religious boundaries, who promoted Kiswahili as the medium of political discourse, who used local African cultural forms such as women's songs and dance groups to energise the nationalist struggle and make it their own’.
After independence, the ‘energising political struggle’ was transformed into women becoming the ‘implementation tools’ of the ruling party, TANU, later CCM. This meant that performing arts, especially ngoma(traditional dances), featured prominently on national platforms when political leaders wanted to communicate social policies and political propaganda to the people. At community level such performances continued to entertain, educate, conscientize and communicate. Mbilinyi (ibid.: 84) further argues that: ‘What is not understood is the degree to which this nationalist identity was constructed through the actions and thoughts of grassroot women politicians and activists, women who merged their struggles for individual dignity with that of a collective struggle for national autonomy and dignity as an African people’.
It is important to recognize these struggles by women on behalf of their sex, and for the nation, in order to situate and understand the role that Binti Leo (Today's Young Women) intends to play in contemporary Tanzania.
TANU women such as Bibi Titi Mohamed,4 who participated in the political independence struggles through lelemamagroups, had ‘political’ freedom and independence as their agenda (Geiger 2005: iv, 49). This was different from the women's movement in post-independence Tanzania prior to multi-party politics where most women had no space to advocate for their rights apart from supporting Ujamaa.
This project arose from a serendipitous series of encounters at the Workshop Theatre of the University of Leeds in England where, between 2000 and 2010, Alison Lloyd-Williams, Evelyn Lutwama-Rukundo and Susan Kiguli all studied for postgraduate degrees with me. Both Evelyn and Susan wrote PhD theses during this time about aspects of Buganda culture in Uganda.1 During the process of supervision I became interested in issues in Buganda society concerning theatre and the situation of women in Buganda society, which is particularly strongly patriarchal. However, since the National Resistance Government took power in 1986 and encouraged a grassroots programme of women's participation in social and political issues, a number of women, operating both alone as oral poets and within a growing matrix of nationwide amateur theatre groups, have been producing performances concerning women's issues. I was also interested to learn that the strongly hierarchical nature of Buganda society made it difficult for women to speak freely across age and educational barriers, even amongst themselves. Finally, there has been an ongoing battle since 1964, in one form or another, to enact legislation in the form of a Marriage and Divorce Bill which would grant women improved rights in relation to marriage.
I had previously run a short workshop at Makerere University on Theatre for Development; Alison had worked in Ugandan schools, Evelyn had researched and practised with rural women's theatre groups and Susan taught literature at Makerere. Susan and I are practitioners as well as academics. I developed the idea that we could collaborate on a piece of work which would be innovative (I knew of no other intergenerational women's theatre project in Africa); would model collaboration with equal weight given to all participants’ views; and would be a genuine experiment to see whether performance was a good way to find out about women's perspectives on their lives and a situation in which they could be encouraged to exchange views across the barriers of class, age and education. Together we developed our project proposal, conducted the work, and Susan and I have written this article.
In Botswana today, the biggest challenge facing gender equality and women's empowerment is a patriarchal structure which mediates both our private and public spaces and promotes a hierarchy that vests power with the few, at the expense of the many: particularly of women. Patriarchal power is exercised and maintained through the silencing of divergent voices.
Theatre is a space where verbal language can be challenged by other embodied forms, which enable the exploration of the body and its relation to space. Theatre can provide a safe space, insofar as it is outside of everyday lived reality, and can suggest strategies for people to change their social situations. It can also create space for different voices to speak. Through the process of re-presenting our systems of power we can begin to address issues affecting women's rights and gender equality. Re-presenting means not only presenting in a new way, but also looking at ourselves and our problems differently, leading to empowered thoughts. It is only through empowered thinking that empowered actions can even begin to be imagined.
Un/Skin Mebegan as an attempt to locate ‘myself’ as a black woman in the theatre. Contemporary representations of black women in southern Africa generally have been and remain disempowering, with women often being portrayed as maids and victims, particularly of poverty. These representations are often reinforced by media representations of women which often fail either to give them any voice, or to voice their own life experiences. Instead, international and local media often present an homogeneous black female, who remains an exoticized, sexualized and/ or impoverished entity, often spoken for or about but never speaking for herself. Black womanhood has come to be associated with sex and struggle. This homogenous black female stereotype is the result of patriarchal cultures that continue to objectify and silence women. Un/Skin Meseeks to address these issues by interrogating the use of space, language and the body in the process of re-presentation. I refer to this process as ‘re-presenting’ to signify a move away from existing representations of women which perpetuate negative stereotypes, instead presenting them in a new way.
This book opened with the story of a house. So too does it end. This story comes in different acts, which enfold one another.
Act 1: A house under arrest
In Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, Jacques Derrida argues that the first figure of an archive is topological. It is the violence of a power, a lineage, a place, a domicile: ‘It is thus, in this domiciliation, in this house arrest, that archives take place.’ In the aftermath of Argentina's dictatorship, the relatives of the victims have commanded the house of mourning. To some extent, they have kept this house under arrest. They have been the ones who had the force to command the legitimacy of remembering. As such, they have been the guardians of the processes of mourning. This right has been animated by the power of blood. This book, however, has sought to show how the domiciliation of this archive has been displaced. In this sense, it has encompassed a movement of transference of the experience of loss, one that goes from the relatives to the broader Argentine society. Non-biological feelings of kinship have re-occupied the house.
In order to illustrate this process of re-occupation, this book has delineated a non-normative archive. It is an archive of unconventional acts of mourning. It does not rely exclusively on blood but on bonds that have been forged through acts of coming up against violence.
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