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Carlos Gardeazábal Bravo Awarded Dissertation Fellowship

BY Johanna Debari


Carlos Gardeazábal Bravo, Ph.D candidate (ABD) in Spanish Studies, was recently awarded the Human Rights Dissertation Writing Fellowship for the Summer of 2016. Read more about his project below:

Carlos Diss Fellowship 2016“My dissertation, entitled “Human Rights and the Politics of Empathy in 21st Century Latin American Literature,” analyzes the political and ideological constructions behind novels that bring about empathic bonds between readers and the objects of narrative. My purpose is to provide a historicized standpoint for the study of empathy in human rights literature, while proposing a reflective stance in that perspective-taking process. I center my analysis on a corpus of four post-Cold War novels written in Guatemala and Colombia, and released by transnational publishing houses in the last fifteen years: Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Insensatez (Senselessness, 2004), Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s El material humano (Human Material, 2009), Evelio Rosero’s Los ejércitos (The Armies, 2007), and Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s El ruido de las cosas al caer (The Sound of Things Falling, 2011). These narratives inspire compelling questions: Who among the people involved in these internal conflicts is worthy of our empathy? How does literature help to provide a more complex conception of victims, perpetrators and their healing processes in both countries? I argue that these novels provide new configurations of empathy in Latin America that disrupt the construction of emotions and their political representations in official discourse. I seek to explain how these political configurations of empathy are confronted with the violent histories of both countries: in Guatemala, with the aftermath of the civil war (1960-1996) and the Mayan genocide (1981-1983), in which nearly 200.000 people were killed; in Colombia, with a society ad portas of a post-conflict era, haunted by the death of 180.000 civilians and nearly six million displaced persons throughout the longest internal conflict of the hemisphere (1960-2016). Is in this context where I want to explore how “the other”–as a subject or agent of reflective empathy– is portrayed in the corpus, beyond binary depictions of victims and perpetrators.”