SURCLA (Sydney University Research Community for Latin America) seminar | A deluge in the desert: disaster and neoliberalism in recent Chilean testimonial writing
A deluge in the desert: disaster and neoliberalism in recent Chilean testimonial writing
Gustavo Carvajal (University Finis Terrae, Chile)
Tuesday 9 May 2023, 5-6:30pm AEST (Sydney time)
In-person: SLC Common Room 536, Brennan MacCallum Building A18, University of Sydney
Online: Join via Zoom (ID: 89672437248)
The Atacama Desert is one of the most arid areas of the world. According to the available historical record, it has been recurrently affected by extreme flood events in the last 400 years. These events are generally related to intense rainfall that normally occurs during the winter months or to snowmelt in the summer season. The last significant event, known as 25M, occurred on 24th – 26th March 2015, when more than 80 mm fell in the area causing flash floods in 17 catchments of the Atacama Region. Renacer entre el lodo (Hilda Olivares 2015) unearths the tragic story of Chañaral, a city heavily impacted during this meteorological emergency and the only one in Chile that for nearly 60 years suffered catastrophic effects of the disposal of more than 350 million tonnes of copper tailings in the city’s Salado River and its bay. Olivares’s testimonio, then, connects these two events to denounce the lasting consequences on the population of primary commodity production (run by the American company Andes Copper and the state-owned Codelco-Chile), neoliberalism and the flood event of 2015. My presentation will focus on the documentary aspects of Olivares’s testimonio that make the reader aware of the long-lasting ecological disaster facing Chañaral (a small coastal town 167 kms north of the region’s capital Copiapó and 789 kms north of Chile’s capital), which was accentuated by the flooding on March 2015. In this sense, Renacer en el lodo offers a unique opportunity to deploy a “ruin-reading” practice, excavating from the muddy rubble of different temporalities.
About the speaker
Gustavo Carvajal is Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies and Literature at University Finis Terrae (Chile). He is the author of Women, Memory and Dictatorship in Recent Chilean Fiction (University of Wales Press, 2021) and the co-editor of Chile desde los Estudios Culturales: Miradas Actuales sobre Poesía, Narrativa y Cultura Visual (Ediciones Universidad Finis Terrae, 2019). He is currently the Principal Investigator for an ANID-funded project entitled ‘Residencia en la tierra: Disaster Writing in Contemporary Chilean Fiction’.
For more information and RSVP for in-person attendance:
Dr Vek Lewis (firstname.lastname@example.org)