c o n c l u s i o n
a l i c e a . n e l s o n
Marketing Discontent
The Political Economy of Memory in Latin America
n his essay “Memory and Forgetting,” Benedict Anderson suggests that
for institutionalizing historical memory whether text-
books, museums, maps, or even a name always simultaneously carry
with them modes of forgetting. The very call for memory implies that
something considered essential is being forgotten: “Having to ‘have already
forgotten’ tragedies of which one needs unceasingly to be ‘reminded’ turns
out to be a characteristic device in the later construction of national gene-
alogies.”1 Moreover, any representation will include some things and not
others, which then do not figure in the official memory of the nation. Even
more crucial, those very things that are included, once fixed, move toward
a kind of stasis that itself becomes memory’s opposite. The “modern ac-
cumulation of documentary evidence,” Anderson writes, . . . simultane-
ously records a certain apparent continuity and emphasizes its loss from
memory.”2 Nevertheless, he contends, the nation’s “biography” relies on the
establishment of a narrative in which “violent deaths must be remembered/
forgotten as ‘our own.’ ”3
Clearly, which deaths and which people figure in this construction of
what is “our own” are part of an ongoing contest of interests fully en-
meshed in a given society’s structures of power, in terms both of race/class/
gender relations and governmental policy, and of the pervasive influence
of the capitalist marketplace. In the current context of globalization, in
which flows of people, money, ideas, and communications across borders
all confound the status of the nation itself, national memory processes are
bound up in transnational questions of human rights advocacy as well as in
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