Documentality and Display: Archiving and curating the violent past in contemporary Argentina, Chile and Colombia.

Principal researcher
Prof. Vikki Bell,Goldsmiths College, Reino Unido.  

Oriana Bernasconi, Departamento de Sociología, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile.
Jaime Hernández, Departamento de Arquitectura y Diseño, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia.
Cecilia Sosa, Research Fellow, Universidad Nacional Tres de Febrero, Argentina.

Fund British Academy’s Sustainable Development Programme 2018, supported under the Global Challenges Research Fund, Reino Unido

Financing £292,316
26/09/2018- 18/12/2020



How should those effected by State violence and armed conflict record and collect their experiences to lend them effectively to future justice processes and future use? How are questions of inclusiveness, categorisation and material delimitations dealt with by established and emerging archives and documentation centres? How are these centres being used? This research draws upon the notion of ‘documentality’ in the philosophy of Ferraris (2013; also Bell, 2018), by which the social order is understood to be founded upon the ways in which human lives are inscribed materially and imaginatively, to study key centres of post-conflict documentation in Argentina, Chile and Colombia. It investigates how their modes of recording attempt to lend order to the messiness of violence, and how archival documents are put to work within legal, cultural and aesthetic processes that place them within other forums, e.g. courts, art and community spaces, with their distinct modes of display.

This interdisciplinary research project seeks to address the aims of sustainable governance and of sustainable human development and creativity. Bringing together co-applicants based in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and UK, the project will build upon the knowledge we each bring of documentation processes that have arisen from within civil societies who have experienced conflict and violence. The project seeks to consider how documents of violence are constituted, collected and preserved in archives and documentation centres, the decision-making that takes place at those sites – and its problems – and how these centres are being utilised as ways of creating engagement with the violence of the past in ways that are culturally important. These involve legal processes, that recognise past crimes and establish the rule of law and socio-cultural processes that seek forms of sustainable peace through understanding what present and future societies inherit from the experience of conflict.