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HRI Lunchtime Seminar, Carlos Gardeazabal Bravo

Tuesday, December 5, 2017
12:30pm – 2:00pm

Storrs Campus
Dodd 162

Human Rights Institute Lunchtime Seminar with Carlos Gardeazabal Bravo, Ph.D. candidate in Hispanic studies at the University of Connecticut

"Failed Empathy in Human Rights Narratives: The Case of Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Insensatez"

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 12:30 - 2:00 p.m. Room 162, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Storrs Campus

**Lunch will be provided

In his novel Insensatez (2004) Horacio Castellanos Moya offers a reflection on the connections between literature and human rights reports, as well as the violence, fear and impunity that Guatemala has lived since the end of the conflict. One of the central themes of the novel is the possibility of establishing empathic identifications with the victims of the Guatemalan civil war. In dialogue with the critics of the novel, I study the changes in the attitude of the narrator that lead to different types of empathic links, from superficial to deep, including his momentary identification with the perpetrators of the Mayan genocide. I explore the relationships among the representations of empathy suggested by the plot with the concepts of trauma and embodiment, emphasizing on how it distances from other human rights narratives. I show in the process how Insensatez represents and takes part in discussions about the current validity of the testimonio genre. The novel operates over the expectations of narrative empathy in that genre and the human rights reports, offering new venues for their articulation in a complex post-conflict scenario. The series of failed identifications that I encounter, framed in the trauma and the paranoia of the narrator, leads me to conclude that the novel is an excellent example of what I call reflective empathy, a stance that avoids momentary or invasive instances of perspective-taking substitutions. Biography Carlos Gardeazabal Bravo is a Ph.D. candidate in Hispanic studies at the University of Connecticut. His research and teaching interests lie in the intersections of contemporary Latin American literature, human rights narratives, the cultural politics of emotion, ecocriticism, and biopolitics. He is in the process of turning his dissertation into a published book. Entitled Human Rights and the Politics of Empathy in 21st Century Latin American Literature, this manuscript analyzes the political and ideological constructions behind novels that bring about empathic bonds between readers and the objects of narrative. It provides a historicized standpoint for the study of empathy in human rights literature, while proposing a reflective stance in that perspective-taking process.

His dissertation (written in part with the help of the HRI Dissertation Fellowship) centers its 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


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