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Lena Voigtländer

“Strangers whose Faces I know”- Photography, ‘memoria historica’ and the second generation in El Salvador (Provisional title)

Memory and remembering are broadly connected with the person who has in some way been part of what is remembered. But what, how and why does the second generation, those who were born just before the end of the civil war in El Salvador or shortly after, remember?

This research focuses on three areas that are particularly intertwined with the guerrilla and their history. The two largest areas controlled by the guerrillas (throughout most of the civil war) located in the departments of Chalatenango and Morazán, and the Metropolitan Area of San Salvador, which was hard-fought over the entire time. Most of the young adults in these areas are directly related to the former guerrilla.

The civil war in El Salvador was one of the most photographed wars of its time. Pictures of the guerrilla are part of and reflect the memories of the second generation. But the memories of the second generation are marked not just by the distance of time but by the absence of the experience the memories derive of. Hence they are difficult memories in more than one aspect. Starting from their memories about the guerrilla and of their lives being (direct) descendants of the guerrilla, the questions of transmission of difficult memories arises. What, how, and why or why not do the young adults remember? The research does not merely try to answer these questions but to collaborate in finding ways to talk about these post-memories, the photographs and to find terms adequate for the present situation and for the second generation themselves.

VoigtländerAssuming that the young adults have some sort of post-memories, the research aims to open up space of knowledge and understanding for the young adults to work with their memories. Furthermore inquire if or how the past influenced their present lives, for this is a topic many of the young adults are greatly interested in. However, beside these assumptions the research is not based on hypotheses but structured as a work in process guided by structures given by the applied scientific methods.


Betreuerin: Prof. Dr. Karoline Noack
Förderung: Doktorandenstipendium (BMBF) der Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung.
Foto: Ohne Angaben. Archiv des Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen, San Salvador, El Salvador.