Visual Politics of Solidarity: Film and Graphic Art in the Argentine Left’s Struggle against Imperialism and State Repression, 1971–76

Saturday, January 3, 2015: 2:50 PM
Carnegie Room West (Sheraton New York)
Jessica Stites Mor, University of British Columbia at Okanagan
The cultural life of leftist political organizing in Argentina has recently become a new focus among historians interested in responses to repressive regimes on the eve of the 1976 military coup. While narratives of state violence, the Cold War, and later a neo-liberal ‘transition to democracy’, have dominated interpretations of the country's recent history, very little attention has been given to how those who fought against these ills constructed their own worldviews. New archival sources are now available to provide the means to understand how these views were shaped, through correspondence, oral history, recently opened police files, and new archives of political publications. From these sources, it is clear that key perspectives on broader conflicts and internal struggles were shaped by cultural sources, of which film and leftist periodicals were key. These sources not only evidence commitments to broadly defined transnational solidarity, but also gave shape to the meaning of solidarity for the emerging New Left in Argentina. This paper examines the visual artifacts within widely circulated film and print sources that defined the emerging left’s perspectives on imperialism, race and gender struggles shared by other peoples of the ‘Third World,’ and Argentina’s own relationship with colonialism. It responds to the larger question of how visual communications influence ideas about political unity and common cause in transnational solidarity campaigns across the global South. Finally, it argues, that understanding the cultural resources of political activism will offer insights into the trans-local political patterns of mobilization they encourage.