Monumentalizing Memory: Symbolic Struggles and Urban Landscapes in San Salvador

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2022-04-22

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My project maps the monuments erected during the Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992) and especially after the peace process in San Salvador (1992-1993) related to this conflict. The Salvadoran Civil War, fought between the guerrillas unified under the FMLN and the US-backed Salvadoran army, was one of the fiercest conflicts in Latin America during the 20thcentury and one of the last to be produced in the context of the Cold War. In addition to the intensity of the armed struggle and the high number of civilian casualties, this conflict is notorious because it had no clear winner and was the first peace process mediated by United Nations. Furthermore, one of the recommendations of the UN’s Commission on the Truth for El Salvador was the erection of a monument for the civilian casualties of the conflict. Although Salvadoran governments ignored this recommendation for years until The Monumento a la Memoria y la Verdad was inaugurated in 2003, many more monuments have continued to populate San Salvador’s landscape. My project tracks the patterns of memorialization that emerged during the transition to democracy in this country and aims to document information that is not easily accessible on the internet about these sites of memorialization. Furthermore, I argue that both sides of the armed struggle, now institutionalized political actors, have continued to memorialize and monumentalize their perspective of the conflict up until a point of saturation, which, in turn, coincides with the current crisis of Salvadoran democracy.

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