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    Las huellas de la guerra / Gonzalo Sánchez G
    Guerras, memoria e historia. -- Bogotá, Colombia : Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e historia ICANH, 2003
    p. 21-36
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Sánchez Gómez, Gonzalo. "Las huellas de la guerra." In Guerra, memoria e historia, 21- 36. Bogotá, Colombia: Instituto colombiano de Antropología e historia, 2003.

In the chapter called “Las huellas de la guerra” [The Scars of War] (2003), the Colombian historian Gonzalo Sánchez G. discusses the “very complex and allusive” relationships involved in the trilogy Guerras, Memoria e Historia [Wars, Memory, and History] and their effect on both the development of a sense of Colombian identity and the portrayal of the country’s experience and collective imagination. It is essentially a matter of memory. The author refers to the chronic state of war in Colombia, which he describes as an exceptional case in Latin America, and explains that its collateral damage is social and cultural as well as political and economic. He admits that there is a “culture of violence” that manifests as an “identifiable, explainable, and recurring tendency.” He says that in Colombia, the word “memory” is associated with rupture, division, and the tearing of the social fabric, as distinct from the European interpretation that associates “memory” with remembrance, and honoring the past or historical rituals. Sánchez ends with a review of Colombian amnesties and pardons.      


This essay by the Colombian historian and sociologist Gonzalo Sánchez (b. 1945) helps to understand violence, history, and memory because it provides a context for our particular “chronic state of war” and sheds light on some of the cultural aspects involved. The essay, which was included in the book Guerras, memoria e historia [Wars, Memory, and History] (2003), has roots in the social sciences and was based on prior research in Colombia that is similar to art in a number of ways.


During the 1990s this country’s internal struggles were portrayed and interpreted from several different perspectives, and the individual and collective imagination was expressed through universal forms. On one hand, photography as memento mori (Susan Sontag), as in the case of the Colombian artist Rodrigo Facundo (b. 1958) and his Instantes y huellas [Instants and Traces] (1991); on the other, poetic transformations of matter and space as in Atrabiliarios [Evil Tempered Ones] (1993) by the Colombian artist Doris Salcedo (b. 1958), among others.  


This chapter also complements essays written by Colombian artists, such as “Ponencia en el Museo Nacional de Colombia” [Lecture at the National Museum of Colombia] (2003) by Doris Salcedo [see doc. no. 1088508]; “Cuerpo gramatical” [Grammatical Body] (2006) by José Alejandro Restrepo [doc. no. 1091816]; and “Mirada y paisaje” [View and Landscape] (2004) by Juan Fernando Herrán [doc. no. 855638].


“La violentología como destino” [Violentology as Destiny] (Pardo, Orlando 1995) has been attributed to Gonzalo Sánchez; his involvement and interest in the subject have made him one of the most well-informed individuals in the country in this particular field. This chapter was part of his “Doctorate based on works” at the École d’Hautes Études [School of Advanced Studies] in Paris, and fired the intellectual activities of the group Democracia, Nación y Guerra [Democracy, Nation, and War] that was run by the author from the Instituto de Estudios Políticos y Relaciones Internacionales (IEPRI) [Institute of Political Studies and International Relations] at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, sponsored by the Research Administration at the same school.

Eliana Salazar Moreno
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Gonzalo Sánchez Gómez, Bogotá, Colombia