“Una parte de ella había abandonado su cuerpo”: The (dis)appearing past in writing by Alia Trabucco Zerán, María José Ferrada and Mariana Enríquez

Ruth McHugh-Dillon

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In recent fiction from Chile and Argentina, the past is a predator that hunts the present. In this paper, I analyse two novels by Chilean authors, Alia Trabucco Zerán’s La resta (2015) and María José Ferrada’s Kramp (2017) alongside a short story collection by the Argentinean Mariana Enríquez, Las cosas que perdimos en el fuego (2016). Despite genre differences—Trabucco Zerán’s road trip narrative, Enríquez’s horror stories, Ferrada’s child’s-eye view—all explore contemporary experiences of young women born into a world shaped by the 1970’s military dictatorships. A tension between presence and absence is central: if the authoritarian past is rarely named in these texts, its ghosts and corpses, silences and disappearances nevertheless continue to “dictate” how the female protagonists embody their lives and understand their (broken) families. I argue that through their emphasis on girls’ and young women’s lives, together with their representation of fragmented families, Trabucco Zerán, Ferrada and Enríquez in very different ways expose and challenge the gendered, patriarchal logic of authoritarianism. These texts exemplify a new generation of writing from the Southern Cone engaging with a past that, though shaped by disappearance, will not let go.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventAssociation of Iberian and Latin American Studies of Australasia Biannual 2020 Conference: Visions: Possibilities, Performance, and the Past - Online
Duration: 4 Jul 202014 Jul 2020


ConferenceAssociation of Iberian and Latin American Studies of Australasia Biannual 2020 Conference

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