This past week, the journal Popular Communication, in a special edition on Human Rights Memory, edited by Professor Susana Kaiser, from the University of San Francisco, published an article we wrote to reflect on the process of making Después de Trujillo and the insights gained from screening the film in the Dominican Republic at the end of 2016. The article abstract is reproduced below, but the journal has a paywall. There is a number of free downloads available; if you would like one, please get in touch on the contact form.
This article explores theoretical-methodological challenges in researching the formation of collective memory in the wake of dictatorship. The worldwide growth of memory sites suggests space crystallizes memory into stable formations (Assman, 1995). However, rather than monolithic discourses, environments attest to complex processes of memorialization and willful amnesia. I propose that research-led filmmaking can draw out spaces’ heterogeneous “stories in waiting” (de Certeau, 1989). Through the documentary After Trujillo (2016), which revisits memory sites and ruins of Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorship from 1930–1961 in the Dominican Republic , I assess how working at the interface between research and film can: 1. Probe space’s testimonial capacity; 2. Engage audiences in public debates about violent pasts; and 3. Stimulate sustainable discussions through online platforms. Given that films still lack recognition as academic outputs, at stake here is the claim that creative methodologies constitute “a form of research” and “detectable research outputs” (Smith & Dean 2009).
collective memory; space; dictatorship; documentary filmmaking; modern ruins