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Dwellers of memory : an ethnography of place, memory and violence in Medellín, Colombia Riaño Alcalá, Pilar 2000

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DWELLERS OF MEMORY: AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF PLACE, MEMORY AND VIOLENCE IN MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA by PILAR R I A N O - A L C A L A B.A. , National University of Colombia, 1983 M.A. , Simon Fraser University, 1991 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR of PHILOSOPHY in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES Department of Anthropology and Sociology We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A © Pilar Riafio-Alcala, 2000 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, 1 agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) Abstract This dissertation documents the memories of Medellin's city dwellers and explores how people in violent urban contexts make sense of violence and deal with its presence in their lives. This study is defined as an anthropology of remembering; it is an ethnographic observation of the practices of remembering and forgetting and how these practices shape and are shaped by the lived experience of violence. The dissertation is built on extensive fieldwork in the Colombian city of Medellin with a cross section of women, youth and community leaders. The thesis argues that when the uncertainty and paradox created by widespread forms of violence threaten to destroy the social and material worlds of Colombian city dwellers, memory becomes a strategic tool for human and cultural survival. The creation of an oral history of death and the dead, the presence of a local social knowledge that assists city dwellers in their safe circulation in and through the city, and the maintenance of practices of place making are examples of how city dwellers deal with the devastating effects of violence in their lives. The thesis develops a place-based exploration of memory and violence and approaches place as a physical, sensory, social and imaginative experience that maintains a sense of continuity between the past and the every day life of Medellin's city dwellers. The two connecting concepts that ground the analysis of the relationship between people, memory and violence are those of "sense of place" and "communities of memory." The dimensions of human agency, cultural survival and human suffering are central to the exploration of memory, place and violence developed in this thesis. From this perspective, the thesis takes to task anthropological works on violence that emphasize the routinization of terror and fear for those who live amidst widespread violence. The thesis discusses the multiple ways in which memory is disputed in Colombia and the risks posed by a local reading of violence as intrinsic to the history of the country. It concludes that when individuals are faced with realities such as life and death, the familiar faces of the actors of violence and the weakening of the social and ethical fabric of their communities, they do not stand in definite positions and cannot be defined in simple terms such as victims and perpetrators. Thus, it can be recognized that although violence plays a central role in the Medellin city dwellers processes of identity formation, it does not exhaust these possibilities. Table of Contents ABSTRACT H T A B L E OF CONTENTS IV LIST OF FIGURES V H LIST OF MAPS Vffl M A P # 1 COLOMBIA IN SOUTH AMERICA ix M A P # 2 T H E GUERRILLA AND THE PARAMILITARY IN COLOMBIA x M A P # 3 DEPARTMENT OF ANTIOQUIA, MEDELLIN xi M A P # 4 MEDELLIN BY ZONES AND COMMUNES: AREAS OF FDELDWORK xu ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . X m CHAPTER ONE 1 INTRODUCTION: AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF REMEMBERING ; 1 AIM AND Focus 2 COLOMBIA: AT THE CROSSROADS 3 MEMORY, PLACE AND VIOLENCE: A FRAMEWORK 7 Memory as a Cultural Practice 7 PLACES... . 14 VIOLENCE 17 OUTLINES 21 CHAPTER TWO ...26 METHODOLOGICAL MEMORIES 26 T H E "FIELD" 29 ACTORS AND SITES 30 T H E RESEARCH METHODS AND INSTRUMENTS 36 Walkabouts 38 The Memory Workshops 39 REFLECTIONS ON RESEARCH AS PRAXIS 52 SITUATING THE ANTHROPOLOGIST 55 Praxis, alliances and methods 58 On Active neutrality 62 SOME PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS 65 CHAPTER THREE 70 THE HISTORY OF BARRIO ANTIOQUIA IS THE HISTORY OF COLOMBIA: L O C A L HISTORIES IN A NATIONAL LIGHT 70 CLOUDS OF SMOKE: T H E THIRTIES 72 ORIGINS 74 A WAR OF COLOURS AND HORRORS: T H E FIFTIES 77 R E D LIGHTS IN THE BARRIO: T H E "TOLERANT" YEARS 80 LANGUAGES OF CONCEALMENT: T H E SIXTIES 85 LABLANCA 89 TRAVELLERS TO THE " U S A " : T H E SEVENTIES 92 iv A TROUBLING IMAGE OF YOUTH 94 BUSY STREETS 100 LOCAL WARS 105 PIGS FOR PEACE 108 "POR QUE, A PESAR DE TANTA MIERDA, ESTE BARRIO ES PODER ? " 112 C H A P T E R 4 115 R E M E M B E R I N G P L A C E : M A K I N G A N D S E N S I N G P L A C E S 115 ENCOUNTERING P L A C E 116 MEMORY LANDMARKS: A WALKABOUT 118 PLACE NAMING 124 Moral Lessons and Myth-Names 126 Changing Names, Changing Dynamics 128 Home Far Away From Home 131 T H E MEMORY OF THINGS SEEN 133 SOUNDSCAPING 136 DWELLING 141 La Casa. 144 IMAGINING.... 146 MAPPING 150 CONCLUSION 154 C H A P T E R 5 157 O R A L H I S T O R I E S O F D E A T H A N D T H E D E A D 157 NARRATIVES OF THE DEAD 158 Ellos y Ellas: The presence of the absent bodies 755 The Disappeared 168 GENRES 177 Chronologies of death and dead-listings 177 EVENTS AND THEIR MEANING: GIVING DEATH A PLACE 183 An event of life 183 An embodied place ; 188 TYPES OF STORIES 191 Ghosts Stories 191 Possessed Spirits 195 CONCLUSION: COMMUNITIES OF MEMORY 199 C H A P T E R 6 202 T E R R I T O R I A L I T Y , C I R C U L A T I O N A N D M E M O R Y 202 MEDELLIN AND ITS TERRITORIAL TRANSFORMATIONS 204 Place, deterritorialization and globalization 210 WALKING AND TRAVELLING ROUTES AND DETOURS 212 Restrictions and protections .213 Crossing borders 216 IMPLICIT KNOWLEDGE AND GEOGRAPHICAL DISTINCTIONS 222 Typologies of Social Space and Spatial Practices 223 T H E MEMORIES OF TERRITORIAL PRACTICES 230 Territorial attachments. 230 The Strategy of Place 233 TERRITORIAL OTHERNESS 238 CONCLUSION 246 C H A P T E R S E V E N 248 v O B S E R V E R S , W A N D E R E R S A N D W I T N E S S E S : E T H I C S A N D S U B J E C T P O S I T I O N I N G — 248 Ethical Interrogation '. 250 SUBJECTS AND CULTURAL CONSTRUCTIONS 253 Martyrs 253 Amazons 259 DUTIES OF PLACE AND SELF 266 The Ethics in Violence 268 POSITIONING THE SUBJECT: OBSERVERS, WANDERERS AND WITNESSES 272 Positioned Observers and Pleasurable Observations. 275 Observer and Wanderer Types 277 The Ethics of Witnessing: What Am I to Do Here? 281 CONCLUSION 284 C H A P T E R E I G H T 286 G E N E R A L C O N C L U S I O N S 286 A N O C T U R N A L M A P : T H E T R A F F I C O F M E M O R I E S 286 A PLACE-BASED EXPLORATION OF MEMORY AND VIOLENCE 287 CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND VIOLENCE 289 MEMORY, FORGETTING AND RECONSTRUCTION 294 B I B L I O G R A P H Y 299 G L O S S A R Y 327 L I S T O F W O R K S H O P S A N D G R O U P S E S S I O N S 330 List of Figures Figure 1 Sample of a mental map 46 Figure 2 Sample of a visual biography 47 Figure 3 Sample of a photo album 48 Figure 4 Sample of a Memory Quilt 50 Figure 5 Visual record of memory workshops and group sessions 68 Figure 6 North Eastern zone, barrio Villa del Socorro 69 Figure 7 Barrio Antioquia. Sancocho soup block party 69 Figure 8 The first night of the decree 517 82 Figure 9 Johana's quilt image 134 Figure 10 Arlex's quilt image 137 Figure 11 Remembering the Lambada Sounds 140 Figure 12 Juan's quilt image 142 Figure 13 Open-air theatre under the bridge 149 Figure 14 Tombstone at a local cemetery 174 Figure 15 Music for the dead 176 Figure 16 Quilt images of group "Wayferers" ...187 Figure 17 Liberating December, quilt image by Martha on the top left 218 Figure 18 Quilt made by the gang of El Cuadradero, Barrio Antioquia 231 vii List of Maps Map # 1 Colombia in South America ix Map # 2 The Guerrilla and the Paramilitary in Colombia x Map # 3 Department of Antioquia, Medellin xi Map # 4 Medellin by zones and communes: areas of fieldwork xii Map# 5 Groups and Gangs in Barrio Antioquia (1970-1997) 106a Map # 6 Territories, memories and places in Barrio Antioquia 237 viii Map#1 Colombia in South America Map # 2 The Guerrilla and the Paramilitary in Colombia PARAMILITARIES 1990 Source: Revista Cambio 16 # 233, December 1997:29 X Map# 3 Department of Antioquia, Medellin Acknowledgements Many supported me in mapping this work and to each one of you thank you. To Francisco Ibanez-Carrasco, "memory-companion" during the Ph.D., gracias andgracias for your inspiring criticisms and careful reading of each chapter. To Dean Brown for your amazing work with the translations. I received insightful comments, encouragement and much support from Dorothy Kidd, Yvonne Riano, Garth Manning, Barry Wright, and Ann Macklem who read several chapters of the thesis. Sebastian Gil-Riafio took on many tasks and with the freshness of life provided valuable comments and editorial corrections. To my committee members Blanca Muratorio, Julie Cruikshank, and Brian Elliott special thanks for you support, enthusiasm and very relevant comments. In Medellin, I am indebted to the workers at Corporacion Region for providing me with intellectual challenge and great help. Thanks to Ruben Fernandez, Marta Vil la and Ana Maria Jaramillo for the many hours of debate and their support. Juan Fernando, Fulvia, La Mona, Vicky and Javier were very important for my fieldwork. To Jorge Garcia in Corporacion Presencia Colombo Suiza for his assistance in barrio Antioquia. To Alfredo Ghiso who shared the "methodological passion" with me. Augusto, Rogelio, Wilson, Adriana, Alvaro, Cesar, Milton, Arlex, and Arlen provided important support taking me in walkabouts and spending many hours exchanging ideas and stories. To Sebastian and Diana, friends and research assistants from whom I learned and got so much. To my parents Jaime and Ceci for their generosity and unconditional help, gracias mil!, to my sister Jeannette who kept newspapers clippings and helped greatly with transcriptions and many other tasks, and to my sister Yvonne whose support is always xiii present although she is so far away. I am grateful to Barry for keeping my days meaningful and filled with sounds of hammering, and to Ketcheka for getting me out of my desk to play chase in the park. To my children Andrea, Raphaelle, Gabriel and Sebastian for understanding my absences and for their kind interest and support. To Eva Veres for some much needed computer support. The research for this thesis was made possible by the financial support received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the International Development Research Centre and the many expenses assumed by Corporation Region during my fieldwork. xiv To Sebastian .. in Vancouver To Sebastian.. in Medellin X V Chapter One Introduction: An Anthropology of Remembering I begin with an image that is imprinted in my memory. A church filled with more than five hundred people and with around three thousand more on the streets. In the early hours of the morning of May 19th, 1997, five heavily armed men dressed in black invaded the apartment of Mario and Elsa, two Colombian social researchers and environmentalists. The bursts of bullets killed Mario, Elsa, and Don Carlos (Elsa's father) and left Elsa's mother seriously injured. Ivan, their two-year-old son was the only one left untouched by the bullets. At the church, Francisco an eleven-year-old boy, reminded us that Ivan survived only because his mother hid him in a closet. What he said afterwards, I can not forget: "I would like to live all my life in a closet so I do not have to see that." Francisco's words challenge us to think about the future for Colombian children and the ways we should remember these friends who were known for their happiness, love for life, peace and environmental work. Francisco's words compelled me to write this dissertation, as does the memory of Mario Calderon and Elsa Alvarado, Julian Vargas, Milton, Hernan Henao, Jaime Garzon, and Kelly Lozano. This deeply scarring incident, one among many in the every day life of Colombia, inspires two central questions: What practices of memory are necessary i f we are to face the present challenges in a country like Colombia? What are the types of social research that would be sensitive to Francisco's statement? l f Aim and Focus In its broadest terms my thesis is concerned with the cultural dimensions of violence. I documented and explored the memories of Medellin's 1 city dwellers searching for clues that might explain how people make sense of violence and deal with its presence in their everyday lives. My work is best defined as an anthropology of remembering; it is an ethnographic observation of how people remember and forget and how they actualize memories in daily life. Memory is the methodological tool I used to explore the multiple dimensions of violence in the city of Medellin; it is what drives me to write this thesis. The focus of the ethnographic observation and the interpretative task is on the memory practices of Medellin's city dwellers. Memory, furthermore, triggers the central argument of this thesis: memory becomes a strategic tool for human and cultural survival when the uncertainty and paradox created by violence threatens to destroy the social worlds of Colombian city dwellers. Remembering and forgetting are cultural practices that help to maintain a degree of coherence and control in their lives. More specifically, memory represents a bridging practice that can activate a sense of "togetherness" and a tool for making sense of the presence of everyday violence. To develop this argument, I weave my ethnographic exploration around the concept of place as a physical, sensorial, social and imaginative realm. 1 Medellin is the second largest city of the country and Capital of the Department of Antioquia. See Map #1 and #3. 2 Colombia: at the Crossroads During the fifteen months of my fieldwork, between September 1996 and December 1997, Colombians witnessed several critical national events. Fifteen hundred women from towns and cities across the country joined a march to Mutata, a town in the Colombian region of Uraba, (See Map # 3) entitled "women on the peaceful route for the resolution of conflicts." In Mutata, they reaffirmed their commitment to peace and democratization initiatives and proclaimed that in their condition as women "we refuse to birth any more sons or daughters for the war."2 Two hundred thousand peasants participated in marches and protests against government policies for the eradication of illicit crops, and children gathered to formulate their vision of a Colombia in peace while appointing children-peace-agents for every region of the country. A heated debate about contributions from the drug cartel towards the financing of president Ernesto Samper's political campaign marked the political life of the country. While the calls for the president's resignation spread, several political, government and social personalities had to report to the national prosecutor's office and respond to their alleged links with the narcotraffic. There was social unrest and widespread social protests were observed throughout the entire year. A national general strike was led by the major unions, and uprisings in fifteen jails protested the overcrowded and dehumanizing conditions. Meanwhile teachers, peasants, truckers, electric and port workers, the judicial 2 This was one of the central slogans of their march and is quoted in the document "Las mujeres frente al conflicto armado del pais." This document contains these women's stance on the armed conflict in the country and their resolutions towards an agenda for the peaceful resolution of the conflicts (Ramirez, 1997). 3 sector and government employees participated in a variety of protests and strikes (Arango, 1997; Restrepo, 1998). Internationally, relations with United States were tense and Colombia was "de-certified"3 for a second time with the argument that it had failed to co-operate on the war on drugs (Tickner, 1998). Organizations like the European Economic Union, the Organization of American States, the United Nations, and the European Parliament were highly critical of the human rights situation in the country and demanded immediate action to prevent sanctions against Colombia. Meanwhile, the two largest guerrilla organizations, the F A R C (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) and the E L N (National Liberation Army) continued to expand their territorial influence and power. Many rural populations suffered prolonged guerrilla attacks, and the electrical infrastructure and oil pipelines were sabotaged. In contrast to the repeated military defeats of the Colombian army by the guerrillas, the right wing paramilitary organizations experienced an unprecedented growth. The two largest paramilitary groups joined to form a national organization, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia [Colombian United Self-Defenses] with the goal of strengthening their military power and political recognition. The paramilitary made multiple threats and attacks against human rights workers and social leaders and against civilians and the populations of whole towns who were labelled as "guerrilla collaborators." While spreading terror, they became responsible for 60% of the more than a hundred massacres that took place in 3 Since 1986, the United States has adopted the drug certification process by which they rate other countries "co-operation" with the "war on drugs." Colombia was first de-certified in 1996 (Tickner, 1998). The consequences of a "de-certification" are political and can also be economic. In 1997, for example, the United States considered minor economic sanctions against Colombia and directed its sanctions against the Executive powers of the country. In this year, United States revoked president Samper's United States visa. 4 1997, and for approximately 75% of the internal displacement. In three years 300,000 Colombians were forcibly displaced from their homes (Arango, 1997; Comision Colombiana de Juristas, 1998; Restrepo, 1997). In contrast with the widespread violence and attesting to a history of civilian resilience and resistance, 1997 was a crucial year in the consolidation of national civilian initiatives for peace and democratization. On October 26, ten million Colombians joined the "Citizen's Mandate for Peace, Life and Freedom" by including an additional ballot with their vote during departmental and municipal elections. Through this ballot, they called out to all the armed actors for a peaceful resolution to the conflicts, a respect for human rights, a stop to the enrolment of minors in the war, and an end to the killings, kidnappings, disappearances, attacks and displacement of the civil population (Restrepo, 1997; 1998).4 Colombia is one of the many countries with an armed conflict that claims the lives of thousands of civilians every year and a record of violence that places it as one of the most violent countries among contemporary societies (Palacios, 1997).5 The death of Mario, Elsa and Carlos made them part of the ten people who die daily for political reasons and of the 26,000 homicides committed every year (Comision Colombiana de Juristas, 1998). Mario and Elsa were also part of the more than ten million Colombians searching and calling for peace in innovative and far-ranging initiatives. 4 The numbers of victims speak of the magnitude of the problem: 1,260 people were kidnapped in 1997; 2,340 have disappeared in the last two decades, and one million five hundred thousand have been forcibly displaced in the last ten years (El tiempo, November 4, 1997; Comision Colombiana de Juristas, 1998). 5 The second most violent country in the Americas is Brazil, but the statistics are far from Colombia's with 24 homicides per 100.000. The reported rate for Canada is 2.6 per 100.000 and for United States is eight homicides per 100.000 (Carrion, 1995). 5 The characteristics of the Colombian conflict defy any simple reading. Colombia has experienced different phases and types of violence since the beginning of the 20th century. The armed conflict between the guerrillas and the army has roots in the early 60s when the FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces) and the E L N (National Liberation Army) emerged. Today, the F A R C is the oldest guerrilla group on the continent, and between 10,000 to 12,000 individuals are active members of these two guerrilla organizations that have a presence in more than 60% of the national territory (Palacios, 1991 f (See map # 2). In the 1980s, Colombia became one of the main stages for the world drug trade. The landscape of violence became further complicated when the drug cartels promoted terrorist actions and killings as a means of defending themselves from extradition and of strengthening their power. The accumulation of money and power by the drug cartels of Medellin and Cali (Department of Valle, see Map #1) instigated other forms of social violence including bomb attacks, the assassination of judges, politicians, journalists, social leaders, kidnapping and territorial gang violence (Rodriguez, 1999). In the 1980s, the paramilitary organizations consolidated their power in the countryside with support from wealthy landowners and the drug cartels. Today these organizations have expanded throughout the country, having an army of more than 5,000 members. Both the guerrillas and the paramilitary finance some of their operations with drug money. The Colombian army plays many roles in this violence, having one of the worst records in human rights abuses and a proven collaboration with paramilitary violence. By 1999, the United States 6 The FARC formed in the mid-50s and is the largest and most powerful guerrilla group in the country. The FARC was formed in response to the offensive launched by the military government against the Communist led enclaves of smallholders. The ELN was founded in the 1960s and was inspired by the Cuban revolution. It is the second largest guerrilla group (Bergquist, Peflaranda and Sanchez, 1992). 6 had increased its military presence in Colombia to a point in which the country became the fourth largest recipient of foreign military aid after Israel, Egypt and Jordan (Rodriguez, 1999). United States military aid is supposedly to combat the narcotics trade, but it has also being used to fight guerrillas. In the city of Medellin, there are two main local armed actors. There are the militias that originally emerged as a form of urban guerrilla and the youth gangs that became trapped in the spiral of violence in the 1980s when the drug cartel used them as hired assassins and for several other activities. Both militias and gangs have a territorial presence in the barrios of Medellin and fight over the control of territories. In what follows, I introduce the guiding ideas in a framework for examining the cultural dimensions of violence through a study of the memory practices of Medellin's city dwellers. Memory, Place and Violence: a Framework Memory as a Cultural Practice This section discusses my approach to memory as a cultural practice, a form and system of action that relate to a domain of knowledge and a locus of experience.7 Memory constitutes a culturally mediated material practice rather than a natural process (Antze and Lambek, 1996; Seremetakis, 1994). This approach to memory is phenomenological: a) it places memory practices in the realm of experience; memories 7 Foucault (1984) describes practice as different systems of action insofar as they are inhabited by thought. The definition of memory as a practice involves forms of action, a locus of experience and a domain of knowledge. 7 are produced "out of experience, and in turn, reshape it" (Antze and Lambek, 1996:xii), and b) it recognizes that memories are activated by embodied acts, the material world and the sensing of places. Bodies and places animate each other and are intimately intertwined with memory (Casey, 1995; Seremetakis, 1994). I have turned to the memory practices of Medellin's city dwellers in order to approach violence from the point of lived experience and from its cultural dimensions. The relationship between memory and identity is at the centre of this exploration. Memories have the power to trigger mechanisms and processes of recognition that allow the individual and the collective to give meaning and purpose to their lives and affirm their identities (Lowenthal, 1985; Montoya, 1996). This link between memory and identity is examined in this dissertation through three connected ideas about the place of memory in our daily lives: a) memory provides a bridge between the past, present and future, and between the individual and the collective; b) memory constitutes a situated distance, a distance that distinguishes memory from the immediacy of direct experience; and c) memories are located in places, they are placed experiences. The following two sub-sections discuss the first two ideas. The discussion of memory as a placed experienced is integrated in the section on place. Bridges The image of memory as a bridging practice illustrates the role of memory practices in triggering associations and relationships. A first relationship is with the past. Acts of remembering start in the present and situate the individual by going back in time and re-visiting the past. The relationship established indicates re-creation, shaping and re-imagining of the past for the purposes of the present rather than a mere preservation of the past (Lowenthal, 1985; Passerini, 1992). A l l acts of remembering, consequently, involve a selective process and a "claim" or a set of individuals' claims about the past (Connerton, 1989). This human ability to make claims about the past provides a source of meaning for our lives and a means through which we render our lives meaningful. Practices of remembering and forgetting are socially and culturally mediated, consequently, our acts of memory affirm or deny something in regards to our processes of identity construction. Through the practices of remembering and forgetting we circle back in time to re-visit the past and through these same practices we look towards the future and combine a sense of the past to future possibilities (Perlman, 1988). The relationship between the individual and the collective is a second association triggered by the practices of memory, a relation by which we learn of the personal and collective character of memory practices (Lowenthal, 1985). Acts of remembering and forgetting are an intrinsic part of our personal and private lives. Our individual memories, however, are continuously re-enacted and collectivized through the sharing of memories. As social and cultural beings, we share memories with each other to confirm recollections, establish a sense of continuity and social identity. This allows us to stress that "memory is neither a cultural given nor an individual creation but something between the two" (Teski and Climo, 1995). Acts of memory-sharing have different functions attached to a group's need to mobilize collective memories that sustain their identity as a group (Connerton, 1989), and the construction of collective images through which individuals perceive themselves as a collective. It is through this interplay between the individual and the collective that a 9 sense of continuity with the past and with others and a sense of discontinuity (such as in mourning) in relation with others is established (Lambek, 1996). In the construction of a sense of the collective, the individual subject and his/her experiences and memories are crucial in providing ways to construct and narrate a collective experience and identity (Lambek, 1996). Memories are produced under specific cultural, embodied and discursive practices. The practices of remembering and forgetting are mediated by social relations and by specific institutional forms and discursive practices. A number of questions pertaining to this relationship are raised by this thesis: a) In situations of widespread violence, what are the types of claims that are made through the individual and collective memory practices of city dwellers? b) What are the institutional and discursive realms in which memory is produced, and most importantly, disputed? These questions suggest a third association between the past, the present and the future. It refers to the role of the practices of memory to act as an awareness tool for the individual. Remembering, Perlman argues, "keeps things alive; it is a 'saving' awareness. It is in memory that the faces of human culture must first be saved" (1988:133). In this dissertation I examine how memory has become a bridging practice that allows city dwellers to restore some sense to their lives and re-create survival strategies. This description of the character of memory points to its functional character in our every day lives, in the present and in envisioning the future, and to its disputed nature as a social practice that permeates society. Memory, rather than a force that generates narrative, mythic or visual consensus, is the place in which power relations are enacted (Sanchez, 1999), a place from which groups make claims about their past in order to locate 10 themselves in the present, and envision themselves in the future. Memory is a plural, heterogeneous, conflictive and disputed terrain manipulated by diverse groups and interests (Riano, 1997). In Colombia, memory is a dynamic and powerful force in every day life, in the struggles of a variety of indigenous and civic social movements, in the dynamics of violence, and in the work of human rights and democratic initiatives. The memory of past violences is a fundamental ingredient in the present violence, but on the other hand, the memory of resistance and traditional cultural practices inform the struggles of several social movements. Memory in the country is a contested terrain (Sanchez, 1999; Riafio, 1997).8 The role of memory practices as awareness tool has been discussed by Luisa Passerini (1992) to argue that, in times of extreme endurance, terror and totalitarianism, memory can become a physical and cultural survival tool. This illustrates the role of memory practices to act as a bridge between life and death, between physical survival and social reconstruction. Passerini reflects on how memory can save lives in conditions of terror and oppression. However, she also reflects on how the memory that might have helped us in physical survival may not be enough to assist us when we assume the tasks of the present, the task of remembering past horrors and of engaging in society's reconstruction. To remember past images of'horror and destruction is crucial to prevent The uses and, as Todorov (1997) proposes, abuses of memory in everyday life reveal the attempts by individuals and groups to make sense of who they are and of the means they use for identity construction and social status definition. It also reveals the attempts of regimes and institutions to control social ' memories and to silence entire areas of memory production (Cohen, 1994). Memory, Todorov warns us, is threatened by a multitude of forces such as the attempts of totalitarian regimes to erase and silence the memories of entire groups, the function of over exposure to information in consumer and democratic societies, the inability of social groups to detach themselves from a past of pains and horror and their making of memory into a cult. 11 future catastrophe and by the same route, to remember destruction "is a way of serving the powers of memory and imagination themselves" (Perlman, 1988:6). I find my location in this thesis whenever I engage in the act of remembering Francisco's words. This act of remembering, like the many acts of remembering of Medellin's city dwellers, reveals my own struggles to make sense of the past and at the same time to find in Francisco's words, the force and sense of duty to remember and write. The linkage of memory as an awareness illustrates the possibility memory holds to give meaning to our lives (Passerini, 1992) and to function as a force that compels us to act. Memory emerges as a means of connection that links different peoples, generations, times, places and memories. Distances Lambek (1996) argues for the need to distinguish memory from the immediacy of direct experience. Remembering implies a subject who locates herself/himself at a distance, "the view of there from over here, of situated distance" (Lambek, 1996:242).9 This idea of memory as a situated distance or perspective is the second aspect that advances my discussion on the relationship between memory and identity. Memory begins when experience moves into the past (Antze and Lambek, 1996); the remembering act is experiential, however, because "mnemonic processes are intertwined with the 9 This view of memory as a situated and embodied distance includes those embodied and situated memory practices that Connerton defines as "social-habit-memory" (Connerton, 1989:36). The body has a learnt capacity, a bodily social memory, to reproduce a certain performance, to follow its codes and rules. This notion of social habit, according to Connerton, includes a knowledge and a remembering in the hands and in the body. 12 sensory order in such a manner as to render each perception a re-perception" (Seremetakis, 1994:9). The practices of remembering and forgetting transform one kind of experience (the event lived) into a different kind of experience (the remembering act) (Casey, 1987). In this thesis, I look at how individuals locate and position themselves in and during their remembering acts and how this re-situating transforms their past experiences into meaningful memories that assist them in making sense of their daily lives. To speak of memory as a situated distance implies that there is a sentient body that constructs this distance (sensorially, emotionally and physically) and that memory acts as a sense organ (Seremetakis, 1994; Stoller, 1995). Memory is activated by embodied acts and by a sentient body in motion and the body is culturally consumed and constructed through memories (Casey, 1995). Smell, sight, taste, sound, and motion all act as triggers in activating embodied memories (Feld, 1995; Stoller, 1995). The body is not simply a material and "objective" entity, but rather a phenomenal body, a lived body that is socially constituted and culturally shaped (Casey, 1987; Connerton, 1988). Through this connection with the senses, experience and the body underscore the fluidity and permeability of memory. Passerini (1999) describes memory as having "a texture" in which an intervention at any point will always have repercussions on other points. In this dissertation, I approach and examine the memory practices of city dwellers taking acute consideration of both memory's "sensing" capacity and "situational" potency. The relationship of these subjects with the surrounding environment of the city (natural, physical, social, imagined) is crucial, and consequently attention to memory as an experienced, situated and sensed practice is fundamental. Places Places have a distinct potency in enabling us to situate our acts of remembering. This relationship between memories and places lies at the core of the processes of individual and collective identity formation. This section examines the association between memory and places in order to introduce the last aspect in my discussion of the links between memory and identity. I have stressed that memory acts are produced in the realm of experience and that the sentient body is the central agent and subject of our remembering processes. Experience and embodied remembering also imply the taking of distance by a subject who locates himself/herself in the act of remembering. Embodiment and distance, however, are not just about taking a point of view; they also require one to be in a place, a place from which the individual who remembers is situated : As embodied existence opens onto place, indeed takes place in place and nowhere else, so our memory of what we experience in place is likewise place-specific: it is bound to place as to its own basis. (Casey, 1987: 182) (His emphasis) Casey's approach to place is critical of a dominant Western tradition that focuses on the temporal aspects of remembering and that reduces "places" to metrically determinate dimensions.10 Cultural geographers have challenged these reductionisms while noticing the pervasiveness of a space and time framework in the natural, social and human sciences (Buttimer, 1980; Pred, 1983; Riafio Y , 1998). As a result of this geometrical approach, place became equated with space (as a physical container or a site) and as a 1 0 Casey (1987, 1995) traces this reductionism and disregard for place back to the XVTIth century when space, and place along with it, became geometrized under the influence of Descartes and Newton who saw space in terms of length, breadth and width co-ordinates. 14 matter of a relative position (Buttimer, 1980; Casey, 1987). The view of place that is relevant to my ethnographic task is linked with embodied experience and sensorial perception, and was present in the classical art of memory, an art based on the systematic inventory of memory places (Nora, 1992).11 Yates (1966) has noted how in the classic Greek art of memory and later in Aristotle's reflections on memory, "place" was attached to a primary order of experience: "Perhaps [place] is the first of all things, since all existing things are either in place or not without place."12 The sensing and knowing of place requires the individual "to be in a place" and consequently to be in a position to perceive it (Casey, 1995:18). A crucial aspect of this understanding of place is Aristotle's view of the distinct "potencies" that places hold (Casey, 1987; 1995; Perlman, 1988). One of these central "potencies" is the ability places have in situating our < remembering and memorial life. Casey poses the question: "how can place, plain old place, be so powerful in matters of memory?" (1988:197) and answers this by highlighting the distinct power of places in shaping our lived experience and particularly, in eliciting remembering, I shall accord to place a position of renewed respect by specifying its power to direct and stabilize us, to memorialize and identify us, to tell us who and what we are in terms of where we are (as well as where we are not) (Casey, 1993: 22) Buttimer reflects on the many dimensions of meaning attached to places (symbolic, emotional, cultural, political, and biological), and finds place potential in the link between personal and cultural identity and place identity: "Loss of home or 'losing one's 1 1 The remembering of the order of places served as an aid to memory and was further reinforced by the recollection of images, place images, that represented things remembered (Perlman, 1988). 1 2 This is known as the Archytian Axiom and is cited by Simplicius in Commentary on Aristotle's Categories. I am quoting this statement as it appeared in Casey (1995:47). 15 place' may often trigger an identity crisis" (Buttimer, 1980:167). As I carried out my fieldwork I came to sense the power many places held in eliciting remembering and in triggering meaningful associations and experiences for Medellin city dwellers. This dissertation explores this relationship between people, memory and places, and it challenges current reductionisms and associations of the notion of place with physical space, geographical sites or traditional localities. The processes of de-territorialization and the growing conditions of exile, displacement and uprootedness for many in the world have been discussed in the literature on violence and on displacement and globalization (Appadurai, 1988; Gupta and Fergusson, 1997; Malkki, 1995; 1997).13 These two bodies of work have made an important contribution in challenging territorialized notions of culture, towards re-thinking the relationships between the local and the global in plural ways (e.g. virtual, electronic, diaspora, etc) and in understanding how place and identity are reconstructed in the lives of those who have been uprooted. However, the stress on mobility and displacement has erroneously been associated with the 'disappearance of the local' in the processes of identity construction (Cruces, 1997). In a similar vein, some problematic associations have been made between displacement and placelessness, or between the destruction of social and spatial referents (either due to globalization, displacement or violence) and societal transit into a condition of "non-places" in which places lose meaning and potency (Auge, 1992; Montoya, 1996). Places are not mere physical 1 3 Chapter six discusses the literature on place, deterritorialization and globalization. Literature exploring the links between people and place can be found in a variety of fields that include studies on nationalism and nation formation (Anderson, 1992; Guha, 1983; Gupta, 1997; Fergusson, 1997; Radcliffe and Westwood, 1996), on local and regional landscapes, and on local knowledge and nature (Descola and Paisson, 1996). 16 containers, they are containers of lived experience and memories, and in this sense, sensual and mnemonic. Amidst disorientation (and material chaos), uprootedness and displacement, places— as lived, remembered and imagined realms- appear to provide a sense of continuity and coherence to Medellin's city dwellers. In Medellin, I observed how multiple forms of violence threatened fundamental aspects of the everyday life through the destruction of material and physical places, the imposition of new boundaries and barriers, and the displacement of people from their homes or from the places where they gather and socialize. Violence threatens the very basis of the experience of being in place by forcing individuals into situations in which they encounter themselves "out of place" or disoriented: a situation that occurs with the destruction of felt landmarks within the city they inhabit, the loss of lives and of their ways of relating with each other. But it was also at this interstice between memory, place and violence, that I re-discovered the power of places. Places continued to elicit remembering and to give meaning to everyday life; they also continue to exist as remembered and symbolic places even when the physical landmarks have disappeared. In this thesis, I challenge current understandings and approaches to violence and place that disregard the placed nature of our experiences and memories. Violence M y concern with the cultural dimensions of violence shaped my ethnographic focus on the lived experience of Medellin city dwellers. M y focus is not on one form of violence — political, domestic or drug related — but on the ways that multiple forms of violence impact the daily life of city dwellers and their plural and transcendent 17 responses: resistance, resilience, grief, pain, humour, irony (Kleinman and Kleinman, 1996). M y approach to violence links up with a growing body of anthropological work known as "ethnographies of violence." This body of work examines questions about the formative, performative and phenomenological dimensions of violence, and poses fundamental questions about human nature and the meaning of humanity in the face of a worldwide spread of violent conflicts and systemic terror (Jenkins, 1998; Robben and Nordstrom, 1995). Pointing to the absence of the experiential and subjective dimensions in most analyses on violence, these authors place their ethnographies and the ethnographer in the context of violence. Their approach takes distance from essentialist and singular understandings of violence that neglect to see how violence enters into the most fundamental features of people's lives. Although my work builds on these criticisms, it articulates a critique about the positioning of these anthropologists who define their anthropological task as one of a witness-emissary (I develop this idea in Chapter two). My work builds on three central premises, which provide the framework for the analysis I develop in this dissertation: . First, violence and the ways it is experienced in daily life can not be reduced to the spaces of death and destruction; it needs to be analyzed in the human and socio-cultural dimensions of living and reconstruction (Robben and Nordstrom, 1995, Warren, 1993). The focus of my fieldwork is in the examination of the "lived experience" of violence, on the ways people go about their daily lives and on their creative and strategic responses (Nordstrom, 1995). . Second, violence is a socially and culturally constructed manifestation of complex and plural dimensions of human existence. Questions about violence, therefore, need 18 to move away from functionalist understandings of violence as a feature of human behaviour and societies, and place violence in the realm of human agency and culture (Aretxaga, 1997; Jenkins, 1998; Feldman, 1995). . Third, violence is a contested and multidimensional field where competing paradigms, ideologies, ethics, memories and forms of power intersect and are negotiated. It is necessary to analyze the plurality and complexity of the forms of violence and to recognize the conflicting interests and divisions within social groups and societies (Stern, 1991; Rivera-Cusicanqui, 1993). These premises are the basis of my exploration of the cultural dimensions of violence through a study of the memory practices of Medellin's city dwellers. I highlight the notion of agency to stress that independent of the "spread," "extent," "regularity" or "intensity" of violence, human beings (as subjects vested with agency) make sense out of experiences that are profoundly dehumanizing and denigrating, and are able to re-create the flow of everyday experience (Kleinman and Kleinman, 1996). From this perspective of human agency, my work confronts the literature on anthropology and violence that applies concepts such as "cultures of terror" and "fear" to describe the experience of Latin American populations (Taussig, 1992; Green, 1995). In approaching violence as a lived experience, I strive to understand how individuals and collectives accommodate their strategies and cultural practices when faced with the ambiguity and uncertainties of their living conditions (Warren, 1993). I try to understand the referential forces that shape their every day lives (Scheper-Hughes, 1992). These questions place the individual at the centre of the reflection and assist me in challenging binary or bipolar characterizations of those who are involved or affected by 19 the violent conflicts as either victims or aggressors. I stress the complex and shifting subject positions when individuals are faced with the realities of death, destruction, pain, and terror and approach human agency and cultural activity as contradictory and continuously shifting (Guha 1983; Prakash, 1994). The transformation, reorganization or at times "disappearance" of daily life because of violence also brings a reorganization of the sensorial worlds and new ways through which individuals struggle to give meaning to their lives. In this regard, I am concerned with the transformations taking place in the perception and universe of meanings of the city dwellers: how are the city dwellers of Medellin representing and constructing meaning out of their experiences of displacement, terror and suffering? (Warren, 1993) This interrogation about the sensorial worlds and violence is also linked to the field of knowledge, to the ways people reflect and transform their experience into a local knowledge. I examine the knowledge practices of the city dwellers in their daily life and explore the practices, experiences, and emotions that become vehicles of knowledge and cultural survival (Battaglia, 1995). This dissertation draws from a body of work on "violence" by Colombian scholars. This body of scholarship known locally as violentologia [violentology] has made a significant contribution to the historical analysis of contemporary violence and towards addressing the regional diversity, the systems of social cohesion, and the spatial and socio cultural expressions of the violent conflicts in the country (Gonzalez, 1993; 1994; Jimeno, 1993; Sanchez, 1992). The work of "violentologists" analyzes the structural, political and institutional mediations of the violent conflict in Colombia. In 20 particular, this body of work generates a type of scholarship that connects to national socio-political debates on violence and peace, human rights and pacific co-existence (Comision de Estudios, 1987; Palacios, 1997; Zambrano, 1994).14 Although a concern about the relationship between culture and violence has been present in this scholarship, there have been very few ethnographic studies conducted on the lived experience of violence and little reflection on the cultural dimensions of violence (Blair, 1998). There is a growing call to conduct this kind of study (Roldan and Jimeno, 1996). This dissertation deals with the memory practices through which the experience of violence is re-created, and not directly with violence itself; furthermore, it throws light on the relationship between memories, violence and the formation and re-configuration of cultural identities. It is intended as a contribution to the Colombian dialogue on violence and culture, and to a wider international discussion within anthropology and other disciplines, on human agency and the interplay of culture and memory in violent conflicts. Outlines The remaining chapters of the thesis present the research methodology and ethnographic findings. Chapter two describes my approach to the task of studying the 1 4 Colombian academics in fields as varied as political science, history, sociology, communications and anthropology have been actively involved in the thinking and reflection of social policies and alternatives for peace and democratisation since the late 1950s. There have been two government sponsored Commissions of violence (the first one in the 1960s and the second in 1987) that have carried out extensive consultation and research on the dynamics and causes of violence in the country. 21 memory practices of Medellin's city dwellers and the methodological framework that supported my research. In this chapter I introduce the social groups I worked with and the specific research methods and instruments applied during my fieldwork. The use of methods that incorporate verbal and visual art forms is discussed within a description of the dynamics that took place when I applied these methods in the memory workshops and group sessions I conducted. The chapter discusses the use of group and interactive methodologies for the study of memory and violence, the dialogic potential of tools such as memory workshops, and the premises that guided my positioning as an anthropologist in the field. I make my ethical stance and subject positioning in regards to the study of violence and on issues of ethnographic authority and voice clear. My central argument is that the problematics of anthropological authority, voice and gaze need to be faced at the level of praxis, attending to the practices of doing research and the contributions that the research can make to the social processes we study. Chapter three introduces a historical overview of Colombia and Medellin through the lens of the history of one barrio (neighbourhood) in Medellin. This chapter provides a general outlook of the dynamics of social conflict, violence, history and culture in Colombia and the key historical changes that have taken place in the last seventy-five years. The history of the barrio is followed as a means of outlining significant events on a local, regional, national and international level, and of highlighting how local histories and processes unveil wider social trends and can provide the clues necessary for understanding macro social processes. Chapters four to seven present and discuss my ethnographic findings. The two connecting concepts that ground the analysis of the relationship between people, memory 22 and violence are the formation of a "sense of place" and of "communities of memory" among Medellin city dwellers. These chapters develop these two concepts. Chapter four focuses on an ethnographic account of the cultural practices by which places are rendered meaningful in Medellin. It looks at how places are constructed and vested with significance by Medellin's city dwellers. The chapter describes practices of place making such as place naming, imagining, landmarking, and dwelling. The chapter stresses the powerful, sensual and rich relationships between people, memories and places and argues about the significance of a sense of place in the daily life of Medellin's city dwellers. It discusses the ways that violence has marked and re-inscribed places with new meanings and the ways that city dwellers struggle to invest these places with significance. The chapter locates place as a central axis of the ethnographic analysis and highlights the potential of studying the relationships between people and places as a way of understanding the complexity of the cultural dynamics and transformations taking place in communities impacted by widespread forms of violence. Chapter five discusses the concept of communities of memory through the description of unique types of oral narratives and memory practices organized around death and the dead. It argues that in Medellin death and the dead have an oral history. The chapter describes the narrative forms of this oral history, the ways that death is remembered as an event, and some of the genres of this local history. The discussion on agency and human suffering and the ways memory prompts city dwellers to action is advanced in this chapter. I emphasize that the oral history of death has a place in the daily life of Medellin's city dwellers by documenting the magnitude of human losses, and 23 providing outlets for the community to explore emotions, come together, and restore a sense of dignity. Chapter six addresses the practices of territoriality and use of the space by Medellin's city dwellers as a way to further explore the relationship between people, memory and violences. The practices of territoriality and circulation in and through the city are described here as practices of place making that are continuously re-defined by the uncertainty and unpredictability of the violent social context. The chapter describes the territorial transformations taking place in Medellin, the walking and travelling practices in the city, and the ways an implicit local knowledge guides city dwellers and assists them in the creation of geographical distinctions for a safer circulation and use of social spaces. The chapter advances the discussion on place, deterritorialization and global processes while engaging in an examination of the relationship between territory, social groups and cultural identities. More specifically, it discuses how youth involved in the violent conflict construct a sense of otherness through practices of territoriality. Chapter seven examines the modes by which Medellin's urban dwellers constitute themselves as subjects of their actions. The discussion in this chapter is carried out as an ethical interrogation and reviews some of the cultural referents under which Medellin's city dwellers constitute themselves as subjects. Figures such as the martyr and the amazons are discussed to illustrate local cultural constructions. The chapter also discusses some of the local cultural constructions of otherness, and the ways that city dwellers position themselves as subjects in their remembering acts, in their movement and circulation through the city. Throughout the chapter I highlight the contested and shifting 24 subject positions of Medellin's city dwellers and the dilemmas they encounter in facing experiences of death, terror, and survival. 25 Chapter Two Methodological Memories M y fieldwork took place in the city of Medellin between September 1996 and December 1997.11 carried out the fieldwork with the support of a local non-governmental organization named Corporacion Region. Region provided me with office space, a stimulating environment for debate, and a vital source of information about the social and cultural dynamics of the city of Medellin and the national context.2 Through Corporacion Region I established the relations and contacts that allowed me to progress in my fieldwork. M y fieldwork took me across the city of Medellin through the North Eastern, Central Eastern, and South Western zones of the city (see Map # 4), and through schools, homes, non-governmental organizations, and community organizations. I worked with a large and diverse number of residents of Medellin, taking as a focus for my research youth, women and community leaders. The analytical focus of my work was the memory practices of these residents of Medellin. This chapter describes the 11 carried out research in the cities of Bogota and Medellin with the purpose of establishing comparisons among the two largest Colombian cities. By the time I finished my fieldwork and began organizing the information, I realized the daunting task waiting for me in terms of organizing the extensive fieldwork material, the hundreds of hours taped, discussions and interviews, and the research documentation. My committee members pointed this out to me, and to my despair I abandoned rich and suggestive field material, and focused my dissertation on the city of Medellin. The material I collected in Medellin was more extensive and in-depth, and certainly, this material can provide valuable insights and be extrapolated to other realities and research settings. 2 Corporacion Region develops educational, communications, research and organizing projects in Antioquia. The organization works in the areas of human rights, justice and conflict resolution, urban policies, and social and cultural research. I met several Region workers between 1983-1986 when I worked with the Centre of Social Research and Popular Education (CINEP) in Bogota and was conducting participatory research on popular culture and communication practices in Medellin. During the time I spent in Region, their research unit was working on a project about political culture and conflict in Medellin. The dialogue and exchange with the three researchers of this unit has inspired many of my reflections. 26 methodological approach that supported my research on memory, violence and place. It discusses the ways I positioned myself as an anthropologist going back home to carry out research on memory and violence, and afterwards as an ethnographer coming back "home" to write a dissertation. In the introduction of this dissertation I describe my work as an anthropology of remembering. I studied the remembering and forgetting practices of Medellin residents with the aim of drawing conclusions about the ways city dwellers make sense of their daily life in a society deeply affected by multiple forms of violence. Memory, in this regard, was at the centre of my ethnographic exploration, but it also indicates the methodological approach I took in exploring the cultural dynamics of violence. The relationship that informs my research and methodological approach is that of memory and cultural identity : how remembering and forgetting are the sustaining practices of an individual's sense of belonging to a group, community or nation, of his/her uniqueness and differences. Remembering and forgetting are not passive acts of purely psychological or natural essence; they are mediated by human activity. Remembering and forgetting are activities in which all human beings engage. This engagement with the past, from the present, is part and parcel of the creation of our sense of who we are, of our identities. It is through the ways that we remember and forget that we construct ourselves as individuals and as members of a collectivity. I argue here that the study of the memory practices of Medellin city dwellers provides a significant body of material with which to examine the cultural dynamics of violence. This argument explains my methodological choice of taking as a unit of analysis the memory practices of Medellin city dwellers. 27 The idea and decision to engage in an anthropology of remembering was also informed by my past field experiences.3 Since I began planning my research, it was clear to me that I did not want to study violence by engaging in an ethnography of violence. I did not try to explain the causes of the violent conflict in Colombia or try to deconstruct it. I did not ask questions about violence or cultural identity, but about what people remembered as key events, images, dates, individuals or stories of their everyday life. My expectation was that the way memories were evoked and constructed would suggest how violence impacts their everyday lives. A syntax of memory would provide significant clues to examine how violence is [or is not] reshaping their ways of defining themselves as members of collectivities, as inhabitants of a barrio, a city and a nation. The topic of violence poses acute ethical problems for my fieldwork and my writing. I struggle with various issues in order to: a) challenge a voyeuristic stance with respect to violence; b) avoid the exoticizing of violence in Colombia and the peoples who suffer it for the consumption of a (mostly academic) North American audience; and c) continue to be responsible and accountable to the people I worked with in Colombia. I have a clear personal standpoint about the "ugliness" and "dirtiness" of war and violence, about the social and emotional impact it has on our lives. The senselessness and terror of 3 My previous field research in Colombia had explored questions about cultural identity, social movements and popular cultures. My MA thesis on the sources of cultural identity among street youth, provided rich material for exploring youth subcultures as expressions of both cultural resistance and cultural complicity with dominant and mass mediated culture. In the 1990s, I recognized a serious gap between my research focus and methods and the dynamics of social conflict and violence in the country. In the 1990s the "same" youth I had been studying, became key agents in the violence that spread through the country as members of the gangs of hired assassins and militias. I drafted my dissertation research plan while questioning my own "ability" to perceive the shifts taking place in the country, and my own research politics of representation and location. A similar questioning has been taking place regionally by anthropologists who witnessed how those who had been subjects of their studies on cultural renovation, resistance and identity were at the very centre of the violence that was taking place in countries such as Peru (Rivera-Cusicanqui, 1990). 28 the many wars that affect Colombia do not call for any heroic or romantic epics. I expand on this consideration in this chapter with the help of the concept of praxis. Through the lens of praxis, I explore issues of the subject position of the anthropologist. I specifically interrogate the resolutions to the issues of social responsibility, power and voice in relation to the subjects and the realities studied, and in relation to the academic community and the writing audiences. The "Field" This is an ethnography of how people remembered when they came together during a memory workshop or group interview and how memories were brought forward in the various everyday situations I observed. In Medellin, I worked with people from three different local areas of the city and with groups like public school teachers and youth workers who live and work across the entire city. M y research field, in its broadest term, was the city of Medellin. The field, however, did not encompass the city in its geographical totality or as an abstract social construction, but rather as a place lived in by the subjects. I considered the mediation of the individuals' singularities: their place of residence, social class, generation and gender, their social activities and affiliations. As I took into consideration the diverse elements that shape the lived experience of the individuals in the city, the geographical and symbolic borders of the city would change according to the subject and the ways they used and inhabited the city. Accordingly, "the field" was in some cases concretely located in sites such as a barrio's block, while in others, "the field" included the city as a whole. In other cases, the field could not be 29 spatially located but it referred to a specific social group or a time period. In summary, my field was the city of Medellin as lived in and remembered by its residents. Through out this dissertation, I use the term city dwellers as a way to name those who live, use and sense the city for their daily activities. Dwelling, as formulated by Keith Basso (1997:106), "assigns importance to the forms of consciousness with which individuals perceive and apprehend the geographical space. More precisely, dwelling is said to consist of the multiple 'lived relations' that people maintain with places, for it is solely by virtue of these relationships that spaces acquire meanings." The qualifying concept I have used to define the subjects of my research is that of dwelling. Dwelling as a human action, stresses the embodied presence of city dwellers in the environment of the city and the ways they inhabit and use it. Actors and sites I approached the individuals, groups and communities who became the subjects of this study through the community workers and researchers of Corporation Region. Once Region's workers were informed of my goals and research plan, they approached me and suggested possibilities of doing memory workshops4 and group sessions. Some of the research interactions lasted the time of a workshop (from four hours to a day or two) while others took me into an in-depth and intense interaction over several months. In all of these scenarios, my method was ethnographic. 4 The memory workshops as a research strategy are discussed at length later in this chapter. I use the term to encompass a gathering in which a group of participants interact and engage in remembering through the use of verbal and visual art forms. Workshops lasted from four hours to one-two days. I also refer to group sessions to describe group meetings that took place after the intensive workshop and that lasted two or three hours. The methods used in these sessions were the same as in the workshops but they were more informal. 30 I focussed on youth, women and community leaders because according to regional researchers (Martin-Barbero, 1998; Wills, 1999) they are key actors in the landscape of social movements and critical social issues in Colombia. My research addressed the intersections of gender, generation and social roles in the cultural dynamics of violence and the focus on these groups contributed to this exploration. Jesus Martin-Barbero (1998) highlights how in the last two decades in Colombia, new social actors have mapped out new forms of political action, of "living together" and of inhabiting the city. Martin-Barbero points out that the vigorous presence of women, youth, and civic movements challenged a 'supposedly' national history when they reclaimed their right to their memory and self-representation. In the following section, I describe the individuals, groups and communities I worked with and the type of work carried out with them. Youth Houses. The youth houses [casas juveniles] originated as a project of the first Presidential Office of Medellin. In 1990, the youth houses began providing social, economic and cultural programs for youth at risk and involved in violent actions. The youth unit of Region showed interest in applying the design and process I followed in the memory workshops to the task of systematizing their community work with the youth houses. I participated in and facilitated some of the sessions they organized, and also conducted an extended memory workshop with members of four of these youth houses. Three of the youth who participated in this workshop led me on walkabouts of the zone and shared several informal sessions and reflections on the cultural and social dynamics 31 and history of the zone. 5 The participants during the sessions with the youth houses consisted of men and women whose ages ranged from sixteen to the late twenties. Convivamos. I carried out a memory workshop with the workers and volunteers of Convivamos, a local non-governmental organization of the North Eastern zone.6 For the organization, the workshop was an opportunity to look back on their work and their memories as residents of this zone. One of the workers in this organization led me on two walkabouts through the zone. The four youth houses and the NGO are located in the North eastern zone of Medellin (See Map #4). This zone is located north-east of the downtown sector of the city. It is made of four communes and fifty-five barrios. The settlement process of the barrios of the North Eastern zone occurred predominately during the 1970s and 1980s through illegal urbanization and invasion [squatter settlements] by mainly rural immigrants. There is also some private development within the zone. Geographically, the zone's most distinctive feature is its location in the foothills and its steep topography. The zone houses nearly twenty five per cent (25%) of the poorest population of the city. Currently, several new squatter settlements of internally displaced people have been located in high risk areas of this zone (Naranjo, 1992; Secretaria de Bienestar Social, 1996). 5 Medellin is divided into six urban zones and sixteen communes. A zone includes an area of several barrios from various social and economic levels. A commune is a division of the zone that includes barrios of similar social and economic levels (Diagnostico Social de Medellin, 1996). Map #3 shows these divisions. 6 Residents of this zone, particularly of the barrios of Villa del Socorro, Moscu and La Salle founded this non-governmental organization. The organization promotes community organizing with youth, women, children and co-operative, health and peace initiatives in the zone. 32 Barrio Antioquia. Corporacion Region joined another local non governmental organization, Corporacion Presencia Colombo-Suiza in a project to construct a "barrio's history" in barrio Antioquia (see Map # 4). Corporacion Presencia was supporting the peace process among this barrio's gangs and promoted training, educational and employment initiatives. I assumed the responsibility of carrying out this project of the barrio's history. Given barrio Antioquia's tense climate when we began the project, it was decided to work separately with five groups in the community - a youth group, two groups of women from the barrio's training centre, the community organization, and a group of ex-gang members. With each one of these groups, we worked towards recovering memories of significant experiences and events in the barrio and the city. Each group created a "memory product" that was presented in a final session in which all of the groups and many other community residents met and shared their memories and findings concerning the history of the barrio. I transcribed the stories collected during the memory sessions and organized them chronologically and thematically into a booklet of anecdotes [anecdotarid] that was left with the community. Two members of the youth group became my research assistants.7 Youth Group "Wayfarers." This youth group from the Central Eastern zone of Medellin approached me with the idea of conducting memory workshops that would allow them to look at their history and decide their future as a group. Approximately 7 My research assistants were Diana, a mother in her thirties and Sebastian a young man in his early twenties. Diana and Sebastian were both very knowledgeable about the barrio's social dynamics and recognized as neutral individuals and social leaders. They helped me collect specific historical information about the barrio and map the various social groups and gangs through the history of the barrio. They both carried out formal and informal, individual and group interviews. Sebastian also drafted several maps of the barrio locating the places of gathering and meeting of the various social groups (see Maps # 5 and 6). 33 fifteen youth participated in the memory sessions. I carried out two group sessions and one memory workshop with them. The Central eastern zone is located east of the city's downtown area. It is divided into three communes, and has a total of forty five barrios (see map # 4). The settlement process of these barrios took place mainly during the 1970s and 1980s by illegal urbanization and squatter settlements. During the 1920s and 30s some barrios were settled by private development. Geographically the distinctive element of this zone is its location at the foothills and its steep topography (Naranjo, 1992). In the late 1990s, mostly internally displaced people have founded new squatter settlements in the zone. I carried out three extended walkabouts in this zone led by a local youth leader and attended activities organized by the youth groups and community organizations of the zone. I also carried out memory workshops and group sessions with three other groups of city dwellers. I met with a group of twenty seven youth workers from governmental and non governmental organizations of Medellin and its metropolitan area and I carried out a workshop for thirty high school teachers from Medellin's metropolitan area. In both cases, participants were eager to assist and were interested in learning about the use of memory methods and tools that would enrich their work. I also participated in a workshop on "political action" with the members of a civic committee of the North western zone of Medellin (see Map # 4). They asked me to facilitate one component of their workshop in which they remembered their past experiences with political activism. 34 In each one of the research interactions there was a "trade-off." The individuals would agree to work with me generally because there was an outcome, a process and a reflection that would contribute to their activities. Overall, my invitation to work with memory was received positively in the local and national context.81 heard from many individuals and groups that "memory" was a crucial topic for them as it framed much of Colombia's political and cultural life. The intents of the armed actors and dominant forces to control or erase the memory of specific groups (e.g. internally displaced people) indicated the risks posed to these people's knowledge of the past and the disputed nature of the practices of memory in Colombia. The right to memory has also emerged as a vital means for the cultural and social revival of indigenous groups,9 Afro-Colombians, and internally displaced people. Furthermore, human right groups addressed forgetting, suppression and the lack of avenues for elaborar los duelos [collective mourning] as central components of the crisis of human rights in the country (Fundacion Manuel Cepeda, 1998). The politics of compromise and negotiation were crucial in defining how I went about doing the research. I went to the field with the assumption that my research should be useful and contribute to the communities and research subjects. The model of action research, with which I had past experience, was not applicable in this context because the main purpose and direction of my research was mostly driven by the demands of a Ph.D. I carried out several workshops with many other organizations, community groups, universities and the National Anthropology Institute. The stress of these workshops was on the methodological component. 9 Joanne Rappaport (1994) documents how the Cumbales Indians in Colombia resorted to their topographic memory and their historical knowledge to generate a successful political strategy in their land claims. dissertation.10 My approach to the dilemma of the social "use" and contribution of my research to the subject and communities was resolved at the methodological and research level in the pragmatics of how I did research. The workshops were designed to ensure that by the end of the sessions participants would have knowledge of how to apply some of the methods used. I also insisted that they use or take the workshop products - maps, albums, booklets, and the transcriptions of the sessions. I spent many hours discussing the kind of workshop that could be more useful to them. As part of my preparation for each workshop and group process, I did walkabouts in the zones, became familiar with the group's history or interests, carried out participant observation of activities, events and daily routines, and collected documentation. The Research Methods and Instruments Like sailing, gardening, politics and poetry, law and ethnography are crafts of place: they work by the light of local knowledge - Clifford Geertz. Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretative Anthropology. I worked with a variety of verbal and visual forms that allowed me to explore the multiple embodied and sensory dimensions of the practices of remembering and forgetting and the ways that memories are actualized in everyday life. I relied on a combination of methods inspired by the work of oral historians and researchers of the verbal and visual arts. Ruth Finnegan (1992) uses the term verbal arts to include verbal 1 0 My research integrated several elements that characterize a participatory action research process (e.g. the combination of social investigation, educational work and action), but it could not be defined as such because participants did not have control over the overall process of the research and the research problem was not identified by the community (Hall, 1981; Tandom, 1997). 36 expressions such as folktales, proverbs, legends, riddles, songs and poems, and verbal processes such as naming or rhetoric. The definition "verbal arts" stresses the aesthetic feature of these forms which Finnegan also characterizes as verbal artistry. In my work, I stressed the performance aspects of these forms in the acts of remembering and the embodiment of these expressions. I included the "visual arts" to describe plastic and visual expressions such as drawings, photographs (from the viewpoint of an image that is framed by an individual) and quilts. I used these forms to elicit remembering. On other occasions, I observed and recorded how these forms were used in the social interactions of the city dwellers. The application of these methods within a study concerned with memory and lived experience linked my reflection and methodological exploration with the theoretical contributions of an anthropology of the senses (Seremetakis, 1994; Stoller, 1995). Such literature informed my work and my understanding of how mnemonic processes are intertwined with the sensory order in such a manner as to render each perception a re-perception. That is to say, memories are stored in "everyday items that create and sustain our relationship to the historical as sensory dimension" (Seremetakis, 1994:9). In my fieldwork, I attended to many senses that allowed me to consider the embodied and placed dimensions of the memory practices and the interplay of tactile, sonic and visual senses in the lived experience of Medellin's city dwellers (Feld, 1996; Stoller, 1995).u 1 1 The link between the senses and historical interpretation is highlighted by Seremetakis (1994). The senses act as witnesses or record keepers of the material experience and constitute a collective medium of communication. Consequently, Seremetakis defines memory as "a distinct meta-sense that transports, bridges and crosses all the other senses. Yet memory is internal to each sense, and the senses are as divisible and indivisible from each other as each memory is separable and intertwined with others" (Seremetakis, 1994:9) 37 Two research instruments, memory workshops and walkabouts, were the central pillars of my ethnographic work and participant observation. Walkabouts As my research alternated between geographical, social and mnemonic fields, I carried out several extended walkabouts with the purpose of locating myself in the city environment. The walkabouts were one of my main ethnographic tools for exploring the sensorial dimensions of walking and travelling in the city, for understanding the restrictions of circulation in and through the city and the local constructions of place and landscape. The walkabouts also located me within the specific environments and social dynamics of the city of Medellin. The walkabouts were in and through specific areas of Medellin and I was always led by residents who took me to the places and through the circulation routes that they considered significant in their own experience and for the local communities. We walked, for example, through streets, alleys and trails that were part of their daily circulation routes, we visited and heard stories of the places they considered significant within their lived experiences or that had local historical significance, and we recognized those landmarks in the landscape and soundscape that evoked stories, memories, or specific events for the guides. It was during walkabouts through various sectors of the city of Medellin that I came to recognize the mnemonic and sensorial power that places hold and began to document the prolific relationships between people and places. In Medellin, stories dwell in parks, bars and corner stores; they circulate through streets and avenues and are organized in reference to key mnemonic landmarks such as billboards, buildings, ravines or hills. I learnt in these walkabouts how memories are bound to place, and how they 38 dwell in natural and urban landscapes, in local site and chronological referents and in sensorial and biographical environments. It is also within place and territorial references, that Medellin's city dwellers can best describe the tangible presence of violence in their lives. It is in the immediacy of the "here" or in the not so far "there," that I learnt about the places and stories of death, the marks of violence on material structures and physical bodies, and about the areas of prohibited circulation. Violence dwells and circulates in the street, the block or people's homes, operating as a displacing and segregating force. These walkabouts were crucial for my apprehension and recognition of the geographic and spatial organization of these areas and, very importantly, of the acoustic, historical and visual environment in which the memories of city dwellers were set. They became a major tool for recognizing the geographic and social dynamics of an area in the city, for contextualizing the stories and memories I heard during the memory workshops, and for reflecting upon the relationship between memory, place and violence. In chapter four, five and six I describe in detail some of these walkabouts and provide examples of the relationships and experiences of place that were highlighted by these walkabouts. In total I carried out ten walkabouts, three of them in the central eastern zone, two in the north eastern zone, three in barrio Antioquia and its neighbouring areas, and two across the city of Medellin. The Memory Workshops Stillness is the moment when the buried, the discarded, and the forgotten escape to the social surface of awareness like life-supporting oxygen. It is the moment of exit from the historical dust. Nadia Seremetakis - The Memory of the Senses. 39 The "memory workshop" consisted of a group session in which participants engaged in a series of interactive activities. Each individual participated in telling stories and evoking memories, in the elaboration of maps, photo albums, or visual biographies, and in the discussion and reflection on their past memories and the "politics" of remembering. They did so in interaction with others, sharing for example popular music that evoked crucial personal or group experiences, sharing memories attached to their personal objects, or their critical reflections about the history of their community.12 The remembering of significant life events in the city of Medellin in a group context triggered a multitude of actions: silence, laughter, sadness, awe, bodily reactions like dance, crying and engaged discussions. In general an individual story became a trigger of many other stories and of an active sensorial and emotional exchange. Each story deepened individual and group reflections and brought back forgotten memories or other experiences lived by the participants and with this a collective conversation emerged. Memories that emerged from the "historical dust" became the centre of a lively group exchange and of the ways each group re-created their individual and collective memories (Garcia-Canclini, Castellanos and Rosas, 1996; Seremetakis, 1994). I used the "memory workshop" as a spatial and temporal context in which a variety of forms from the verbal and visual arts were applied. In total, I carried out twelve memory workshops and thirty group sessions in which approximately three hundred people participated and hundreds of hours were taped. When the individuals came together for a workshop, they temporarily established a network of relationships and circulated meanings. The use of a variety of verbal and visual forms activated a lively 1 2 Most of the workshops lasted a day and some were overnight sessions. In some cases, the workshop was divided in two or three session of three/four hours each. 40 exchange of story telling and performance, and created a shared sensorial environment. In this section, I outline some of the key elements that define the workshop as an ethnographic realm and as a spatial and temporal context that can activate a dialogical and reflexive interaction among participants.13 Group and interactive methodologies such as the workshops are not common among anthropologists and consequently there has not been much reflection on the use of these methods. More specifically, the workshop as a realm of research interaction and as a social event has rarely been an object of anthropological reflection.14 From my viewpoint, this lack of reflection is paradoxical given that ethnography requires much interaction and participation in group situations. I start from the characterization of the workshop as an object of empirical, intellectual and social attention. I begin by describing a scene from a workshop. It is June 23,1997. In a place known as "Chaquiro," twenty-three people have gathered into a room of a building that as its roof has the bridge used by residents, cars, buses, motorbikes and trucks to circulate in the North Eastern zone of Medellin. The noise of the traffic, mixed with the din of the children's voices and the musical background of several radios, creates an acoustic environment for the memory workshop that is taking place "under the bridge." The group of people gathered here is composed of men and women who live in the area and who 1 3 As with any other research method, the dialogical and reflective potential of the memory workshop is mediated by the social and cultural context and by the researcher's knowledge, skills and ability to use and apply the method. In the workshop, facilitation skills and knowledge of group dynamics are required for the individual who takes on the facilitation role. Additionally, listening and observing are highly demanding tasks given the group set up. My experience as a facilitator (of workshops, meetings, seminars) during the past seventeen years assisted me in assuming the role of facilitator and observer. My past experience and knowledge of popular education, anti-racism, action-research, and interactive facilitation methods helped me greatly. 1 4 The characterization of the memory workshop I develop here is inspired by: Garcia-Canclini and Rosas (1996); Ghiso (1997); Ibanez (1986); Reguillo (1996), and Riafio-Alcala (1999). 41 / work or volunteer with a local non governmental organization. After locating the places that are vested with personal meaning and experiences on a large map of the zone, we work towards creating a visual biography that traces "the life" of their work in the zone. There are eight pieces of flipchart paper taped to the walls. I invite the participants to visualize and illustrate on the paper their memory of an event, image, date or person that has been significant to them. Each participant stands in front of the sheets of paper and works in the elaboration of drawings or the writing of words or symbols that evoke their memory. The voices and laughs of some mix with the silence of others. Blanca, does not join the group but takes a piece of flipchart paper and goes to a table. She draws something at the table and once she has finished she keeps her piece of paper facing down so the others cannot see its contents. When asked to show her work, she refuses and announces that "it is a surprise." When everyone has finished, each participant tells about the memory behind his or her image or words. We hear about the "week for peace," sports events, the killing of friends and relatives, their group retreats, and their encounters with the militias and the gangs. There are memories of an influential priest who was part of the Liberation Theology movement, of hikes to the majestic hills, and of the creeks and slopes of the area. The group is very engaged and as participants remember they burst into laughter, ahas! oh yeses!! and sudden silences. A history full of anecdotes, places, names, reflections, warm memories and sad memories begins to be crafted collectively. After ten participants have spoken, Blanca stands up and walks to the front of the room with her flipchart paper and waits for our full attention and eye contact. While keeping eye contact with the rest of the group, she flips her paper around with a big smile on her face and silently shows her drawing of two faces. Under these faces the 42 words "founders" and "leaders" are written. At that moment, Blanca remembers the two individuals who were "great charismatic leaders" but "unfortunately do not exist any more ... they were wonderful." During these moments, the group's silence, smiles, secrecy, and Blanca's performance and narrative emphasis evoked a shared collective memory from this group. This was a dialogic moment in which the dialogue taking place was between the participants who knew the story rather than with the researcher. This vignette of the workshop under the bridge reminds us that when individuals remember within a group situation (a family, group of friends, as members of a society or fraternity, or in a workshop) other practices take place: negotiation, censorship, silences, disagreements. At the same time, the participants' bodies, emotions, and performances are brought together to temporarily form a "community of praxis" (Reguillo, 1996; Lave and Wenger, 1991). Although Blanca's narrative was brief, it contained a story known to all of them and understood only by those familiar with it. Furthermore, the story's emotional charge can only be understood by taking into account what her memories communicate: the absence of one of the leaders because he was killed and the group's collective forgetting of the conflict that divided these two leaders. This exchange illustrates the type of spatial and group interactions and emotional responses that can take place during a memory workshop. The memory workshop constitutes a process of production because there is a "learning by doing" and by the creation of tangible results (e.g. there are products such as the visual biography on the wall, or the quilts or photo albums). There is also a production of knowledge when narratives are exchanged, view points are shared, meaning 43 is negotiated and interpretative consensus is reached. Like any other process of knowledge making, the knowledge produced during a workshop is situated and relational. The workshop is thus temporally and spatially located in a here and a now. It is mediated by the meeting space and length of the session during which the individuals informally agree to constitute themselves as a temporary group. This temporary group is constituted by subjects who are variously motivated to participate and who locate themselves in different degrees of emotional and social distance in relationship to the group and what happens in the workshop. During the workshop, there is a relational dynamic taking place between all of the participants with multiple possibilities: between participants sitting besides each other, or across from each other, amongst the group as a whole, between the small groups, with the researcher, etc. The relational dynamic and the formation of a temporary "we" includes the researcher who from her multiple roles and subject locations — facilitator, observer, interviewer, time keeper — becomes a point of reference for controlling time, organizing the use of the space (where the tables and chairs go), formulating questions and making decisions. In this ethnographic realm, the researcher-facilitator does not escape the exercise of a social authority. The ethnographic authority is constructed through the researcher's role as a point of reference and control. I argue that the workshop activates a dialogic exchange through the processes of production (people learn and remember by doing) and because of the decentered and multiple relationships that emerge among the subjects. The various possibilities for dialogue in a workshop are mediated, as in any other research interaction, by the power and the authority vested in each individual (social roles and hierarchies) and to the researcher. A network of relations between participants is temporary created in the workshop and participants in the workshop create a community of exchange and praxis while they circulate narratives and stories. Blanca's interaction with the group illustrates how a story can become a trigger for listening, the re-activating of memories and the construction of a group consensus, for the expression of disagreement or the enactment of specific discourses. The "collective conversation" that emerges during the workshop includes debates, moments of tension, negotiation and disagreement, shared emotions and forms of interaction that are characteristic of everyday social relations. The group dynamics surpass the controlled research interaction that might characterize a one-to-one interview or a survey. The memory workshop is situated in the realm of social and human interaction and constitutes a social event that can be subject of observation. Methods applied during the workshop Specifically the oral history and verbal and visual forms included in the workshop were: Mental maps. Individuals would initiate the drawing of a mental map by locating a local landmark (e.g. a statue, a street intersection, a plaza or a river) that was recognized by everyone in the group. This landmark was taken as a point of reference to draw a mental map that placed individual and group landmarks in the city environment as well as places that were vested with mnemonic meaning. The location of these places and the stories told by each individual came to illustrate the group's mental map of an area of the city or of the city as a whole. Although a degree of consensus could be reached about some of the key landmarks and their location, the exercise of the mental maps always 45 involved discussion and negotiation regarding the location or significance of specific landmarks and places and often sparked verbal or visual disagreements. The mental map captured the images and symbols that the individuals have of their environment, their spatial and sensorial location and their various perceptions of the surrounding (Lynch, 1960). The pioneer work of Lynch (1960) on the mental images of the city illustrated that when individuals move in their daily surroundings, they also use their capacity to symbolize. By engaging all their senses, experiences and memories, they elaborate their self-image of the space surrounding them. With this material, each individual constructs her own "invisible city," a mental blue print of place. Figure 1 Sample of a mental map Elaborated by a group of women in Barrio Antioquia 46 I used the mental maps as a mnemonic tool by which individuals located their significant memories of the city and/or identify the places that were meaningful in terms of their memories and lived experience. In the process of adding individuals' places and memories, the map became a group map and a visual representation that included individual and group images of the city or community mapped. Visual biographies: It consists of the tracing of a chart, graphic or image that represents "the life" of a particular phenomenon (e.g. violence, the youth houses), or a period in the life of a community (e.g. the 1990s). The visual biographies list key events and include the traces and images from the past that capture each individual's sense of history of, for example, their group, barrio or city (Slim and Thompson, 1995). To carry out a visual biography, I placed several pieces of blank flipchart paper on the walls. Participants were invited to draw, write or symbolize on the papers the key events, individuals, dates or moments that they considered significant in the life of a phenomenon or period. Figure 2 Sample of a visual biography Elaborated by youth from the North Eastern zone (Youth Houses) 47 Story-based interviews. The story-based interview is structured around telling and listening to stories with questions and interactions that are designed to assist individuals in remembering and telling their stories. This type of interviewing stresses the interactive nature of the interview exchange15 and their framing within the communication patterns of those interviewed (e.g. the consideration of gender, ethnic and generational differences in story telling) (Minister, 1991). During the workshops, individuals would interview each other and later shared with the group the stories they heard and told. Figure 3 Sample of a photo album Memory workshop with youth, barrio Popular II, North Eastern zone Feminist oral historians argue that to fully explore the possibilities of the oral history interview, a methodological shift is needed from "information gathering, where the focus is on the right questions, to interaction, where the focus is on process, on the dynamic unfolding of the subject's viewpoint" (Anderson and Jack, 1991:23). 48 Mnemonic artefacts and photographs. Personal and familiar objects and photographs were brought to the workshops to be shared with others and to create products such as photo albums. The intent was to explore the artefacts as memory forms (Seremetakis, 1994), the ways individuals re-construct their past and their cultural beliefs through the meaning and stories these objects convey, and the role of these objects in providing a sense of continuity in the individual's life (Radley, 1990). In looking at photographs, individuals engaged in "acts of recognition of the past" while the photographs offered them multiple possibilities to explore relationships between the past and the present (Holland, 1991). Sound recordings. I used music, particularly songs, as a mnemonic device to invite story telling and remembering. Sometimes participants would bring music to the workshop that had the power of bringing back memories. In other cases, I put together a tape with songs that, based on the specific generational, social and cultural make up of the group, could trigger remembering. I used popular music and I also invited participants to remember the sounds and noises that accompanied their memories of the past. This constituted a way to recognize the acoustic environment of the city dwellers and to ; further explore the sensorial grounds of their memory practices. A recognition of the sound and acoustic environment as constitutive of the ways individuals inhabit their environment and preserve memories guided me to include the acoustic dimension in an exploration of memory practices (Feld, 1996).16 1 6 Authors such as Feld (1996) and Stoller (1995) stress the multisensory character of perceptual experience. They are critical of Western concepts of landscape, and anthropological and geographic works on place that are dominated by visualism and neglect the embodied, tactile and sonic dimensions shaping a sense of place. Ethnographically, popular music occupies a central place in the daily life of Medellin's city dwellers. Music acts as a twenty-four hour acoustic environment and background, as locus of interaction 49 Memory quilts. Individuals were asked to remember a significant event in their lives and to do so by creating a mnemonic image with paper cut outs that were placed on a paper square that constituted the backing of their image. They engaged in the visual representation of the event thinking of it as a live painting: colours, mood, smells, textures, rhythm and forms. After each individual had created an image, they placed it in any point within the quilt and shared their memories. By the end of their story-telling there was a collective quilt that formed a type of collective story. Figure 4 Sample of a Memory Quilt Elaborated by youth workers from Medellin The collective story and visual image were created as a result of the multiple relationships taking place among the individual squares, the stories they evoked, and the and social exchanges. The lyrics and rhythm of songs constitute a link between feelings, lived experiences and ways of reflecting about the past. 50 patterns that emerged as images touched and related to each other (the individual images relate with the others vertically, horizontally, by contrast, by sharing a common border, by the diagonal movement, and as a whole). The contrasts and patterns created by the colours, shapes, textures and distance gave uniqueness and richness of the sensorial memories to the visual expression.17 One of my concerns during the memory workshops was that they should respond to the premise that memory practices are multi sensorial and that the research methods applied should include the following elements: a) Performative: the inscription of memory in the bodies, senses and performances of the individuals and in their emotions (Connerton, 1989); b) Oral: the ways memories are anchored in collective representations and contained in oral narratives, social practices and in the material world of artefacts; c) Communicative: the acting of memory as a semantic code that organizes the discourses about the past (Jewsiewicki, 1990); and d) Active: how memory can constitute a trigger to action, a mode of socio-cultural action (Rowe and Schelling, 1991). The inclusion of a variety of methods ensured that each one of these dimensions was addressed during the workshop. Each one of these research methods was used in the context of the group interaction that took place during the memory workshops and group sessions. The specific art or visual form did not solely determine the impact and consequences of using each one of these methods. The impact was also related to the use of each method within 1 71 learned of this technique in a workshop with the Oral History Centre of Boston (Cohen, 1983). A further reading of literature on African-American quilts provided me with a vision of the quilt as a collective art form that has been referred to as the visual equivalent of jazz. Like in a jazz composition, quilt making encourages improvisation, offbeat patterns in design and validates the uniqueness of each individual's expression while creating a collective product rich in colour, forms, and contrasting patterns (Dyer-Bennem, 1994). Several photographs of the memory quilts are included through out the dissertation. 51 a memory workshop in which specific group dynamics took place and a sequence of activities was followed. In what follows I introduce a reflection of the uses of these type of methods for a research on the memory practices of city dwellers. Reflections on Research as Praxis Humanistic holism is the essential fiction of ethnography. Kamala Visweswaran - Fictions of Feminist Ethnography. The research methods I applied constituted a substantial part of my research praxis but they did not encompass it entirely. In this section, I take a reflexive stance and look at the consequences of my methodological approach while locating the discussion of the methods in the larger context of my research praxis. I do not discuss the methods as isolated tools, abstractions or context free methods (Schratz and Walker, 1995). The ethnography carried and the methods applied were non-neutral interventions. Like any other research intervention, the research methods were framed by the power differentials between researcher and the research subjects. I began my research with the premise that there is not a single truth to be revealed and grasped through the researcher's skills, reliability of methods, or through methodological operations that produce "truth confessions", statistical systematicity, or scientific rigor and accuracy (Riano, 1999). My research praxis sprang from a recognition that during any research interaction, the researcher establishes multiple locations and relations with the research subjects that may 52 include betrayal, complicity, manipulation and the building of social relationships that surpass the researcher-subject relationship (Visweswaran, 1994). Methodological approach. The criterion of the reliability and feasibility of my methods was established in relationship to a broader methodological approach. My research methodology was built upon and evaluated in response to the following concerns: a) that the research methods should recognize the plural ways in which individuals and groups construct meaning; b) that the methodological approach should be sensitive to the diversity, fragmentarity and de-centering of the cultural and social dynamics taking place in a city like Medellin; and c) that the research methods should recognize and question the researcher's ethnographic authority and the privilege of academic knowledge and reflection (Jackson, 1996). The choice of locating my research praxis within wider social links concerned with the contribution of the research to the research subjects and to other debates outside the strictly academic circle responded to these methodological premises. My research methodology succeeded in creating a variety of social links that are explained through out this chapter. Dialogicalpossibilities. The ethnographic set up and the group and interactive process in the methods I used brought me as a researcher and subject into dialogue with others, and furthermore, it brought the individual participants into dialogue with other participants. I have characterized this process as one of knowledge production and generation of meanings. I do not take for granted that the "mixing" of the three methodological elements — ethnographic, group and interactive ~ mechanically produced a dialogical and "reliable" process; however, I argue that these methods contain such a potential. The combination of individual story telling with the creation of collective products (a map, a quilt), and the participants' reflections made ongoing dialogue, reflection and exchange in the groups possible. For the purpose of my research about how individuals make sense and meaning of their present lives in a violent context, the process and methods applied allowed me to document processes of meaning generation. Group biases. The "bias" of these methods is their group and "public" nature. Methods like mental maps or visual biographies are produced collectively and therefore leave out several aspects of the individual experience. At the same time, however, they express a group perception and product that is constructed through an interactive process. The degree of "intimacy" that a method like the interview may provide between the researcher and the subjects of the research is not achieved in a group format. The result was that I did not hear certain types of stories (that would only be told in the "privacy" of one on one interaction) and that some stories were re-created and performed for a group audience. The advantage of group interaction is that it creates a shared social realm and that the interactions taking place among the individuals are characteristic of everyday interactions. Different degrees of intimacy were achieved between the participants, and the participants were influenced by the specific circumstances of their remembering together and the dynamics established among participants and with the researcher-facilitator. Moments of reflection and shared intimacy emerged through the recognition of shared emotions and pains when the larger group broke down in smaller groups or in couples through the sharing of personal and group stories that had not been heard before, or when the group moved into a reflective stage and discussed the memories that had been evoked. What was produced as a group represented a collectively negotiated product that did not necessarily imply or require consensus. 54 The next section introduces a reflection on how I position myself in relation to the topic studied. This is another key element for evaluating my methodological approach. Situating the anthropologist In this section, I examine how I position myself as an ethnographer who writes about memory and violence, and how I face the challenges and responsibilities of studying a topic in which I have as much personal as professional interest. "Being in the field" presented me with a unique mix of challenges and considerations. I "returned home" for my fieldwork, but I returned "transformed" by my exposure to "other" cultures, ways of living, residence in another country and the privilege of not having lived the last decade of violence in Colombia directly. The country I returned to had been radically transformed by the erratic and devastating effects of a social and political conflict that was expressed in a multitude of forms of violence. My past research, as well as my community and educational experiences in Colombia, placed me in a privileged position when re-acquainting myself with my previous research community, when establishing research and community contacts, and when I arguably had to locate myself as a cultural "insider."181 had previously done research in Medellin and knew many 1 8 Reflections on the problematics of the anthropologist's identity and reception across diverse audiences have begun to address the specific issues and ethical dilemmas faced by anthropologists of non-dominant groups. Kirin Narayan (1993) argues against the fixity of a distinction between "native" and "non-native" anthropologist, while Abu-Lughod (1991) speaks of the "halfie anthropologist." While these elaborations may begin to address issues of voice and subject position, they do not properly confront the pervasive colonial legacy in Anthropology. I did my anthropology BA in Colombia and practised the discipline there for seven years. The Anthropology departments in Colombia, like anywhere else, struggled with the same issues and colonial legacies. My training was rooted in this legacy. My reference to a cultural "insider" is certainly one I problematize. It was evident that the time passed, my social distance, and the obvious transformations that any culture undergoes in the time span of a decade required me to engage in a concerted effort to understand the dynamics of cultural identity and the social, political and cultural transformations that had taken place in Medellin. 55 people there. This background made my work easier and at the same time brought forward another set of expectations. For friends, acquaintances, researchers and others who knew me, the excitement of having me "back" and staying to do some research was accompanied by their expectations of what I had to offer. Having accessed graduate studies, research, and work experiences in Canada, they expected I could offer new insights and knowledge, particularly in the area of research about violence. It was clear to me that the prospect of offering this through a future written product ~ in a different language, in a dissertation format and three years down the road — was too intangible and at best useful for only a few. Instead, I tried to respond to these expectations within my fieldwork and research methodology by ensuring that the research and my methodology had some practical use for the groups I worked with. The work and reflections of Colombian anthropologists such as Hernan Henao who explored the possibilities of a research that "connects the university to the 'real' world" and for building skills within broader sectors of the population helped me in this task.19 Issues of power and voice have been located at the centre of the anthropological discussion of what it means "to be in the field," and what constitutes the ethical responsibilities of an anthropologist who researches and writes about violence. Antonious Robben and Carolyn Nordstrom (1995) discuss these issues in the most recent and comprehensive collection on the ethnographies of violence. The authors underscore the complexities and contradictions of researching and writing about a topic like violence 1 9 Hernan Henao devoted his twenty-five years of anthropological work to practice an anthropology that promoted dialogue and that "assists social agents in confrontation, in imagining future settings" (Interview with Joanne Rappaport, 1990:59). Hernan, ^ a professor at the Anthropology Department of the University of Antioquia and director of the University's Institute of Regional Studies (INER) was assassinated at point blank range in his office by three hooded individuals on May 4th, 1999. that is "essentially contested." Writing about violence, they argue, requires an anthropological stance that "gives voice to the puzzling contradictions of lives perturbed by violence" (1995:10). Aware of the criticisms formulated by authors such as Gayatri Spivak (1988) on the colonial legacy that this positioning entails, these authors recognize the mediation of their Western academic power and authority in their research and in "speaking for others." Robben and Nordstrom acknowledge the uncomfortable contradictions of their theoretical developments and search for a resolution at the textual level. Through their writing, they aim to make "the voice of the perpetrators and victims audible" while they see their duty as one of writing against repression and injustice (Bourgois, 1995; Robben and Nordstrom, 1995:12; Schepher-Hughes, 1995). To become aware of the Western location and biases that one may bring into the field only partially problematizes the colonial legacy embedded in the ethnographic work. Absent from this positioning is the interrogation about how this legacy is carried in our actions, gaze, bodies and anthropological stance and in our fieldwork practices and social realms in which any research practices are located. I argue that the questioning of the anthropological endeavour has to be fully addressed "in the field" to inquire about our gaze, methods, alliances and to specifically problematize our ethnographies so that they do not become pornographies of violence.2 0 During my fieldwork, I was aware of these dilemmas and the risky and pleasurable temptations for an anthropological gaze to delve into sensationalist and voyeuristic accounts of violence. This explains my shifting away Daniel (1996) discusses these contradictions when he refers to the vulnerability of accounts of violence to taking on a prurient form. Daniel poses this question in regards to the writing of an anthropography of violence. I stress the importance of taking this type of questioning to the field to inquire specifically, about our ethnographic gaze. from a focus on "seeing violence" and my own questioning about the legitimacy of the anthropologists, who like war journalists, follow the paths of blood and destruction. Instead, I followed the circuits and routes of memory to explore the multitude of active subject positions that those affected or in the middle of violence may take.21 Praxis, alliances and methods I return now to the concept of praxis11 in order to emphasize the ways I partially resolved the ethical and methodological dilemmas I faced in my fieldwork and later in my writing. In the fieldwork, my primary consideration was that my research strategies should encourage direct dialogue and an exploration of knowledge as an "intersubjective process of sharing experience, comparing notes, exchanging ideas, and finding common ground." (Jackson, 1996:9). This consideration required an awareness of the ways I did my research: what relations I established, what decisions I made, which alliances I sought. It also required a continuous interrogation of my position in the field and the recognition of my location as a social subject and as a researcher. Consequently, I came to locate the research process in the field of experience and praxis. I understood that in this field there is not one central position from which to speak or locate the research 2 1 Subaltern studies approach to issues of agency informs my analysis of the ways city dwellers, as social and cultural subjects, may position themselves in regard to violence. These authors have looked at issues of autonomy (political and cultural) and the subaltern subject stressing the heterogeneity and historical role of the subjects in actions of resistance. Their search is humanistic in nature, but through this process, they have found that their search for a "subject-agent" frequently underscored contradictory issues such as the failure of subaltern agency. Emerging from their work is an approach that de-essentializes resistance, culture and the subject (Guha 1983; Prakash 1994). 2 2 I follow here Patti Lather's (1991:172) definition of praxis as "a dialectical tension, the interactive, reciprocal shaping of theory and practice which I see at the center of an emancipatory social science." Otner (1984), Escobar (1994) and Lather stress the need for anthropologists and social science researchers to locate their work at the juncture between method, theory and political stance. 58 subjects and the researchers, but that there are diverse ways to participate, meet, and 23 locate ourselves. Research subjects and researchers are always peripherally located. As a researcher I did not stand simply outside, in the centre or above in my relationship with the research subjects. I understood that I could be situated anywhere in our relationships: peripherally, horizontally, some times at the centre and other times outside the field of inquiry (Jackson, 1996). It was clear to me that i f I was going to be accountable and going to recognize my ethical and social responsibility and the local impact of my research intervention, my research had to be socially and culturally useful in the local context. This included the contribution that the research could make to the research subjects and the research links with other debates and actions that take place outside the strict academic realm. In Medellin, this included my participation in the interdisciplinary discussions that were taking place about a strategic plan for the city of Medellin. It also included the agenda for national and municipal policies for a peaceful resolution to the social conflicts, and in the creation of alternatives to respond to the spread of violence. In retrospect, this is one aspect in which my methodological approach had a "catalytic validity" fostering and energizing participants towards reflection and action, and my participation in larger social debates (Lather, 1991). 3 The concept of peripheral participation arises from critical and constructivist theories of education. In speaking of a peripheral participation it is recognized that there are multiple and diverse ways to participate and meet, "multiple, varied, more-or-less engaged and inclusive ways of being located in the field of participation defined by a community" and that any of these modes are more central or ideal for the process of research (Lave and Wenger, 1991:36). The concept of peripheral participation describes the individual's location in the world and the changing locations and perspectives in which the individual's learning, the formation of identities and the forms of membership take place. 59 One fundamental aspect in this reflective examination of social responsibility in the fieldwork is the consideration of the implications of our research interventions for the subjects themselves, the implication of asking the subjects to tell stories. Olujic voices her concern about the implications of asking social actors, in a war context, to tell their stories (Olujic, 1995). In my view this issue is not restricted to the field of violence but has to do with any instance of research in which we interact with other human beings and ask them to share stories, life experiences and feelings. As a researcher, one has to recognize that any research interaction will have repercussions in the human, social and emotional realm of the research subjects including oneself.24 This does not imply that we need to place ourselves in therapeutic or missionary positions. It requires that we continuously interrogate our research interactions from an ethical and social perspective and that researchers assume the social responsibility of conducting research. During my research I realized that when I invited individuals to come together in a memory workshop, what happened in the room was not just a "research" interaction or a successful dialogic moment of data gathering or story telling. Remembering as a group and the emotions arose indicated that a process of individual and social nature was taking place. As a researcher, this required me to assume a social responsibility that went beyond ethical guidelines of what is deemed "good" and "socially relevant" research. I faced the task of how to interact with the manifestations of pain and grief, and the expressions of anger and despair that emerged in the workshop. For me, the key to 2 4 In contrast, this is an issue that is largely absent, "forgotten," in methodological and reflective discussions about anthropological research methods and the fieldwork experience. Mary Douglas (1986) has addressed how institutionalized forgetting is intrinsic to the history of "science" and in the practices of many social disciplines that historically re-discover ideas and forget them with the specific purpose of maintaining a kind of institution (and power). reflecting about this emotional ground was found in the social context of the memory workshop and its potential to trigger a creative process of finding meaning to the memories shared. The important aspect in terms of the process of the memory workshop was that the group and the researcher created a space of listening, respect and trust where mourning, reflection and meaningful sharing were possible. During my fieldwork, I was fully aware of the effects and reactions that a remembering session might provoke for the participants (including the possibility of "negative" or uncontrollable emotional reactions or the eruption of conflict). To ensure safety and a climate of social and cultural respect, I always made decisions about the workshops (who, where, and how) in consultation with local leaders, the groups themselves and the non-governmental organizations. We ensured that those invited to the workshop had some common ties and that there was a level of trust and respect among them. My own expertise in facilitation was also important as the conducting of these sessions required a knowledge of group dynamics, conflict resolution and tools for facilitation and communication.25 When a group collectively explores its past through the sharing of stories, the practices of memory cover a continuum between description, sensorial experience and analytical reflection. This allows the individual to construct meaning and to strengthen ties of social bonding and identification. Generally, the telling of a story worked to revitalize the memories of other stories that upon being heard evoked even more 2 51 gave significant thought to this issue because I recognize that there are multiple elements and risks in using memory workshops in a violent social context. I extensively discussed this issue with the staff at Corporacion Region and other organizations to ensure that I was sensitive to the possible effects of remembering in the participants. In most cases, I had a community worker with me during the workshop. At the beginning of the workshop I asked the group to come up with some basic agreements that would ensure a safe participation. In each workshop, time was allocated for reflecting upon what was heard and what had happened during the session. 61 memories and activated reflective processes. This process of "chain-remembering" slowly wove singular individual memories into a discernible fabric of memories and reflective narratives. In the time and space bounded environment of a group session, a kind of narrative consensus was slowly negotiated as to what had been lived and its impact. At the same time many debates and disagreements arose, and different and contradictory versions emerged. This constituted a process of negotiation that is at the core of how collective memories are shared by groups of people. Since not all the participants have lived through the same experiences, remembering helps to inform about others and reveal facets of experience and relations that are not known or that others are not aware of. These moments of negotiation and consensus make the re-construction and re-signification of experience and the elaboration of meaning possible.26 On Active neutrality In March of 1997,1 wrote in my fieldwork journal: "in the end who is the one 'tracing back the steps?' It seems that more than anyone else / am the one doing it by having 'come back' to places, people, groups, landscapes and stories that also dwell in me and that crossed so many years of my life." The fieldwork and writing of this dissertation have meant a personal and social exploration of my own labyrinth of 2 6 This topic was often addressed during the memory workshops. An interesting avenue of reflection was the consideration of these processes as contributing to individual and group explorations of the emotions and practices that stand in the way of individuals assuming control over their memories, and as an activating process of individual and social mourning. This reflection was discussed with interest in the workshops I carried "outside my research field" with human right workers, internally displaced people, and non governmental organizations. 62 memories. Fieldwork and writing stand as memory practices by which I have shaped my knowledge (Ibanez, 1999). Neither violence nor memory stand for me as something external to my social world, consciousness and historical being (Feldman, 1995). On the contrary, violence is something too tangible not only for what I learned during my research, but also in my personal world. I carry with me a rage and pain arising from the destruction taking place in Colombia, and a sense of loss for those friends, relatives, co-workers, and intellectuals who have been lost to violence. This emotional fabric covers my fieldwork and my writing and my practices of memory. My research methods and writing account for my choice to focus my research on city dwellers. In taking as an unit of analysis the practices of memory of Medellin's city dwellers, I searched into a domain of every day life: the lives city dwellers live and the lives they remember having lived. Undoubtedly, this search for meaning and memory places my inquiry in a humanistic.field. While writing, I have struggled with questions about how to reconstruct the "cultural depth" and lifeworlds of Medellin's city dwellers, and how to convey the lack of coherence and senselessness without dehumanizing the subjects themselves (Feldman, 1995). Undoubtedly, ambiguity and contradiction dwell in my own positioning and in my writing, .. the prurience of violence has leaked in. How else could the average reader living in an antiseptic even if not an uncaring world, have an inkling of the foul scent that he or she has been spared? (Daniel, 1996:5). I have made several decisions to include or to not include specific information and to carry out particular lines of reflection and analysis. As the movement and spread of violence in Colombia further haunts the few certainties I used to have, I have become 63 cynical of the "utility" [or lack of] that claims an anthropological duty of "writing against terror" (Taussig, 1992; Green, 1995). I value the potential of writing to educate or bring awareness about what is taking place in some parts of the world, but the terror and violence and most important the suffering and cultural reconstruction of those who live amidst violence require more effective and pragmatic responses. These responses, in my opinion, do not belong in a text or in academic halls and conferences, but rather in the social worlds that we as researchers, citizens or research subjects share. In writing this dissertation I have carried out an exercise of ethnographic interpretation and assumed full responsibility and authorship for my line of interpretation. My ethnography and writing do not claim to "speak for" others, nor I am concerned with locating myself as "speaking from" the other's point of view. I assume responsibility for the way I carried out my fieldwork, for my personal non-neutral stance on the topic of my dissertation,27 and for the decisions I made about the stories told here and the story and argument I weave throughout these pages. "Neutrality" in Colombia is a contested term. I use the reference to a non-neutral stance to describe my individual position against the violent resolution of conflicts and the suffering it causes. However, as a Colombian, I share with many others a position as "active neutral." The spread of violence has made civilians targets of killing, internal displacement and other forms of violence. Civilians and social organizations have adopted a position of "active neutrality" to stress their non involvement with the war. The Native Indian governors of the region of Uraba were the first ones to propose this strategy in 1994 and were followed by several indigenous, peasant and civic organizations in the rest of the country. By 1997, non governmental organizations and most of the unions and grassroots organizations, academics and entire communities across the country have positioned themselves as neutral but "active." Active neutrality means the practice of neutrality and the refusal of civilians to engage with any of the armed actors and their active commitment with peace initiatives. The armed actors, however, have not respected this. In the last two years numerous social leaders, prominent academics, and human rights workers have been killed (or disappeared) particularly, but not only, by the paramilitary, who argue that the figure of the active neutrality is a mask to hide loyalties to other actors such as the guerrilla. 2 81 follow here Begona Aretxga (1997) reflection on her politics of location and writing on issues of gender and political violence. 64 Some practical considerations I discussed with several of those involved in my fieldwork the implications of using the real names of the city areas and groups I worked with. They did not see the advantages or utility of changing the names and did not consider that the use of real names would bring about problems of confidentiality or safety. In this dissertation, I use the real names of places and groups. In the case of the individuals, first names are included. In some cases, the first name is the real one and in others, because the individual has asked me not to include his or her name, I use a pseudonym. The field material quoted in this dissertation comes from fieldwork notes, taped material or from my memory. When the material used is taped, the type of session, location, and date are included in square brackets. Direct quotations from tapes are numbered according to the chapter and the order they appear in the text. Lists of workshops and quotations are included in the appendix to facilitate the location of the material quoted. Transcription of the taped material and translation from Spanish to English posed several difficulties. The group nature of the sessions I conducted created a rich environment that facilitated remembering. This same aspect, however, became the major difficulty for transcribing these sessions. Often, the moments of heightened group interaction and remembering implied that several individuals would be speaking at once or that parallel conversations were taking place. Because there were several interactions taking place among participants, it was difficult at times to follow the flow of their stories or to contextualize them. I listened to the tapes several times until I was able to hear and 65 place in context some of the conversations and stories. My journal and memory helped greatly. Furthermore, giving transcripts back to some of the groups was extremely helpful. They corrected them, contextualize the stories for me, and sometimes complemented stories or specific information. Finnegan (1992) stresses the challenges faced in transcription and translations because of the lack of equivalence between a spoken and performed language and a written one. These differences, Finnegan highlights, are mediated by culture and by our own assumptions about the relation between written words and performance. This was an issue of serious concern for me and one further complicated by the unique speech used by several of the youth who participated in the workshops. This youth language introduces lexical transformations, changes the semantics of words, and is filled with images that have little resemblance with written syntax.29 In the process of transcription some of the richness of the orality and performance, the relational group context, and the uniqueness of the group language have been lost. I have tried to keep some of this richness by including a number of conventions within the format of the transcription: • Body movements, gestures and emotional responses are described in brackets within the quotation when they were of descriptive and of contextual value. • Interjections, comments or questions from others when someone was telling a story are also included within brackets in the text. • Speech pauses and hesitations are announced by the use of three dots. • The doubling or tripling of letters express the lengthening of sounds. Capital letters indicate loud speech and letters in bold indicate words that were 66 stretched out by the speakers. Three dots within square brackets indicate that a part of the narration was not included in the text (Finnegan, 1992; Shrezer quoted by Finnegan). These issues were further complicated when I faced the task of translation. A personal friend who is bi-lingual in English and Spanish and has an in-depth knowledge of the colloquial and spoken language and translation experience supported me in this task. Although my preference was to do a translation that kept the poetics, richness and performative aspect of the speaker, I accepted that those not familiar with the social context and the language would have difficulties understanding it. I settled for a translation that tried to convey the meaning of the speaker's ideas and whenever possible captures the poetics and uniqueness of the speech. When we could not find an English expression that accurately conveys the meaning of the Spanish word or phrase, I have kept the original in Spanish and provide an explanation in brackets. As well, a glossary of Spanish terms is included. Chapter five expands the description of these youth's language. 67 Figure 5 Visual record of memory workshops and group sessions 68 Chapter Three The History of Barrio Antioquia is the History of Colombia: Local Histories in a National Light. Now dead the great patron of hired assassins, ray poor Alex was left without work. It was then that I met him. And so national events are tied to personal events, and the poor, vulgar lives of the humble woven with those of the great. Fernando Vallejo - La Virgen de los Sicarios. "Colombian violence began in Barrio Antioquia,"1 asserted Don Luis, a community leader of Barrio Antioquia, soon after I met him and explained my research work. A few days later, when we talked at the site of the barrio's Junta de Action Comunal [Community Action Board], he repeated this affirmation and further asserted that "the history of Barrio Antioquia is the history of the country."2 I was often reminded of his words when listening to local stories about events that had taken place in the barrio and Medellin or while conducting bibliographic research on the historical and sociological trends of the region. Don Luis' statements about the origin of violence and the barrio's history establish a locational viewpoint for exploring the relationships between local events, and national and global historical trends. This chapter advances this task by examining how the history of barrio Antioquia illuminates broader city and 1 Here and throughout the dissertation, expressions within quotations marks are recited from my memory, fieldwork notes or from taped material. When the material used is taped, the source, date and occasion are included in square brackets. 2 I met Don Luis in May of 1997 when I first came to Barrio Antioquia. Don Luis, a man in his fifties and a resident of the barrio, was involved with Probapaz, the organization created to co-ordinate the peace pact among youth gangs in the barrio and to organize educational, recreational and community programs with children and youth. Earlier in 1997, Don Luis had made a presentation in a university symposium about the peace process in Barrio Antioquia. For organizing the presentation, he interviewed two long time residents and leaders of the barrio. Soon after we met, he summarized his work on the barrio's history and stressed his conclusion on the roots of violence and the importance of the barrio's history. 70 regional historical trends. It highlights the links between local processes and regional and global processes, and the potential of local histories to unveil and describe wider social, historical and cultural processes (Escobar, 1997; Gupta and Fergusson, 1997). Historian David Cohen (1995) has drawn attention to how significant and alternative practices of history production lie outside the academic guild of historians and anthropologists, resting instead within those social and cultural worlds that the academics j study. Cohen argues that any practice of history production needs to recognize its inscription in these broader social fields and that the methods and tools of the historian/anthropologist are a piece of this broader historical practice. In this chapter, I approach the historical task inspired by this view. For this task I rely on the various practices of history production, cultural accounts from the residents of barrio Antioquia,3 and on my ethnographic observations of their practices of remembering and forgetting. Oral and written sources are brought together and include: a) the stories remembered by barrio Antioquia's residents during the several workshops, group sessions and informal encounters that took place during my fieldwork, b) ethnographic notes and observations, c) the various video, drama and performances produced by individuals and groups of the community, and d) the written documentation and literature on regional history. 3 This was particularly relevant to the situation in which I came to do research in barrio Antioquia as part of an inter-institutional initiative supported by the community association to re-construct the barrio's history through a community process. As explained in Chapter two, the products and outcomes of this process went beyond the project, resulting in, for example, the production of three amateur videos by the youth group, the dramatization of several parts of the "anecdotes book" during the Calks de Cultura celebration and the use of the anecdotes book by the schools or by residents who took on the task of writing a history of the barrio. The practices of the community's history production includes the writing of stories from the barrio by residents for a municipal contest on the barrio's history, videos produced by a local organization to which several residents of the barrio belong, the events organized within the community's annual celebration for peace "calles de cultura" (e.g. story telling sessions, historical dramas) and the informal story telling sessions that can happen anywhere and anytime in the barrio's bars, corner stores, and streets or during barrio member's visits to one another. This material has been extremely useful for my research. 71 The events narrated here are sometimes reconstructed from stories told by various inhabitants of the barrio. Other times they are narrated as they were remembered by one individual or as described by the person who actually experienced them. Throughout the text, the first time the name of one of the story tellers/narrators is introduced, a brief reference to this individual is included in a footnote. Clouds of Smoke: The Thirties On June 24 of 1935, Ivan, his father and most of his neighbours rushed towards the bushes at the southeast end of barrio Antioquia.4 An airplane that had crashed and caught on fire laid on the grass, and clouds of smoke surrounded the area. While marvelling at the immense flames, Ivan heard mention of Carlos Gardel. During the following days, the smoke remained in the air while rumours about what had happened spread like the voracious fire did that same day. Some said that Gardel, the renowned Argentinean Tango singer, was shot as his airplane left Medellin and another was attempting to land. The airplanes crashed, and the rumour went that Gardel escaped alive. Others recalled just one airplane and never heard of shootings or of Gardel being alive, but they all continue to remember the event to this date. The death of Carlos Gardel on the barrio's grounds has marked several generations of the barrio's people, shaping their musical tastes and desire to fly and providing an iconic referent to reinforce a sense of belonging to "the barrio" where Gardel died. 4 When Ivan's family arrived in the early 1930s, there were only twelve houses in barrio Antioquia. Ivan was born in the barrio and has lived there all his 65 years. He has witnessed the key events that have taken place there and proudly says today that his family is among the founders of the barrio. Ivan told this story during a group interview with his two cousins that took place in August 16, 1997. 72 In the 1930s, the paisas5 revered Gardel and the tango rhythm he immortalized. Tango was heard throughout the city: in the bars of the commercial and train station area, in working class barrios, in corner stores or the homes of artisans, bohemians and large numbers of new immigrants from rural areas. Gardel's upbringing as a poor child in the arrabales6 of Argentina, his struggle to make a career as a singer and his success and acceptance across social classes became a source of inspiration for the masses of rural migrants and poor women and men who were struggling to survive in the city of Medellin (Savigliano, 1995). Through tango music, the unique lunfardo7 language and the tango figure of the malevo8 became cultural models that were appropriated and recreated as linguistic and cultural styles of the popular classes. They were incorporated into local figures such as the guapo,9 and provided cultural models, survival strategies and "street smarts" for those who, like the new immigrants of the Argentinean's The expression used in Colombia to refer to the people from the Antioquia and Caldas coffee growing regions is "paisas." The city of Medellin is located in the department of Antioquia [see Map # 3] 6 After 1870, large waves of new immigrants from Europe -mostly Italy- and from the Argentinean countryside began to arrive in the port of Buenos Aires. They congregated on the outskirts of the city that were denominated as the arrabal or orillas of Buenos Aires (Taylor, 1976). 7 The name is taken from los lunfardos. professional thieves. The vocabulary and linguistic use of lunfardo combined words from various immigrants groups but mostly from the Italian language. 8 El malevo is described by Salazar as a varon, "the authentic worthy man" who does not get intimidated by anything, acts by his own laws and is not a soplon [telltale] (Salazar et al., 1996:204). The malevo refers to a style of doing things, it is the voice of a cultural image of the great real "man" who shows profound attachment to his territory and a disregard of authority (Reyes, 1996; Villa, 1991). 9 In Colombia, the figure of the guapo had rural origins in the mining fields and later in the city slum quarters. They are described by Reyes as aggressors, and bullies, and as men proud of their ability to challenge everything and risk their lives in suicidalfights with knives, daggers and machetes that were used as swords in an original and complex kind of fencing (Reyes, 1996). Later in the cities, this attitude was reinforced by the musical background of the tango music that "interprets its uprooting and loneliness in the city" (Villa, 1991:178). 73 arrabales, were experiencing uprootedness, exclusion and loneliness in a hostile city that mostly ignored them (Reyes, 1996; Vil la , 1991). Origins Barrio Antioquia was officially incorporated into the urban perimeter of Medellin in the years before Gardel's accident. Human settlement, however, had already begun during the mid 1910s. Families coming from the rural areas of the department of Antioquia's Suroeste [South West] (See map # 3) and from various parts of Medellin settled in these lands where large fincas [countryside residences that may have both recreational and farm uses with cattle or agricultural use] were progressively divided into small parcels. The newcomers exchanged their chickens, pigs, eggs, checheres [household "knick-knacks," lumber, junk] and labour for a lot of land. They made a living collecting cowpats and amasgndo barro [kneading mud/clay] amidst the clouds of mosquitoes that inhabited the muddy area. Since these early years, many other peasants left the rural areas, attracted by the economic prosperity of Medellin, a city that by the 1910s had become an important industrial and commercial centre.10 Medellin was the hub of vibrant commercial and industrial activity and the epicentre of the economic activity of Western Colombia and the coffee-growing region. Although marked by economic growth and prosperity, the spirit of the city was very much that of an isolated rural town (Archila, 1991). Another 1 0 These were the years during which the first textile, pop, shoemaking and match making industries were created. A generation of miners, merchants and landowners migrated to the city. Between 1912-1918 close to 14,000 people arrived in Medellin which had less than 40,000 inhabitants at the beginning of that period (Salazar y Jaramillo, 1994). 74 factor contributing to this isolation, was the unique geography of Medellin - a city surrounded by mountains and subtropical jungle. Because of the city's economic and demographic growth, city administrators worked towards overcoming the geographical barriers that separated the region from the rest of the country. This was made possible in the 1920s with the establishment of railway routes and the initiation of work on a road towards the ocean. Work, manual labour, family values, religiosity and a belief in the superiority of the Antioqueno people were the guiding values of the paisa culture fostered by the regional elites (Reyes, 1996).11 These values were expressed in a pragmatics of living that bragged of the antioquenos' initiative, honesty, ability to do business, and think of efficient ways to obtain money "to not only fulfil your needs and ambitions but receive full social gratification" (Arango-Jaramillo, Mario, 1988:18). The value of manual labour and of individual effort were adopted within the popular culture, and combined with a devotion to the Catholic religion and the family as the key social institutions that regulated social life. The strength of the regional culture was rooted in a myth of the white racial purity of the "Antioqueno race"12 but the assumed homogeneity of the 1 1 Maria Teresa Uribe (1990) has documented the origins of the political project of Antioqueno elites at the beginning of the XlXth century. This project was grounded in three equally important pillars: the economic (the establishment of a regional, national and international gold and food trading network), the political and the cultural. The expansion of the trading network was supported by a strategy of frontier colonization. Uribe argues that a central feature of this process of territorialization were the dynamics of inclusion-exclusion promoted by the regional elites. This was expressed not only in the exclusion of all those not considered white, Catholic or with the proper moral values and social attitudes (such as prostitutes, tramps, destitute and delinquent individuals) but had a geospatial referent that will be manifested in the formation of very diverse territorialities. The exclusions and differentiation created as a consequence, Uribe argues, are the roots of many of the current violent and conflictive expressions. 1 2 The social and cultural construction of the paisas as a race is the result of an eclectic use of regional history, folklore, economics and psychology. It claims the distinctiveness of the Antioqueflo people and their superiority due to a supposedly white racial purity and their great economic smarts. This myth emerges with the colonizing enterprise taken by the Antioqueno people in the beginning of the century and the establishment of strong mining and commercial activities (Wade, 1986). 75 Antioqueno culture has been severed in the 1930s by the significant presence of the Antioqueno Blacks, who emigrated from the Uraba region (see Map #3), and by the general ethnic mixing that has been taking place since the Colonial times. These mixed roots, however, were denied by a "white" elite that had promoted the myth of their superior culture as one where Blacks, indigenous people and mestizos did not have a place (Reyes, 1996). By the 1930s, barrio Antioquia was one of the city's barrios receiving artisans, working class families, and immigrants. The growing waves of immigration became visible in Medellin and began to impact its social and economic life. In the span of two decades, Medellin's population doubled and its developed area increased in size by eight times (Reyes, 1996). The living conditions for working class families and the poor became very difficult, and due to the scarcity of housing, Antioqueno's families which were the largest in the country at the time (with an average 6.6 members) had to live in crowded one or two bedrooms houses (Archila, 1991). Working class housing was developed in new neighbourhoods, mostly in the northwest part of the city and, meanwhile, "the tendency of the elites was to move to a distance, to delimit their territory, to not mix and to differentiate themselves from the rest of the population" (Reyes, 1996:13). A collective mentality of stigmatizing the poor and the "different" took root and began to be materialized in the sharp geographical differentiation and social divisions of the city along class lines (Salazar et al., 1996). In these years, the textile industry strengthened, and large textile conglomerates emerged. Barrio Antioquia not only housed some of the textile workers, it also became 76 the centre of a traditional industry in which many people of the barrio worked at producing undergarments "Medias CristaF. A War of Colours and Horrors: The Fifties A priest without a head wandered in the manga'3 de la Palma. In the early 50s, the inhabitants of barrio Antioquia walked in and out of the barrio through this field but avoided it at night when the scary headless priest might appear amidst the sound of bells. Their fears, however, were not just about the roaming priest-ghost but of the limp bodies that appeared hanging from the trees. By then, there were more than a thousand dwellings in barrio Antioquia. Poor artisans and workers inhabited the barrio which was mostly Liberal by political affiliation and had proudly received a visit from the national party leader, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, and many other Liberal leaders. In barrio Antioquia's history, however, it was the arrival of the Matias family, six brothers of conservative political affiliation who came from the rural town of Fredonia1 4, that brought "home" the instability, violence and death that the rest of the country was experiencing in those years. These were the years of Colombia's non-declared civil war, known as La violencia, - a civil war that claimed the lives of two hundred thousand Colombians and affected extensive areas of the country. The civil war was waged seemingly between two fighting parties over the control of the government; however, the real problems at stake were social conflicts and economic issues surrounding the struggle for land and resources, the emergence of new elites, the control of the lower social classes, the 1 3 A natural strip of grass and trees within the city. 1 4 Located in the south west of the Department of Antioquia and a conservative stronghold. regional diversity and the search for social mobility (Le Grand, 1994; Roldan, 1992; Bergquist, 1992; Pecaut, 1997a). La violencia, spanned the years between 1946 and 1965 with its most critical period between 194815 and 1953.16 Don Arturo 1 7 remembers that on a Sunday afternoon, a young woman wearing a red dress was in her living room visiting with her boyfriend. The sight of her red dress was reason enough for the conservative Matias brothers to come into her living room and undress her. On another day, a man was killed because he was cleaning a car with a red rag. The sehaladores, those who would report on who was a liberal, and the aplanchadores, those who would beat the liberals up with the flat side of a machete {planazos), roamed the streets of barrio Antioquia like the pdjaros™ [birds] who roamed the streets of towns and cities. Fear made most of the people remain at home or take off any time they saw a member of the Matias family. In barrio Antioquia, as in the rest of the country, La violencia had some of its most vicious manifestations in bloody " When the liberal grassroots leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan was assassinated in Bogota prompting a large scale social revolt. 1 6 The most acute expressions of this civil war took place in the countryside and in regions such as the Andean coffee growing region, the surrounding areas of the river Magdalena (a key fluvial channel of communication for the country), and the prairies of the south eastern region of the country. 1 7 Don Arturo is seventy-four years old and came to live in the barrio in the 1960s. He told this story based on the stories he heard about La Violencia when he engaged in the task of writing a history of the barrio. Don Arturo has been involved in the barrio's community association for many years and has been the president of the association several times. With the assistance of one of his daughters (who took notes and typed the manuscript), Don Arturo wrote a history of the barrio that was submitted to a municipal contest in 1989. His history begins in the 1910s and concludes with the events that took place in the barrio during the 1950s. An important part of this history is the list of individuals from Barrio Antioquia who have gained recognition as politicians, professionals, athletes. 1 8 The pdjaros were in charge of death in the urban areas during la violencia. They were generally sponsored by political figures and had the complicity of the authorities. They received monetary rewards according to the importance of the victims. Victims generally received announcements of their death in printed cards (Sanchez, 1992). 78 symbols of death and torture and in a war of colours and horrors. Red was the colour that identified the Liberal movement, and blue was the Conservative colour. Violent responses to the sight of red or blue became part of what Colombian journalist Arturo Alape refers to as the writing of terror. A sign, a colour, an artefact were enough to provoke the torture of victim's bodies and to stage a scene of terror that left a profound and hurtful mark in the memory of Colombians (Sanchez, 1992).19 Fabiola and Ofelia 2 0 were under ten years old when they learned that the Matias, armed with machetes, were coming to attack their house. Their family pushed each other up as they struggled to climb a wall and fit through an opening leading them out of the house. They were then able to escape by climbing onto another wall and jumping to a solar [a patio inside a house]. On another occasion, the two girls stayed up all night, knocking on doors and warning neighbours to be ready because "the chusma21 was coming." During La violencia barrio Antioquia's people "suffered a lot, as did Medellin and the country" (Don Arturo). Ivan, Fabiola and many others from their generation remember witnessing the beatings and deaths of people, 3.1. Ivan: I don't know why people... or they're very new, or I don't know why they don't remember... One had to see people one admires so much, so sana [clean-living], be killed one by one and this makes one remember this [the violence] a lot. It was a tremendous violence, a political violence, not like the present one which has no reason. [I/BA/16-08-97] Sanchez describes the scene of murder that characterized la violencia. The practice of torture was common and so was the staging of this terror in front of children, neighbours and families. The symbology of terror exercised on victims' bodies included atrocities such as mutilation, sexual violation, the desecration of victims' corpses, the description of killings according to the cuts inflicted on the bodies of the victims (e.g. the flannel "T-shirt" cut). 2 0 Fabiola and Ofelia are cousins of Ivan. They are also in their 60s and were both born in the barrio and have lived in the same house all their lives. Fabiola participated in several of the memory workshops and group sessions during my fieldwork. 2 1 Popular expression used to refer to those of Conservative affiliation. It means the mob. 79 [[French historian Daniel Pecaut (1997) argues that the memory of la violencia represents a national referent that has legitimated actions of revenge and hatred. Pecaut indicates that this memory of violence lacks a socially recognized form and tends to be expressed as a set of inarticulated individual narratives where violence is represented as a powerful force that destroys everything in its surroundings. This is in part due, he argues, to the regional and chronological diversity of this civil war, but it is also related to the collective experience of war in Colombia. Violence, in this experience, has been represented as an intrinsic thread and component of the national history.22 According to this reading, the present violence can be seen simply as a continuation of the past violence. In barrio Antioquia, however, the fighting and terrorizing among neighbours stopped when decree 517 of 1951 declared the barrio as the red light district of Medellin. As Fabiola says "e/ decreto saco La violencia" [the decree kicked La Violencia out of the barrio]. Red Lights in the Barrio: The "Tolerant" Years Most did not remember the name of the mayor. Although they did recall the precise municipal decree number and year: decree 517 of 1951, September 22. Decree "517" declared barrio Antioquia as the red-light district of Medellin. For Don Luis, this decree is the root of Colombian violence, a violence that he argues was created by the 2 2 An interpretation of La violencia that the Colombian elites are interested in maintaining as it hides the traces of the violent strategies that were systematically promoted by a part of the local elites (Pecaut, 1987:490). 80 State. For Dorla Amparo, the decree is the original moment when the barrio began to rot, and for Dofta Debora,2 4 the violence that the barrio lives today is the legacy of the violence lived under decree 517. Barrio Antioquia, poor and distant from the city's downtown and with only one entry point, was the site chosen by the mayor, with the support of the local elites and the city's bishop, for keeping the "undesirables" (prostitutes, homosexuals, drug addicts and alcoholics, thieves, Blacks, and recently arrived poor immigrants) segregated from the rest of the city (Salazar, 1996). The moral overtones of this resolution illustrate the urban planning and industrialization strategies, founded in ambiguous Catholic norms of sexual and moral behaviour, the control of the working class' free time and the regulation of city space, sponsored by Antioquia's elite (Jaramillo, 1994).25 After the decree was declared, Fabiola and Ofelia didn't look through their windows to see whether the Matias brothers were coming but rather to observe the first night of the decree. Dona Amparo was born in the barrio and is a proud grandmother of ten grandchildren. She was eight years old when the decree was declared. During the time of the decree six bars surrounded her house, and she would see her block filled with cars every night. 2 4 Dofta Debora was a school principal of one of the barrio's elementary schools for many years. Born in the barrio, Debora was sent to boarding school during this period and would come to the barrio only on the weekends. Her father was one of the leaders in the community's opposition that struggled against this decree. Dofia Deborah passed away in 1998. 2 5 The main industry of the region was the textile industry where young women formed the majority of the work-force. The local elites established that higher productivity could be reached by means of a paternalistic discipline derived from a local interpretation of Catholic morals and norms. Thus, "purity" and virginity became an explicit prerequisite for employment and married women, single mothers or women of "looser morals" were not employable in factories (Farnsworth-Alvear, 1994). The other important element for the disciplining of the working class was the control of their free time, which was particularly focused around the workers use of the downtown area of Guayaquil as a centre for drinking and socializing (Jaramillo, 1994). 81 3.2 Fabiola:26 So, the first night they turned off all the street lights in the barrio. Why? Family houses, the three or four of them, had yellow light bulbs. All the rest had red ones. The barrio men who could go outside to noveliar [snoop around ] said that you couldn't even stick a pin between all the cars jammed into the streets, all the people from Medellin who'd come to enjoy the first night in the new red light district. This left a big impact on all of us. They let us peek out the window a minute to see how it looked, and there was no room to stick a pin, just cars and cars. This was etched on our minds ... [MW-TC/B A/27-07-97] Figure 8 The first night of the decree 517 Trucks packed with prostitutes from all over the city arrived day after day. Most of the sexual workers were picked up in Guayaquil, a "city within the city," located in the city centre: the centre of commercial activity but also a place of looser morals where day and night were accompanied by the sounds and voices emerging from lively bars and other places of entertainment.27 For that year Barrio Antioquia became the only place in the 2 6 Fabiola told this story to describe her quilt image that visualizes the first night of the barrio as a red light district and as one of the most significant events of her life in the barrio. She presented this image during a memory workshop with participants of the Training Centre. 2 7 With the location of the train station in Guayaquil in 1929, this part of the city became a commercial centre as well as the first area that the new immigrants had contact with. The place was packed with stores, warehouses, corner stores, hardware stores and crockery shops. The area was dubbed "dry port" and the night life boomed in cafes, bars, boarding houses and motels. In contrast with the rest of the city, morality was loose and underground culture thrived (Reyes, 1996). 82 city where bars could be kept open with music playing for twenty-four hours a day. The first day of the decree thirty houses were converted into prostibulos [brothels]; forty five days later there were two hundred and fifteen (Cano, 1987). The barrio's residents were expected to sell their properties or give up their leases and move somewhere else in the city. Many left, but many others decided to stay and fight by organizing meetings, marches and protests led by women in mourning attires carrying the statue of the virgin. They were supported by the city's newspaper, El Colombiano, the barrio's priest and by some politicians. Barrio Antioquia made headlines in local newspapers for months. Life changed for those who stayed. Schools closed and became prophylactic centres for the sexual workers. Children either had to travel a long distance to attend school or be placed in boarding schools. At home, they were allowed little playing time outside and were forbidden from going out after five p.m. From their windows, they witnessed the cars, the drunkards, the fights and the shiny red lights that had taken over their barrio. Meanwhile, as i f dealing with a civil war at home was not enough, a battalion of the Colombian army joined the Allies to fight in the Korean War. Colombians learned about the ongoing civil war in distant Korea and the threat of Communism. As a result, Barrio Antioquia was informally renamed "Korea" because "everything was about fighting" and because it encapsulated a threat that, much like Communism, challenged the moral basis of the dominant society. Two years later, when most of the business and prostitutes had left,28 political and social pressure influenced the termination of the decree, but the barrio and the city continued to live with its legacy as the delinquency and 2 8 From a business point of view, the red light district did not succeed because its location far from the city centre did not attract the needed flow of people to keep the businesses running. 83 the underground economy remained in the barrio and the city. Rather than segregating prostitution to the periphery, the official decree had the effect of adding another prostitution zone and causing the deterioration of the existing ones (Jaramillo, 1994). In these years, Barrio Antioquia's stigma as a dangerous place of "evils" and "undesirable" people became firmly established in the collective mentality of the residents of Medellin and the country. This stigma has been kept alive by the media and rumour.29 When most of the new bars and brothels shut down, many of those who had come with the decree decided to make the barrio their permanent home. Among them was a large group of Black families and many Black women from the Uraba region of Antioquia. They worked as live-in domestic workers during the week, and then they would come to the barrio on weekends to enjoy the all-Black parties that were celebrated in several parts of the barrio. Another legacy of the "tolerant years," as some of the barrio's people refer to this period, is the introduction of drug selling activities in the barrio. Barrio Antioquia became the city's plaza de mercado [market], the central supplier of psychoactive drugs for the municipal area and the city of Medellin. This stigma has been useful in further the stereotype Colombians have in North American. Eddy, Sabogal and Walden, American journalists, reproduced such a perception: ".. .Barrio Antioquia, unquestionably Medellin's most dangerous zone. Declared a red-light district several decades ago and located next to the old airport, Barrio Antioquia harbours prostitutes of both sexes and people dispossessed of any values. The perpetrators of the most shocking crimes in Medellin, come almost always, from Barrio Antioquia, and it was largely emigres from this slum who served in the vicious "Cocaine Wars" experienced by both Miami and New York city between 1979 and 1982. Together with the district of Itagui in southern Medellin, Barrio Antioquia is the easy recruiting ground of paid killers. Customers interested in a trabajito -a little job- can stop, literally, at any corner and recruit an assassin." (Eddy, Sabogal and Walden, 1988: 29-30) 84 Languages of Concealment: The Sixties Wearing colourful flowery shirts, baggy green, purple or red trousers of "18 centimetre wide boots and 70 centimetre wide knees," and a long key chain hanging from their waist down to their knees and then going up and back to their pants' pocket, the camajanes openly smoked marihuana, loved Cuban singers such as Celia Cruz, Daniel Santos and the orchestra, "La Sonora Matancera," and knew tango lyrics and many lunfardo words off by heart.30 These were the camajanes, a group of young men that developed a unique male style in Medellin during the 1950s and 1960s that was "characterized by the extravagant use of clothing" (Filipo 1983 quoted in Vil la 1991). The camajanes were often seen in Bar Medellin and Bar Baliska of Barrio Antioquia or in their houses listening to music, sharing marihuana cigarettes and talking in a unique language that mixed tango lyrics and English words and was rich in metaphors, lexical transformations and euphemistic resources (Villa, 1991). 3 1 This group was distinguished by their ways of communicating i.e. their speech, their mannerisms and their dress style; furthermore, the camajanes transformed their unique style into a cultural response against exclusion and into a linguistic code that allowed for a protected communication. Their language has been referred to as a language of concealment: a way of communicating secretly through the use of signs, 3 0 The stories about the Camajanes were told to my research assistant, Sebastian, by Don Ruman who came to live in the barrio in the mid fifties and is the owner of one of the barrio's bars, and by Don Andres, the owner of one the barrio's pharmacy and long time resident of the barrio. 3 1 English words were incorporated and changed in their meaning or in their writing or pronunciation (e.g. bisnes for business). Lexical transformations occurred by addition e.g. yo-landa to refer to^o ('T'); by permutation e.g. teus for usted ("you") and by substitution e.g. Metrallo for Medellin. Euphemistic resources were used through the manipulation of similar sounds to give different meanings e.g. mqfo for mafioso, the use of diminutives or superlatives to change the meaning of a word and the use of expressions that reinforce the exclusive belonging to a linguistic community (Villa, 1991). 85 gestures and words that are senseless or meaningless to others (Villa, 1991). Tango lyrics and the underground culture of lower social classes was passed on to this group while they grew up in a marginalized barrio that transpired with these rhythms. The camajan's use of English words was learned and incorporated through a process of familiarization with North American culture. This familiarization was acquired as a result of a growing number of the barrio's people travelling to the United States.32 By the 1970s, the camajan style had faded but many of their communicative resources and linguistic constructions were re-created and transformed into new styles such as with the jipies [hippies] and later with the traquetos, those who travelled to the United States as a contact person for opening and locating markets for cocaine trafficking. 3 3 Barrio Antioquia's establishment as the drug market of Medellin was strengthened in the 1960s when the use of marihuana increased and the influence of changing cultural norms spread among local and national youth of all social classes. During these years, Antioquia was the region that expelled the most peasants from its rural areas (Oquist, 1980), and its once lively industry faced an economic recession due to the failure of the model of import substitution industrialization.34 The city of Medellin 3 2 Travel to the United States began in the barrio with the galofardos [refined, highly skilled thieves]. Barrio Antioquia's people have travelled to the United States since the early sixties to practice their skills as thieves and pick pockets "because in the barrio there were very good thieves, this is not good to say, but there were excellent thieves" (Don Andres, the pharmacist). 3 3 The naming of these intermediaries as traquetos is an example of the use and transformation of English words. The English root word is "to track," and here the verb is transformed into a noun that names a person in charge of tracking down possible clients and markets; furthermore, the sound of the word is similar to the sound made by firearms like the sub-machine gun and the G3 rifle when they are being loaded. The word is also used as a verb "traquelear" to mean move, stir, shake (Villa 1991; Castaneda and Henao,1996). 3 4 This model evaluated the "historical deterioration of the terms of trade against primary good from the countries of the periphery." The model recommended the strengthening of national industries to manufacture goods that were previously imported. (Escobar, 1995:80-81) 86 was experiencing major physical, demographic and cultural transformations. Between the 1960s and 1970s, 50% of all new inhabitants in Medellin were living in illegal settlements that had spread over the foothills of the mountains. The city had exhausted its physical capacity to expand because of the geographical conditions, and subsequently people were settling into new barrios in high-risk areas lacking basic public services and facilities. The crisis in these years was not just limited to the traditional economy and unemployment, it was also an urban crisis, seeing as the city had more than tripled its population in less than two decades.35 While the city's new inhabitants had to find for themselves the solution to sparse housing in illegal settlements, city authorities were finding it very difficult to plan urban interventions. Slowly, the limits of the urban perimeter were changed to include the new settlements, and basic needs of the barrios such as water, electricity, or elementary schools began to be addressed. One event that marked a profound change in a region traditionally dominated by the morals of a conservative and Catholic ruling elite was the hosting in 1971 of the Ancon rock festival: a local version of the Woodstock festival that attracted tens of thousands of young people from all over the country to Ancon park located near Medellin. During three days, marihuana and other psychoactive drugs were actively consumed by youth who were defying some of the dominant social values,36 and challenging mainstream culture's double morality concerning sex, religion and ethics. For the youth who attended the festival, smoking marihuana was a recent and trendy 3 5 In 1951, Medellin had 358.189 inhabitants; in 1964, 772.887 and in 1973, 1,071.252. (Jaramillo, Ceballos and Villa, 1998) 3 6 In the 1960s, Medellin registered a sharp increase in the consumption of psychoactive drugs such as barbituric drugs, marihuana, cocaine, morphine, and heroine (Salazar, 1997). 87 discovery. At that point, however, barrio Antioquia's people already had a history of smoking marihuana that dated back to the 1940s and 1950s ~ when it was seen as a vice of bandits and the underworld (Strong, 1995). Many of barrio Antioquia's people did not attend the Ancon festival to dance, sing or smoke but to take advantage of the opportunity to openly sell marihuana. On a regional level, the United States' intervention in national affairs was strongly felt during these years when the fear of more "Cuban revolutions" strengthened the cold war mentality and the developmentalist approach that dominated the US political, social and cultural agenda in Latin America. As part of their "social" strategy, the USA engaged in the Alliance for Progress program that promoted development programs in the areas of social housing, technology diffusion and community development by sending Peace Corps to poor, isolated areas. In Medellin, the site chosen for the developmentalist actions of the Peace Corps was barrio Antioquia. The presence of the Peace Corps was received with mixed emotions in Barrio Antioquia and throughout the country. While some welcomed their involvement in establishing a "social residence," controlling the rats and diseases in the barrio, and organizing sports events and health campaigns, others were suspicious of their mission and saw their presence as the "undercover infiltration of anti-drugs organisms such as the D E A and C I A " (Don Ruman). Arango and Child (1984) have also questioned the motives of the Peace Corps. They argue that the presence of the Peace Corps in several areas of the country led to the expansion of marihuana consumption, the facilitation of contacts between the North American drug traffickers and the local ones, and the learning of new ways in which cocaine could be refined and utilized. In these years, the connection of the barrio's people 88 with the local drug economy and with drug trafficking in United States was solidified. The presence of the Peace Corps and the consolidation of the drug economy in the barrio are events that further illuminate some of the regional and international trends taking place during these years. From a political economy and world system perspective (Nash, 1994) the events that took place during the 1960s in Barrio Antioquia serve as an example of the ties between a local, marginalized community and a powerful "underground" global market. In sum, we can highlight how local events and economies interact with regional and global trends. La Blanca Los Mejias, a family of five brothers, are remembered in barrio Antioquia as the pioneers in the "business" and "dealings" with the United States. They grew up very poor in the barrio and went on to become very rich, but never forgot their "origins." Their business with "la blanca" - cocaine - bloomed after a few trips to the U S A . 3 7 Upon their return to the barrio, they were often seen driving fancy new cars and wearing expensive and spectacular clothing. They moved to El Poblado, a traditional upper class neighbourhood that underwent a profound transformation during the 70s and the 80s when it became the residence of many drug traffickers. The loyalty of the Mejias to the barrio nevertheless remained intact, and they were frequently seen hanging out in the bar "El Baliskd" doing their business, drinking, and helping anyone in need. According to their camajan and malevo influences, they combined their ability to take risks, to fight 3 7 Locally, the expression used to refer to United States is "la USA." 89 and evade the authorities with a spirit of social delinquency that emphasized the protection of the poor as a key duty (Jaramillo, 1994). Sebastian, my research assistant, remembers that they were "famous" in the barrio ".. because of their humanitarianism and charity and besides because they made sure the barrio was respected." The New Years eve tradition was to collect money, buy a pig for the block, kill it and roast it in an open fire lit in the middle of the street while people drank and danced. The Mejias provided the pigs for those in need and helped anyone who needed it. Dona Ruth 3 8 recalls that the Mejias got into the business through the feared Matias [the Conservative brothers] who had the political connections and knowledge of government bureaucracy to establish relations and links with the United States' drug cartels. Similar family and barrio links would allow many other local and national emerging drug lords to establish themselves.39 In the 1970s - 1980s, the barrio represented a key realm for community activity and for the construction of social networks of communication, solidarity, self-help and exchange (Riano, Y. 1996) 4 0 A sense of community had developed for the masses of urban poor who could not find meaningful or inclusive links with a city that continued to exclude them (Riano Y , 1998, 1998a; Riafio, P, 1990). It was precisely these informal social networks, constructed from units, such as the block, the extended family and/or 3 8 Dona Ruth's parents were also one of the first families to arrive in the barrio. Dofta Ruth was born in the barrio and has maintained a close contact with many people because of her sewing services. 3 9 There has been a close alliance between narcotrafficking and politics. While traditional structures like the family and neighbourhood provide the network of loyalty and committed labour needed for the trafficking, the political alliances provide the links and open the doors required to move the drug without getting caught. 4 0 The barrio as a socio cultural unit has been documented for many communities in Latin America. See Arturo (1994), Martin-Barbero (1993); Riano (1991, 1991a), Vargas (1985). 90 groups of childhood friends, that the local drug lords would appropriate to build their network of support and labour. By the end of the 1970s, thirty regional textile industries were facing their worst financial crisis while Medellin's unemployment rate increased at a faster pace than in the rest of the country. This is the moment when a drug economy based on the traffic of cocaine took hold (Salazar and Jaramillo, 1994). The drug industry took root in the regional smuggling traditions that date back to the nineteenth century mining activities and the commercialization of gold and that have continued until today through the smuggling of cigarettes, liquor and stereos from the United States and Panama, and since the early 70s with the trafficking of marihuana (Betancourt and Garcia, 1994). Barrio Antioquia's proximity to the city airport provided a strategic site for smuggling and trafficking. Dona Debora, the principal of one of the elementary schools, could not "believe her eyes" when she saw an army truck being filled with some pressed marihuana found in her school yard. She wasn't sure how the marihuana got there, although there were rumours that someone threw it there [from an airplane] in anticipation of a search. By the mid 1970s, the cocaine industry was booming and Colombians had established themselves in Miami and Queens, New York. On both the local and the national level, these years saw the widespread influence of Marxist theories and leftist politics on social movements, the working class, students and the organization of the barrio's grassroots groups and activities. Although many barrios in the communes41 of 4 1 Medellin is divided in six urban zones and sixteen communes [see Map # 4]. A zone includes an area of several barrios from various social and economic levels. A commune is a division of the zone that includes barrios of similar social and economic levels (Diagnostico Social de Medellin, 1996). 91 Medellin became actively involved in leftist politics and received the radical influence of the Theology of Liberation movement, barrio Antioquia was never affected by these influences. These organizations, in a paradoxical similarity with the Antioqueflo elite, avoided places that were associated with the underground world or the "lumpen," seeing them as unable to develop a class-consciousness. Travellers to the "USA": The Seventies Griselda Blanco, formerly a prostitute, went to the United States as one of the many pick pockets who left the barrio to try to make it up North. Griselda, a friend of the Mejias, established herself in Queens and later moved to Miami. By 1979, she was the best- known cocaine smuggler in the United States. Variously known as the "Godmother", "Black Widow" or the "the Coca queen," she headed a strong organization of cocaine trafficking (Gugliotta and Leen, 1989). Her success was achieved by operating her organization like a family 4 2 and through the establishment of a network of widows and women in general who travel from Colombia to the States carrying cocaine in their custom designed underwear.43 The 1970s are when the boom of the mules44 began and today many in the barrio affirm that there has been at least one mule from each street of 4 2 Griselda became known for her "ruthless violent practices" and was compared with "Ma" Barker, an American gangster of the depression era who ran what was literally an organized crime family. The U S Federal judge who condemned Griselda and her first three sons to long terms of imprisonment said: "If there ever was a case , other than the 'Ma' Barker case, that truly has demonstrated what a mother's influence ought not to be, it's this one. [...] This is the most incredible thing I have ever seen." (Eddy, Sabogal and Walden, 1988:61) 4 3 A line designed by Griselda to carry a kilo or two of cocaine in secret pockets. 4 4 "Mules" are those who individually transport small quantities of drugs. the barrio. Others go further, convincingly affirming that since those years "almost half of the barrio" travelled to the United States. Dona Amparo, Fabiola, Ofelia and Dona Ruth, all of them grandmothers today, grew up with Griselda. They all remember how they were offered such an opportunity: 3.3 Dona Amparo: They looked for their mules to do the trip for them. They made so much money, and those who wanted to could stay there... so easy because nobody searched them, and so many people went. I never did because my mother wouldn't allow me, else I would've gone and I'd have a little savings now. Even after I married they came back... they would say "Go, and we'll pay you so much per trip." So people would go... A man came once and said "I know you're in bad shape, why don't you go?" and I was really tempted. p/BA/20-10-97] It was not just the living, however, who were coming back from the "USA". During the 70s, barrio Antioquia's people gathered at the doors of houses in an attempt to see bodies in coffins been brought back from the States. It was then that the "tradition of bringing back the muertos," those killed in United States, began. Gabriela, the first muerta to be brought back, wass dressed in an ivory colour dress made with elaborate and expensive handmade laces and matching silk ivory shoes. Women, men and children gathered around her coffin to admire her beauty and the sumptuousness of her dress and coffin. Pestanas, Griselda Blanco's second or third husband, was the second one, and after him many more were to follow, particularly during the time of the "cocaine wars" in the USA (1970-82) and as the traffic of mules increased. The strong cultural influence that the narcotraffic was to have on the culture began to show across the city. Contact with the United States intensified people's attraction to show off gold accessories, cars, metal and other items of conspicuous consumerism. The functioning within an organizational structure of the local mafia was deeply rooted in the Antioqueno culture. Paradoxically, the flow of money promoted a 93 return to old rural values and behaviours that were becoming extinct. Ownership of property in the rural areas, the devotion for the image of the virgin Maria, a passion for horses, and the value of the spoken word were some of the emerging manifestations that exemplified this return (Arango, 1988). Those who succeeded in the USA renovated their houses in the barrio by adding more floors, installing windows and aluminium fences and doors, decorating the front of their houses with shiny stones and marble, colouring their walls and furniture with pastels colours, and adding white-ribbed columns and fountains. Gigantic radios, and later ghetto blasters, and gold-plated ornaments became central decorative pieces. Those who went to live in E l Poblado, the patrones, were also transforming their residences and opening a furniture and antique market that had traditionally served a small clientele, Their houses were decorated with generous Buddhas, Chinese china, marble statues, Louis XV fimuture, phosphorescent paintings, gold faucets, things that the refined tastes classified as loberias [of bad taste, camp]. The luxurious cars mixed with horses for public exhibition, the ranchera and carrilera [a type of Country music] music played in exclusive places; and the knives yielded to fire guns. (Salazar, 1997:135) A Troubling Image of Youth Sebastian remembers Salome as a warrior, "a true warrior woman ... a woman of three balls." While growing up in the 60's, Salome became a well recognized and respected apartamentera [house thief working in a semi-organized gang] in the barrio. She was a member of the gang called El Secre, a group of skilled apartamenteros. This gang was one of nine groups of apartamenteros active in the barrio during the late 70's and early 80's (see Map # 5). They professed an ethic of respect for the barrio and its 94 people, and did their "business" outside of the barrio. The barrio was the place where they grew up together and the place where they felt a sense of belonging. There was an implicit agreement to keep their delinquent activities outside of the barrio's boundaries and to never make a target of a neighbour. As the groups grew in numbers, their illicit activities attracted the police to the barrio. In the Callejon del oeste [the alley of the Wild West] and other alleys, barrio Antioquia's neighbours would witness from terraces and windows the apartamenteros movements on the streets from sidewalk to street, or from roof top to roof top. Continuing the tradition of previous generations, the apartamenteros hung out in bars and streets. Like everyone else in the barrio, they were actively involved in the fiestas, weekend celebrations or special celebrations, that since the 1940s bring the barrio together in bars, streets and heladerias [ice cream parlour]. Marta, Marcela and La Flaca, 4 5 teenagers in the 1980s, were partying at a place known as La Virgencita when a fight broke out between the three young women and the girlfriends of El Tata and El Secre. Having "demonstrated their verraquera [toughness, lack of fear] during the fight," Marta and her friends were invited to join them. With the apartamenteros, they developed the observation and communication skills necessary to distract house residents and carry out "clean" robberies. Because the apartamenteros began having deeper conflicts with each other and with gangs from other barrios and because the opportunities to work for the drug economy increased, the muchachas [the girls] accepted the 4 5 Marta, Marcela and La Flaca told this story to her childhood friend Diana, my research assistant. They are in their early thirties and have returned to live in the barrio after a long absence in United States. 95 "invitation" to travel to the USA. Diana, my research assistant, recalls what happened then, 3.4 .... Se calentaron [they got all worked up], and because they were so verracas [tough] after all they'd been through [it was suggested] that if they wanted to, they [the traffickers] would send the muchachas "all packaged up", and then they would take care of themselves once there. By then, the wars of the apartamenteros had begun, and shootings, chases and revenge killings became common. El Monus was an apartamentero whom many wanted to kil l but they were unable to because he was too fast and skilled with guns. Luz Elena 4 6 witnessed many of those events, and recalls that the only way they were able to kill him was from the back. Diana recalls the "war" of Marion and La Tata that, in one weekend, left eleven bullet-ridden dead. By the 1980s, Medellin's drug lords were well established, and their business was booming. Soon enough, however, they needed backup from the local informal networks. The barrio, as a socio-cultural unit and hub of lively relationships of vecindad (friendship and kinship), would become the ideal source and pillar to build a vast base of support for the drug cartels. Young people, harshly hit by unemployment,47 were attracted to these activities, and their informal organization into galladas became a functional structure within the complex network and organizational functioning of the drug economy. A 4 6 Luz Elena came to live in barrio Antioquia with her son Sebastian and her father in 1975. She lived close to the hang out and hiding place of the apartamenteros. Luz Elena participated in several of the memory workshops and today is an active community leader. 4 7 This generation of youth was facing the effects of a regional industrial and economic crisis, a more competitive labor market and a lack of economic opportunities that made the unemployment rate grow at a faster pace that anywhere else in the country. generational shift took place, and since then violence in Colombia became associated with youth 4 8 The drug cartel also appropriated the strong ties between youth and neighbours who lived in the same block and barrio. For marginalized youth, participation in the drug economy represented a unique opportunity for social and economic mobility. Youth gangs and criminal activities became an attractive option that promised money and prestige. In a period of less than five years (1985-1990), there were reports of the existence of one hundred and fifty barrio gangs through out Medellin, thirty percent of which had direct ties to the cartel (Salazar and Jaramillo, 1994).49 The presence of the cocaine business triggered youth involvement in criminal activities, specially as sicarios [hired assassins]. Youth responses, however, went beyond their involvement with the drug cartel. Many of these gangs, lacking contacts or "professionalism," directed their activities to kidnapping, car thefts, the assault of commercial institutions or offering their "killing" services to anyone. Across the city, in poor, middle and upper class neighbourhoods, men and women, young and old joined the networks of the drug economy, and followed the 4 8 This shift in the figure of the typical violent subject to someone with a young face is explained by Carlos Mario Ortiz (1991) as originating within two types of organizations. The first of these groups were guerrilla-type groups who used violence for political or "revolutionary" purposes, and second were the narcotraffic organizations that recruited youth. Youth found both types of organizations highly attractive because of the opportunity they offered to learn how to use fire arms and to receive military training -in the case of the guerrilla- and because of the possibility of obtaining access to money and changing their economic status. 4 9 These gangs were not evenly distributed. Thus in the North eastern zone, one of Medellin's poorest and most populated, there were 87 gangs while in the South western zone where barrio Antioquia is located there were only six gangs documented by the army and police. The small numbers of gangs in this zone corresponds with the mixed residential, industrial and mostly middle class origins of the barrios located in this zone. The real number of gangs was probably higher because many went unregistered (Salazar and Jaramillo, 1994). 97 directions of bosses, which for first time, were from a poor social class origin. The legend of Pablo Escobar who grew up poor in Envigado, half an hour away from barrio Antioquia, spread across the city, the country and the world. Don Pablo, like the Mejias, never forgot his origins and his loyalty to his people. He generously gave money, and built social housing projects, and sport facilities for the people who remember and revere him to this day. La Quica, Popeye and La Chirusa, some of Don Pablo's chief deputies, ,' visited Barrio Antioquia often to do business, social exchanges or temporarily hire a pelao [a kid] to run some errands or deal with some unfinished business. By the mid 1980s, the inhabitants of Barrio Antioquia could differentiate the gangs of apartamenteros from the more established and "higher flying" gangs of El Coco y El Baliska who had links with the oficinas50 of the drug cartel. The organized drug cartel needed "cleanness;" often local petty crime, excessive drug consumption and activities such as begging were seen as an interference to their activities. The pelaos who wanted to join them would "show their seriousness" (by not committing petty crime and by keeping drug-consumption under control) while gangs like Los Chinos in barrio Antioquia, a gang of small bandits and ladronzuelos [unsophisticated thieves] were dismissed and became victims of "social cleansing" enterprises.51 Haunted by dreams of money, the symbolism of firearms, the rhythms of a "fast life" and the attractions of conspicuous consumerism, barrio Antioquia's youth, like thousands of others across the city, made killing, violence and territorial control a daily 5 0 The oficinas were formed by organized gangs who became the intermediaries for the bosses demand of services. 5 1 The social cleansing enterprises were carried out by vigilante squads who took it upon themselves to 'clean up' the barrios affected by the stealing, drug consumption and violent acts of the youth gangs of muggers. activity. As many youth became sicarios or involved in other related actions, violence and death became hallmarks of the landscape. The killing of high profile politicians from the left and the right, of judges, ministers and many political activists proliferated in the country, and with those killings, the image of the sicario came to be associated with that of a young man. This image of a young male, dispossessed of ideological affinities and privately paid to eliminate someone, illustrated the shift that was taking place in the country. Private justice and revenge became accepted and legitimized means of dealing with conflicts at any level of society. At the same time, the credibility of the formal system of state justice was further eroded. The sicario became an institution driven by a market of supply and demand used not only by the drug cartels but also by business people who feared kidnapping, cattle and ranch owners facing economic risks, threatened politicians and military officers. These groups were the intellectual agents who maintained an open market for young men demanding "professionalism" and precision in their activities52 (Ortiz, 1991). During the first years of the 1990s what was happening with the youth gangs in barrio Antioquia was not much different from what was happening in the barrios of the North Eastern and Central Eastern communes or in neighbouring barrios, such as Santa Fe and the municipality of Envigado. The stereotyping and stigmatization of youth took root with the increased involvement of youth in violent activities. In the national and 3 2 There are close resemblances between the process that maintained the pajaros during the violence of the 50's and the sicarios. In both instances, there were actors who had political or economic interests in exterminating their enemies and who provided intellectual justification for such actions by pointing to the indisputable inadequacies of the justice system. In both cases, justice and revenge became a matter of individual or private resolution. (Ortiz, 1991) Ortiz points out how this form of violence was also used by cattle ranchers from the regions of Cauca, Cordoba and Sucre to exterminate or intimidate peasants and indigenous people who were organizing themselves to fight for their rights. 99 ( regional mentality, the North Eastern commune became a "nest of sicarios," and the image of a young person became equated with violent behaviour. For youth in barrio Antioquia, experiencing stigmatization and exclusion as residents of barrio Antioquia was nothing new; however, the focus was now on their generation. The effects of this new wave of stigmatization were felt in terms of fewer jobs and educational opportunities and a generalized negative attitude towards youth. The experiences of stereotyping and exclusion for these youth, on the other hand, worked as a boomerang, further contributing to the spread of youth violence (Ortiz 1991). In the race for money and recognition, death statistics and victim profiles changed dramatically on a local and national level. The victims of homicide were now mostly young men. Statistically, 90% of homicide victims were men and 85% were between 13-38 years old. In cities like Cali, Bogota and Barranquilla, the trend of violence followed the same pattern of a substantial increase in the death rate by firearms and the concentration of victims in a particular group (Camacho and Guzman, 1990). By 1985, homicide became the first cause of death in the country, a trend that remains until today. Colombia had become one of the most violent countries worldwide, reaching an average of 77 homicides per 100,000 people per year. By 1991, the city of Medellin was showing a much bleaker picture reaching a rate of 381 homicides per 100,000 people (Region, 1999). Busy Streets The streets were the hub of life in the 1980s. Local street characters like the loco Azula walked the entire barrio collecting food leftovers. Alicia la galletera [Alicia, the 100 cookie seller] dressed in colourful clothing with costume fantasy jewellery on her hands, neck and ears sold her cookies on the streets to amused children who followed her around. Children could be spotted on the airport runways throwing rocks at the departing airplanes, searching for leftover airplane food, tracking kites or running full speed as the airport van chased them off the grounds. At night a horse with a headless rider was said to drag a set of heavy chains and his ghostly trotting was heard inside the houses. Amid the sounds of lively conversations, Salsa music and dancing filled the night life of the barrio. A woman dressed in transparent white and high heels tapped on the streets until she reached the light post by Dona Chinca's house and vanished exactly at midnight. The parades of the Virgin del Carmen, Easter processions, and Halloween and Christmas celebrations were all collective events that brought everyone together on the streets. Chun, the leader of Los Chunes gang, watchfully walked those streets, and the rumour went that if he wore a black jacket it meant that there was "chulo fljd" [announced death]. Chun was the last to die in a family of three brothers.53 The first to die was Pina, the youngest, then Pepon, the middle one. After the death of his youngest brother, Chun was taken over by hate and a thirst for revenge. In late 1989, the Chunes joined many other gangs in a new and very lucrative business sponsored by the drug Cartel: the killing of police officers. The death of the three brothers is linked with their involvement in this activity. Chun's gang is further remembered in barrio Antioquia as the first one that crossed the ethical boundary always respected by those before them, namely, the barrio, its celebrations and its people were off limits. With the Chunes presence, the barrio became a more likely scene of horror. The Chunes would alternate between jobs outside 5 31 collected many of "Chun's stories" particularly from young men and women. The events described here are a composite of several of these stories. 101 the barrio and jobs inside the barrio that involved stealing, robbing, killing and the use of rape as a vicious weapon for threatening their enemies or settling accounts. Until 1989, the Medellin drug cartel had enjoyed several years of relative freedom and tolerance as a result of their contact and direct penetration into all sectors of society: government, politics, religion, entertainment, army and the police. Their revengeful acts against judges, ministers and politicians and the killing of very high profile politicians, however, finally brought an energetic response by the national government and regional authorities. In August 1989, the government started the strongest offensive ever taken against the drug cartel. The drug cartel responded with terrorist actions: powerful car bombs that destroyed buildings and killed hundreds of people, assassinations of judges, high-ranking politicians, and kidnappings. In Antioquia, the Army started an offensive against the gangs of sicarios as a way of weakening the social base of the drug cartel. For this purpose they legitimized all kind of actions that were mostly carried out by death squads54: disappearances, torture, massacres, collective searches. In the month of June 1990 alone, there were one hundred and fifty youth killed in twenty different massacres. In turn, the drug cartel responded by 5 4 The commission for the study of violence defines death squads as arising and developing: "as either a replacement or an extension, through arms and violence, of the government entities in charge of administering justice and maintaining public order [...]. These bands direct their acts of extermination against political movements and parties, opposition leaders, union members, and sectors presumed to be sympathetic to the guerrillas. They also targeted the marginal sectors of society, which supposedly breed forms of delinquency that the squads try to eradicate with cleanup operations in the large cities." (Commission, 1992:268) There is a realm of "legality" to their actions by the National Defence law 48 of 1968 that permitted the army to organize and provide arms to groups of civilians called "self-defence" units. At the end of the 1970s, death squads appeared in the city. Salazar and Jaramillo describe three kinds of death squads. A parapolicial squad that was focussed on the elimination of thieves, bandits and kidnappers; a mafia squad that was devoted to the killing of judges, police, witnesses and people who interfered in their activities and a third one known as "Association for the defence of Medellin" that defined themselves as administering punishment "with an armed hand" to criminals and government workers that do not fulfil their duties. 102 killing police officers. By June of 1990, one hundred and sixty police officers had been assassinated in the city and the number continued to increase (Revista Semana #426, 1990). The young people of barrio Antioquia remember 1991 and 1992 as years of confrontation with the police and as the years when the CAI - a small police office placed in the barrio- was bombed several times. Similar actions were taking place elsewhere in the city and in all the other major cities of the country. Medellin, it was finally admitted by the government and political forces, was at war. The first six months of 1990 are remembered by the city dwellers as the worst in their history. Bombs, killings, kidnappings and insecurity spread over the city. The situation of crisis was addressed by the national government through the creation of the Consejeria Presidential de Medellin, an office that was in charge of advising the president on matters of conflict, peace and social programming for Medellin, and on how to channel national and international funds for the development of infrastructural works in Medellin's poorest areas and the generation of economic and employment opportunities for youth (El Espectador, June 2,1991). Nationally, these were also very difficult years. The country had seen some of the worse violence, this time characterized by the terrorist actions of the drug cartel meant to exert national pressure against the approval of the extradition law. They created a climate of generalized terror through the kidnapping of politicians and journalists, and the explosion of powerful bombs in airplanes, high-rises, shopping centres and streets. These years, however, showed a striking contrast between violence and peace with the emergence of a democratic and participatory movement that drafted a new constitution. The new constitution declared Colombia a "pluricultural" country, and increased the participation of civil society in the 103 political decision-making processes. In 1991 a constitutional assembly convened" with a broad representation from all political, ethnic and social sectors of the society. Many Colombians thought that the worst of the violent tensions were over in 1993 when Pablo Escobar was gunned down and the government began to destroy and weaken the operations of the large Medellin and Cali drug cartels. But like the repercussions of decree 517 in Barrio Antioquia, the sequels of this period created other effects. When work with the oficinas of the drug cartel was reduced, many of the local gangs turned to their territories to seek opportunities for recognition and money. The control of territories in Barrio Antioquia, and in other parts of the city became a key resource for these youth. The epoch of the big war between the drug cartels and the government was temporarily over, but the period of the local wars had begun. With this change, our task of taking the local history as a way of illuminating regional and national history is challenged because the connections are no longer clear and, at times, the events seem to highlight the further disenfranchisement and fragmentation of this community. In the pages that follow I outline some of those connections and dynamics of fragmentation and multiplication of violences that would come to characterize the 1990s. These years brought important democratic and social initiatives, but they were also the years in which Colombia, entered into a dramatic polarization of the conflict and an erratic fragmentation of the landscape of violence. 5 5 The 1991 constitution is a foundational document that prioritizes pluralism and inclusion (to insist on the inclusion of indigenous communities as well as Afro-Colombians) and provides new channels of political inclusion (Rodriguez, 1999; Tickner, 1998). 104 Local Wars "Assassins! Brothers of Cain! Demented!!, Stubborn!!" screamed Padre Alejandro, his face turning very red, during the 200 funerals he headed in the barrio's parish between 1992 and 1993, 3.5 Padre Alejandro: Six gangs of muchachos [kids, lads] dedicated to killing, mugging, robbery and to conmutting the stupidest of crimes. The ease of criminality spread throughout the barrio and invaded the mentality of the young. They killed here and there, robbed and attacked, and all this grew to a peak of tremendous violence, in '92 and '93, very frightening: there were so many dead, more than 200 youth killed in the barrio. The bodies would appear morning and night. The boys would form gangs that couldn't tolerate the sight of each other, it was a struggle that created so much pain, so much violence, and put so many dead into the cemeteries. [I/BA/ 23-09-97] Padre Alejandro recalls that most of these youth were between 14 and 18 years old, "none of 40 and four in between 23 and 30." With the disappearance of Los Chunes in the late 80s, three other gangs emerged. They continued to be active as hired assassins in the transportation of cars, motorbikes and in kidnapping activities. These more "professional" activities were combined with an exercise of control of territories, the robbery of food and beer trucks that circulated in their territory and the administration of a tax to the local stores. These three gangs joined together to fight the gang of El Coco that had a more established relation to the local mafia. The "war" among these groups would leave many dead, and after a period of three years these gangs were almost extinct. By 1992, however, there were six gangs: El Coco, el Chispero, La 24, La Cueva, Los Calvos and Santa Fe. These six gangs engaged in a complex and changing web of friendships, alliances, distances, enemies and conflicts that challenged many of the implicit ethical and physical boundaries of safety within the barrio. Los Calvos made an alliance with El Coco to fight El Chispero gang. Although the two gangs had not been in 105 conflict with each other before, friendships changed overnight when the chain of moving loyalties and rumours was unleashed. La Cueva had a distant friendship with La 24 and had a declared conflict with El Coco. La Cueva and El Chispero joined to fight against el Coco. And then, there were those from Santa Fe, from the neighbouring barrio. Santa Fe initially had a close relationship with la Cueva but ended up fighting with them later. Omar, Alberto, Aldemar and Sebastian each belonged to a different youth gang in those days. Today, as they reflect on the wars and the conflicts, they are short of explanations about its origins (see Map #5). By 1993, the barrio was facing the worst wave of violence it had ever experienced. It was a time that Milton, the leader of one of the youth gangs described as "high pressure, diarrhea", the time of the war between six gangs for the monopoly and control of the barrio. The figure of the guapo had lost much of his definition as a skilled fighter, and as a resourceful and sharp thief with a style of clothing that marked its difference. The image of the Rambo warrior inspired these youths who were fascinated by firearms and who embraced the logic and pleasures of war as a leading value and clothing as a sign of status (Ortiz 1991). The local territory was enough for these groups to prove their ability and sharp skills to fight, use firearms and hide, and the changing conflicts provided them with the stage necessary to demonstrate the "verraquerd" that would grant them local recognition, particularly from women. At night youth with large jackets would patrol barrio Antioquia while during the day, the transactions, the wait for the business opportunity, the shootouts and the rumours went on. The actors of violence in barrio Antioquia multiplied at the same time that they appeared and disappeared overnight. Hate, revenge, desire for recognition, the settling of 106 Barrio Antioquia: Groups, Apartamenteros and Gangs. 1970-1997 (Map 5) • \}* T r * " * " * mini " accounts, disloyalties and the manipulation of stronger outside forces overlapped and triggered endless small wars, making futile any attempt of making sense of the origins of the local "wars" and the reasons why they continued. Everyday life was constantly disrupted by violent events. Cesar5 6 was thirteen in 1993. He was at home alone, feeling lazy as he hung out on the balcony. Suddenly, he saw his house fill with more than a hundred people who had been watching a soccer game in the park. They were seeking refuge from the shooting that had erupted in the soccer field. An astonished Cesar witnessed how the two bathrooms, the area underneath the beds, the closets and the kitchen filled with scared people. During the hour they stayed, fear turned into laughter as they shared jokes and stories. When the sounds of shooting stopped, they left and thanked Cesar. In order to go to school, Sebastian, who lived four blocks away from the high school, had to walk more than twenty. He avoided walking through a sector controlled by the gang of El Coco, which was at war with the gang of La 24, a gang Sebastian was identified with just because he lived in the sector they controlled. With the increased frequency of shootings and deaths in the street, the night life in the bars and the time spent wandering and partying came to an end as did a tradition of rumba and celebration that had always been at the very heart of Barrio Antioquia. Cesar is 16 and a member of the youth group "Juenfu" of Barrio Antioquia. He shared this story with the group during the elaboration of the mental map of the barrio in June, 1997. Cesar was a very active participant in the memory workshops and sessions and one of the close collaborators who accompanied me in several walkabouts, visits and photograph taking sessions. 107 The multiplication of violence and the spread and diversification of the armed actors were also taking place nationally. Since the end of the 80s, the proliferation and growth of armed actors involved in what has been called the macro-violences challenged any attempt at reading the Colombian conflict in dualistic terms or as a conflict triggered by a single aspect such as politics, ethnicity, religion, poverty or class. The guerrilla groups, particularly the F A R C and the E L N , demonstrated a steady growth in the number of combatants, controlled territories and subversive actions. The power of the various cartels involved in the drug trafficking business remained unchallenged and the right-wing paramilitary groups attested an unprecedented expansion throughout the national landscape (Salazar, 1993). Locally, the urban militias gained a strong presence in more than sixty barrios of Medellin and the death squads continued with their clean up campaigns directed mainly at youth associated with either the guerrilla, the consumption of drugs or the perpetration of crime (Commission for the Study of Violence, 1992). Pigs for Peace The collective memory of Barrio Antioquia says that on December 31 of 1993, Eduardo Roldan, el patron, gave a pig and a bottle of aguardiente to each one of the six gangs in conflict and that peace was made.57 The patron asked the gangs to stop the war that had taken the lives of more than two hundred young people in less than a year. Although institutions, leaders, the barrio's priest and people from the community were involved in making the peace process possible, the event is remembered as a roast pig 571 heard this version of the peace process from many residents of barrio Antioquia including community leaders, some of the youth involved in the conflict, and women. 108 and aguardiente affair with the patron. Anderson, an ex-gang member remembers that day, 3.6 So one December they said there was going to be a peace and I didn't believe it. I honestly didn't believe it because this was very big. Or they killed you or ... So then they were giving out roast pig and everybody was so happy, that December, what a party ... eating roast pig. [... ] For me that was the best moment of my life, that Christmas, for me it was like being bom all over again. [MW-JAC/BA / l 0-06-97] The gangs agreed to a pact of coexistence and non aggression and to meet with the municipal advisor for citizenship security, the mayor and other municipal officers to negotiate economic, training and security alternatives. With the pigs and the aguardiente, the gangs made a verbal agreement not to fire their guns anymore. Later in January of 1994, they made another verbal agreement that included a principle of non aggression, sanctions for those who did not follow it, employment opportunities for these youth and human rights workshops. Meanwhile a number of economic and employment alternatives were negotiated and the municipal administration made the commitment to obtain the libreta militar [military pass]58 for these youth. For a few months, the barrio's people regained their sense of freedom to circulate and to celebrate. Twenty of the gang members were employed in street cleaning. Others received training in shoe making and repair, painting and hair dressing, and there were even plans for youth to work at restoring the barrio's river and parks. Even though the peace lasted only a few months, it did last longer than the fleeting employment opportunities that had been promised to youth. 5 8 In Colombia, all young men physically and mentally qualified are required to serve in the Army for a period of a year. After they finish the service, the army issues them a pass. Most jobs demand this pass as a requirement for hiring. 109 During the peace interval, many of the young people who had signed the peace pact were assassinated. The peace was broken a few months after the signing of the agreement when another local war erupted between the gangs of El Cuadradero and El Coco. It was then that the muchachos learned that there was a hidden agenda to the peace pact. For the outside forces of organized crime, the peace pact was an opportunity to do a "cleaning" that guaranteed there would be no chivos [tattletales] around. Gabriel, a member of the gang of El Cuadradero, witnessed this peace and death process, and today affirms that, "the same drug cartel made sure that the kids killed each other." Milton, the leader of the gang of El Cuadradero gives his version of death in peace and why they "had" to end up involved in a new war, 3.7. We weren't involved in that conflict, we werepelaos sanos [clean-living guys]. Students, good guys ... what we did we took seriously, nobody knew what we were up to... that peace [referring to the 1993 peace] was for the gangs of the Cueva and the Coquito... like this cucho (referring to a local drug lord) took advantage of the Cueva gang and took them all out... in the middle of the peace he had them killed one by one... he said there was no problem, and then bang-bang he killed them all. So afterwards the people from the Coquito wanted to monopolize the barrio. We were clean living, but we had to get involved in the conflict. [MW-GC/BA/07-10-97] The economic and training alternatives did not work. They were set up as temporary relief programs, and the youth never received the military cards that would allow them into the workforce; furthermore, nobody had a clear vision of what was required for the successful reinstalment of youth in society. As padre Alejandro says, 3.8. The big mistake we made was to have told them to drop their guns and grab a broom, a shovel... it was a total failure and a situation for which we had no experience. The youth were not properly equipped to reintegrate into society. [I/BA/23-09-1997] At the end of 1995 a new peace agreement was signed, and new verbal agreements, training programs, promises of obtaining the military cards and employment no opportunities were made to a new group of youth. Since that time, the movement between peace, high-pressure conflict, and negotiations has continued. Between 1995 and 1998, two other peace agreements were negotiated and two new wars erupted. The patrones were usually involved in bringing the gangs together to talk and agree on peace. However, the rumours kept circulating that once at peace, they will take the advantage to carry out a "cleaning." When a peace agreement was signed or close to being signed, the communities and the youth gained hope and reacquired their lively use of the streets and were able to join in neighbourhood celebrations. In the city of Medellin similar sectoral peace agreements made and broken with gangs of youth from the Central Eastern and North Eastern communes and with the urban militias (1994). Nationally, a similar oscillation took place. The administration of President Cesar Gaviria negotiated peace agendas and agreements with several guerrilla groups but the peace negotiations with the two largest and oldest guerrilla groups the FARC and E L N failed (Restrepo, 1997). Peace, at a national level as in Barrio Antioquia, was a mined terrain in which hidden and not so hidden agendas could not come to terms. Desperate to show results, the government searched for negotiations with smaller guerrilla groups, such as the native guerrilla group, "Quintin Lame," two fractions of the Popular Liberation Army and with the Urban Militias of Medellin. The agreements with the urban militias were signed in early 1994, shortly after the six gangs of barrio Antioquia ratified their peace agreement. The national, regional, and municipal governments welcomed in these two processes and used them as examples of their political will to negotiate with the armed groups (Palacios, 1997).59 In 1997, when I carried out my fieldwork, barrio Antioquia continued to live in the oscillating movement from "peace" to "war." At the same time, however, the community activity was attesting an unusual growth in the recreational, cultural and educational fields. For the first time in the barrio, a group of women and youth were taking leadership in their community. These new leaders shared a vision for their barrio, and in that vision history, culture and children offered the means to reconstruct a sense of community and a lasting peace, that would lead to the creation of living alternatives for the new generations. "Por que, a pesar de tanta mierda, este barrio es poder?" This chapter described local historical events that underscore key historical dynamics of the country's last 70 years. This review began with the rural origins of a barrio of artisans and the formation of an economically prosperous city, moving through the marking events that characterized some of the cultural traits and social dynamics of the barrio. The accounts of the lived experience over several periods of violence in the barrio and the conformation of a local economy, social networks and informal organizations around the drug economy provided concrete examples of how the local 5 9 The characterization of the urban militias as political actors has since then been widely questioned since the evidence of the militias participation in "delinquent" activities is ample. Palacios (1997) argues that the government was willing to overlook this aspect of their activities and to grant them recognition as insurgents in order to save face, and retain some credibility for their peace initiative. 112 processes were part of larger regional and international processes. The parallels between local history and national trends were clearly highlighted up to the 1990s where we noted a movement inwards to a succession of events that did not necessarily parallel national trends, and a movement outwards towards increased diversification and fragmentation of the actors in conflict. The inclusion of those events that were recalled as most significant for the residents of barrio Antioquia illustrated some of the underlying themes of the conflicting and unequal dynamics of a city like Medellin: the dynamics of a multileveled violence, the impact of policies of exclusion, the forces of competitive markets [both economic and political] and the interplay of morals, economics and political interests in the implementation of policies and regulations. Methodologically, throughout this chapter I have attempted to provide examples of how oral sources can engage with written sources to reconstruct the multiple and overlapping layers of the local telling of the past and the ways memories inform the practice of history production that was outlined at the beginning of the chapter. According to Muratorio (1991), this interplay of historical traditions allows for a dynamic interrogation of the oral and written traditions and for an interpretation of the transformations of the community life over time. In doing so, the history of memory and the history of events both in barrio Antioquia and regionally have shed light on each other (Roy, 1994). Several questions remain open about the social fabric of a city like Medellin and a community like barrio Antioquia: why have barrio Antioquia's inhabitants continued to claim a sense of belonging and rootedness to their barrio despite the profound impact that the dynamics of violence have had on its social fabric and on their personal lives? In what 113 ways has memory managed to preserve some of the secrets of cultural and social survival? How does memory work, particularly in a society like Medellin, where violence, as the privileged system of communication, has managed to silence many areas of daily life? The point of departure for my exploration is founded in another question, one I saw written in an improvised blackboard on the main street intersection of barrio Antioquia: Por que, a pesar de tanta mierda, este barrio es poder? [why is it that, despite all the shit, this barrio is power?] The graffiti question certainly leads us to some of the key questions with which this thesis is concerned: to the realm of daily life and the lived experience of violence and power, and those more subtle ways of surviving -physically and culturally- and making sense that are generated by individuals in highly discontinuous and unpredictable environments. This question suggests the presence of an implicit local knowledge constructed outside the immediate layer of lived experience where the "shit" dwells. This knowledge provides barrio Antioquia's residents with the resilience, creativity and imagination to continue making sense of the barrio as a meaningful place of their own, as a barrio that is power. In the chapters that follow, I shall continue to explore this hidden presence of knowledge and power by delving into a powerful underground "market," namely, remembering and forgetting among the urban dwellers of Medellin. 114 Chapter 4 Remembering Place: Making and Sensing Places Place-heart-memory: here is a genuine mysterium coniunctionis which yields heart as the place of memory, memory as the place where heart is left, heart as what is left of remembered place. -Edward Casey, "Getting Placed: Soul in Space. " This chapter explores the connections between people, memories and violence through an ethnographic account of the cultural practices that make places in Medellin meaningful. The chapter examines a) how places are culturally constructed by Medellin's city dwellers—called here place making and b) how city dwellers invest these places with significance-which I will refer to as sense of place. I approach places as physical, social, mnemonic, imaginative and sensorial realms that are actively constructed by individuals through experience and through the ways these individuals situate themselves in the surrounding environment (Basso, 1997; Casey, 1996). As in a palimpsest, places in Medellin have become mnemonic marks where layers of memories overlap. Places are marked by memories of death, destruction or fighting as they can be haunted by images of horror and destruction, but the memories of group rituals, local myths or collective moments of encounter inhabit these places as well. Place making, in this sense, constitutes a historical, imaginative and identity making practice that is not a simple derivative of our relationships with space, but that connects people's experiences with their memories and desires, and with the ways they inhabit the world (Basso, 1997; Casey 1987; 1993; 1996; Feld and Basso, 1996). Sense of place describes the sensorial experience of individuals in their living environment and includes 115 those acts and means which they use to locate themselves. An inquiry into place making is an exploration into the ways in which places naturalize different worlds of senses (Basso, 1997). The senses, Seremetakis (1994) argues, are a collective medium of communication and meaning-generating apparatuses that operate beyond consciousness and intention. In Greek, the word for senses is aesthesis, which means emotion-feeling, and thus the Greeks established a semantic circuit in which the sensorial is intertwined to agency, memory and history. I shall argue here that in the city of Medellin, where the last fifteen years of political, everyday and drug-related violence have profoundly affected daily life, memory has become a bridging practice that allows city dwellers to make sense of the living environment as a vivid social and relational milieu. Practices of memory, in this context, restore a sense of place to the experiences of displacement, discontinuity and fragmentation that violence inflicts on people's lives. In the following pages, specific examples are introduced of these practices of memory and of the ways places are culturally constructed and made significant by Medellin's city dwellers. Encountering Place During a memory workshop with youth workers from the city of Medellin, 1 Hector, a youth worker and a poet, stood up in front of the group to name a place in the city that triggers significant memories and emotions to him: 1 This workshop took place on April 17, 1997 with the participation of twenty-seven youth workers. These workers are involved with governmental and non-governmental organizations across the city working with youth in a variety of programs such as: youth leadership and youth organizing; conflict resolution and peace processes; recreational, educational and cultural programs. 116 4.1. Hector: Playa Avenue ... There is a time I remember, that has marked me, that has marked this city, and that is between '87 and '89, in this city there were at least 10 poetry workgroups, and I remember once, in one week, we launched seven poetry magazines, and I remember it was precisely the same time when they were doing so much killing in Medellin, [but] there were also many recitals [...] So one would leave a recital at the National [National University] and then the next day go to another at the Antioquia [Antioquia University], and then back to the one at the Medellin, and there was a moment, during the famous curfew, the worst, worst moment, the day that Juan Gdmez [the city's mayor] lifted the curfew, that was a recital that no one missed. Playa Avenue was packed, it was amazing, and we rolled out poems, we rolled out tragedy and that day we wanted to pay tribute [his voice breaks] to a friend.., one of the youngest poets, they killed him and another pelao [kid] around the Oriental avenue [...], he was smoking bareta [pot] and after (crying)... they institutionalized Poetry in Medellin, and everything ended up in goddamned festival... (silence) Hector's sense of this place is made from the memory of an intense lived experience as well as from the emotions and images brought forward by events such as the death of his friend, the commemorative act, the presence of poetry in the streets and the city curfew.2 The physical space of the avenue takes on new meaning, one that is not restricted to spatial boundaries but re-created in memory by his sensorial experience of having been there and having lived an uniquely remarkable collective experience. It introduces us to some of the ways in which Medellin's city dwellers encounter and make places: by re-membering and reconstructing what happened in a specific place through storytelling, by drawing out specific kinds of knowledge about life in the city, by apprehending a place's physical uniqueness, by naming or renaming a place, by establishing landmarks, and, as Hector says, by recognizing they ways that places and events have "marked" them. The years Hector is making reference to were brought up in almost every session or interview I had with Medellin's city dwellers. For some those were the feared times of "the bombs" when the Medellin drug cartel imposed a climate of terror in the country. Everyday life was affected quite dramatically for all those living in Medellin as the probability of a bomb anywhere in the city was very real. Hector's narrative is also revealing of other circumstances that took place during those years. Poetry survived and co-existed with violence, poetry circulated on the streets that were often the site of the explosions, poetry defied the city curfew, and poetry also suffered the pain of death. Sensing of place is one of the most basic dimensions of human experience and one that is highly informative of our relationship with the environment and the landscapes that surround us (Basso, 1997; Casey, 1996). Places constitute physical, social and sensorial realms for our actions, as well as, for our memories and imaginations. Place making is a cultural activity that all of us "do" in order to locate ourselves meaningfully in the environment we interact with. My inquiry into place making is concerned with its capacity to trigger memory and imagination, to connect people to a sense of history and to reveal some of the ways by which we come to define who we are and where our sense of rootedness and belonging comes from. Memory Landmarks: a Walkabout \ Thus, by one insightful account, does the country of the past transform and supplant the country of the present. That certain localities prompt such transformations, evoking as they do entire worlds of meaning, is not a small or uninteresting truth. Neither is the fact, which he also appreciated, that this type of retrospective world building -let us call it place making- does not require special sensibilities or cultivated skills. It is a common response, to common curiosities -what happened here? Who was involved? What was it like? Why should it matter? - and anyone can be a place-maker who has the inclination. And every so often, more or less spontaneously, alone or with others, with varying degrees of interest and enthusiasm, almost everyone does make places. As roundly ubiquitous as it is seemingly unremarkable, place making is a universal tool of the historical imagination. And in some societies at least, if not in the great majority, it is surely among the most basic tools of all. Keith Basso - Wisdom Sits in Places In April of 1997, Kelly 3 led me in a walkabout around the Central Eastern zone. A reconstruction of this walkabout and of the ways Kelly located herself in the environment 3 Kelly is a youth leader from the Central Eastern zone and an active participant in the city-wide Youth Network. She has a keen interest in youth, environmental and cultural issues. Kelly is a gifted story teller who took me on two walkabouts. 118 illustrates the tools and acts of place making in an urban environment like the city of Medellin. During one part of this walkabout, we visited the older barrios where Kelly grew up and began her community work. We got off the bus in the barrio 13 de Noviembre, a barrio of busy streets with many people walking, visiting, talking, and with children playing. The barrio's bus stop is surrounded by a small park that has a privileged panoramic view of Medellin's valley where the downtown, the industrial area and the middle and upper class neighbourhoods are located. Surrounding the valley are the mountains where we stood among with the hundreds and thousands of houses of the poor. It is a drastic topographic differentiation that the writer Fernando Vallejo (1994) has described as the visual manifestation of a social and economic gap between the city of abajo [below] the atemporal (intemporal) Medellin, and the city of arriba [above], the "hot,"event prone and marginal Metrallo1: one city surrounding the other awkwardly, embracing it with a "Judas hug." Kelly shows me the "one surviving green area" that her ecological group wants to protect. Looking towards the peak of the mountains, we observe the endless sets of narrow stairs that allow residents to circulate up and down the steep foothills where their houses stand. Rows and rows of multileveled houses are separated simply by very narrow cement-stairs that run vertically. Tiny roads of endless turns meet the stairs and take people to their houses. Kelly points up to the barrio Isaac Gaviria and to an area further up that she describes as calientisima [very hot, in conflict] and dura [tough, risky] because of the ongoing shootouts. Walking on the main road of the Barrio 13 de Noviembre, we observe that a street under construction goes in the same direction as the 4 He is playing with words as in Spanish a machine gun is called ametralladora. 119 stairs - along the slope of the mountain. Kelly notes that this is the first street ever to be built in that direction, typically streets are built perpendicular to the mountain's slope, transversally. Pausing to reflect, she concludes that in the area there is a "culture of the transversal street" because streets never run diagonally. Her conceptualization of this as a "culture of the transversal street" captures not only an urbanistic trend but also a distinct sense of direction and movement that is attached to walking/using the streets. A sense that is in contrast with the sense of direction and movement experienced when walking up and down the stairs. As we move from one barrio to another, we observe the raw vegetation, an abandoned irrigation ditch [acequia], and a collection of stairs that became a winning ecological project of her environmental group. Their plan was to take the old irrigation system and the abandoned multilayered set of stairs as the central features of an environmental park. Water would fall down the stairs and the area would be fixed with benches and terraces while the surrounding vegetation and trees would be preserved. Her group called "El sueho de las escalinatas" [The dream of the staircases]. Kelly fondly remembers the inauguration day: a huge water-tank-truck hosing water down the stairs and hundreds of children and young people playing in the water. Unfortunately, that was the one and only day water ran down the stairs, as an appropriate technical study had not yet been conducted and there was not enough slope and water pressure to keep the water circulating. During our walkabout, Kelly points out the landmarks that situate her in places like the Sueho de las escalinatas, or the Cerro de pan de azucar, a majestic hill and a natural landmark that is seen and admired from all over the city. Kelly's sense of place takes this cerro as a location and landscape referent, a sense that is enriched by her childhood memories of many paseos [outings, hikes] and fun. Her attachment to the cerro is now marked by the knowledge that the cerro is a hiding and operating territory for the local militias, and a place of high, risky circulation. Barrio Villatina is another important referent for Kelly because it is the place with which some of her significant childhood memories are associated. In barrio Villatina we stop at an empty and dry area where, in 1984, five hundred people died when a mudslide devastated the area. Standing there, I am struck by my sensing of a powerful silence, a silence that I experience as a soundscape of noisy-silence that penetrates the environment and the experience of being there. Further up, there is the site where the mudslide started described by Kelly as a huge chilling hole. The mud slide area there are several crosses. Kelly takes herself back in time and remembers how she got news of the mudslide at school. She ran home, got changed and then volunteered to help. A volunteer's bracelet was placed around her arm and she went on to help, but could not do it because she could not stop crying. Now Kelly points towards an empty and deteriorated soccer field that reminds her that it was there, in her commune, where violence was eradicated through sports. The peace accord between fighting youth gangs was settled and negotiated using soccer games as the major symbol and means of reunification.5 This agreement was working quite well until one day while the soccer teams took a break, a mudslide covered the 5 As early as 1989, there were several gangs from the barrio such as "los barbados, " "losporkys, " "los de abajo " who were fighting one another. Each gang belonged to a different geographical sector in the barrio: la piedra, la escuela, la capilla. The war between figthing youth gangs had its harshest period between 1989 and 1993, a period in which numerous young members of the gangs died. The first peace agreement was negotiated in 1993. 121 field. Since then, Kelly says, the peace agreement has weakened and the youth gangs are now back in conflict with one another. We enter the central sector of the barrio Villatina. Kelly asks me to guess which is the house that serves as an army base. A block away, I observe a typical barrio house surrounded by a barricade of sand bags. Soldiers with camouflaged urnforms of brown and ochre spots and with heavy machine guns stand in several corners. For many years, the community of Villatina has been fighting to get the government to recognize the responsibility of the military in the 1992 massacre of nine youth who belonged to the local church youth group.6 The case has been reviewed internationally by various human rights bodies who have recommended that the community should be compensated, and that the government should give a formal apology and issue a statement of responsibility. The government has recognized the army's authorship but has not compensated the community. Kelly explains that these days the army has made an alliance with one of the gangs in order to fight another gang and that there have also been collaboration between the army and the gangs to fight against the militias. The stories of alliances among all the armed sectors and their changing fights and enemies abound.7 The militias are found in the barrios higher up in the city's mountains. The militias arrived in the area after 1993 A group of fifteen heavily armed men came that evening and attacked a group of youth who were talking and listening to music in a corner. Nine of these youth were killed. Parents and friends of the victims organized themselves into a group that claimed for justice and developed a solidarity movement. Uribe and Vasquez (1995) argue that the poor origin of the barrio, the influence of the Christian-based communities and the presence of the guerrrilla movements were seen by the death squads as indicators of a dangerous zone and focus of delinquent and militia activities. The barrio, and particularly the barrio's youth, became a target for death squads. 7 Jaramillo et al., (1998) explain that during their research on conflict and political culture in Medellin, they learned of alliances between enemy gangs to fight a militia group, between the army and some gangs to eliminate the militias, between the police and the militias to eradicate the "pillos," or between the army and the militias, the gangs and the militias, and the paramilitary and the militias to fight other militia groups. See Jaramillo et al., (1998). 122 and with time have become very powerful. Kelly comments on how their location on the higher levels makes things more difficult for everyone because they can watch everything from up there. Watching is a key element of survival for everyone; for some it is about controlling territories, for others it is a matter of circulating in a safe manner, and for the many living in high risk areas it is a matter of surviving natural disasters and violence. Kelly tells of a barrio where the families take night shifts watching for mudslides. On the streets of Villatina, we meet several people, some of them from the local community groups. In Villatina there is a long tradition of community work that is rooted in its origins as a squatter and pirate settlement and its development through self-help and collective work. In the mid 80s, the guerrilla movement M-19 established a "peace camp" there after they signed a peace pact.8 Youth were recruited to join the peace camps that combined political work in the community with training in the use of firearms. In the 90s, when the M-19 became a political movement, the residents of the area voted for them. At this point and after having walked across barrio Villatina, we finished our walkabout. This walkabout with Kelly documents the prolific relations between people and places in Medellin. Events and experiences such as the barrio's foundation and settlement, the daily individual and collective survival struggles, the ways public spaces 8 During the truce of 1984, between the national guerrilla movement M-19 and the government, the M-19 organized "peace camps" in two barrios of Medellin and some in Cali and Bogota. These barrios were selected because of their poverty and their strategic location close to the mountains. The M-19 practiced in these camps some of the rituals, symbols and dynamics of an army: hymns, flags, hierarchies of order and discussions about political work with the poor. Youth were very attracted to this, "We organized a "patio de armas" where every morning there were formations to hoist the flag, sing the hymn and shout slogans. It was like a bomb. Piles of youth began to arrive. The war summoned them rather than peace, even if this was in the symbolic terrain." (Vasquez, 1997:17). When the truce broke and the guerrilla returned to the armed struggle, most of the youth trained in these camps were not interested in following the M-19 to the mountains. Instead, they remained in the barrios and used their new knowledge to create feared gangs or join the militias. 123 have been used as spaces for socializing and the territorial tensions and restrictions within specific locations influence and give structure to Medellin's urban dwellers' experience of place. The practices of landscaping, landmarking and circulation are the tools used for place-making. Through the practice of landscaping, individuals capture those meaningful sceneries such as the multilayered set of stairs that situate them in their everyday living environment. Landmarking is the marking of territory through the identification of key points of reference. In this walkabout with Kelly these points included the cerro pan de azucar as a natural landmark and the site of the landslide as a mnemonic landmark. The practice of circulation refers to the ways people move along streets, stairs or walkways and the sensorial experience attached to these movements, like in the practice of walking on streets that run in a transverse direction. The skills of place making are illustrated in Kelly's ability to circulate and recognize the social features of places and in her competence in capturing and re-creating the memories that dwell in places. Place Naming The practice of place naming by urban dwellers, youth, women or elders in environments like the large city has been largely ignored in anthropological literature to date. Anthropological literature on place naming has mostly focused on places and names amongst native people (Basso, 1997; Cronon, 1992; Cruikshank, 1990; Fox, 1997). Place naming has been examined as a key cultural practice that situates people's minds in historical time and space, connecting them with their past and bringing forward a repertoire of local ancestral knowledge and stories. In this section, I discuss the practice of place naming in Barrio Antioquia, an area where the practice is very much alive. In examining the evocative power of place names among the Western Apache people, Keith Basso explains the cultural significance of speaking with names. Speaking with names is about producing a mental image of a particular geographical situation in order to evoke historical tales and sagas. The sensorial familiarity with the surrounding landscape is at the root of a cultural competence for recognizing place names, and the stories, images and topographic features they evoke. Naming is also about affirming the value and validity of traditional moral precepts and often is a means of offering practical advice for dealing with disturbing personal circumstances or for commenting on the moral conduct of an individual who is not present. Cruikshank (1990) has done similar work in the Subarctic revealing the mnemonic capacity of place names and the rich ways in which their persistence describes a rich "mythscape." In this sensuous, mnemonic, mythical, and linguistic landscape, names become metaphors that spread information and provide ways to encode information, describe the surrounding environment, and speak of very complex ideas with the simplicity and richness of one word. Names speak of people's strong attachment to landscape and also convey practical information about the fauna, topographic, and cultural features of the landscape. Basso has pointed to the value of exploring place naming for its capacity to communicate the conceptual frameworks and verbal practices with which communities appropriate their geography (Basso, 1997). In this section, I will examine the communicative practices of place naming and the meaning attached to place-names while searching for the conceptual tools that urban dwellers apply to make sense of and interpret their surrounding environments and the ways that they inhabit and occupy them (Basso, 1997). 125 Moral Lessons and Myth-Names In September of 19971 was at Diana's house with two other women, one about the same age as Diana (around 33 years old) and another who was 18 years old. They were talking about a video recording made that day of the barrio's history. In their conversation, they mentioned "el callejon del infierno" [hell alley]. I asked them about the name and Diana responded that the name was given because a muchacho, who was a "drug addict," killed his mother there. Diana described how the muchacho was desperate to get drugs and how his friends told him that he could only get them i f he killed his mother and brought her heart back to them. This young man was so desperate for drugs, Diana emphasized, that he killed his mother with a dagger, pulled her heart out, and began running. Running through "el callejon del infierno" he stumbled and fell, his mother's heart slipping from his hands. From the ground, her heart spoke to him: "mijo se aporrio mucho? " [Son, are you very hurt?]. Diana finishes her story by saying that for this reason the area is called "el callejon del infierno." As I listened to Diana, the contents of the story sounded familiar. I mentioned to Diana that I had heard the story before somewhere outside barrio Antioquia. Diana emphatically tells me that the story is unique to barrio Antioquia. Her grandmother told it for many years and she died several years ago. The other friend, her age, agreed but the youngest woman said that she had never heard the story before. Diana suggested that I check with her mother-in-law who also tells the story. Later, I shared the story with a friend and as I retold it, I remembered where and when I had heard it before. It was in June 1997, during the International Poetry Festival that takes place every year in Medellin. The final night in an open-air theatre, sixty poets from all over the world read 126 their poems to an audience of more than 2,000 people. One of the poets was Nedzad Ibrisimovic, a Bosnia-Herzegovinian poet who read a poem that deeply engaged the public and received a very warm response. His poem was about a young combatant during the Bosnian war entrapped in the spiral of war-violence. This young combatant kills his mother, pulls her heart out, runs away and falls down. On the floor her heart asks whether he is all right. Many moral lessons can be derived from this story, particularly in an environment like barrio Antioquia where drug use is widespread and the picture of a young person challenged to cross moral and ethical boundaries is also common. This is a threshold situation as the boundary that this young man crosses is one of the most "sacred": respect towards the life of a mother, a revered icon among the regional culture.9 Although the story's "authenticity" is locally contested and not believed by everyone in the barrio, it illustrates the social knowledge and moral repertoire that circulates through places and names and the ways they become collective symbolic texts that make reference to mythical material. The origin of the story and its similarities with Ibrisimovic's poem suggest at their mythical qualities and the ways bodies, subjects and relations have been worked within different geographical and cultural contexts to exemplify similar core cultural values at risk, and fissures generated by the impact of extreme violence in the ethical and social fabric. 9 Traditionally, in the Antioqueno family, the mother has played a key role as the center of the domestic world. With the economic and social crisis of the region during the 70s and 80s, this role was accentuated by the increase of households headed by women and single mothers (Salazar and Jaramillo, 1994). Salazar (1990) has documented how youth gangs' re-creation of elements such as the Catholic religious practices and the spirit of retaliation from the traditional paisa culture has provided them with a kind of ethical backdrop to their violent actions. Thus, the symbology and beliefs of Catholic religion were integrated into their cultural practices and particularly a devotion to the figure of the Virgin. Here "God has been overthrown. The virgin gave him a coup d'etat." (Salazar 1990:197). The virgin is a closer, feminine, loyal, and more permissive figure to whom they pray and ask for good luck because she is a mother. Changing Names, Changing Dynamics "El quinto", the name of another street in the barrio, illustrates another type of social knowledge in circulation and further illustrates the descriptive power of place naming: 4.2. Elsa: El quinto [the fifth]... because it was like the fifth block of the Bellavista Prison. From the houses on the street they sold all sorts of drugs. One passed by there and everybody was like this (she crouches down on her haunches). In the prisons the inmates are like that, offering marijuana, everybody smoking... [MW-TC/BA/20-06-97] Previous to "El quinto" the street was called "el callejon del oeste" [the alley of the Wild West] for its resemblance to the "American West" that barrio Antioquia's inhabitants had seen on T V series: ongoing shootouts, marks of gunfire on doors, fights, male bullies, and all kinds of illegal transactions. Both names capture a mood that is sensed in this place, a dynamic and a movement that takes place in this block at a particular time. Both names have rich descriptive qualities that focus on the social dynamics rather than on the geographical features. The names work, in this case, as visual and comparative metaphors between the actions taking place in the streets and the images they evoke from T V or from prison. The changing name of another one of the sectors in the barrio, "El Chispero," suggests a similar kind of historicity in place transformation and social dynamics. Martha and Lucia explain the name changes, beginning with the name of Marquetalia, 4.3. Martha: Marquetalia Street., was behind the Health Centre by the new street that opened afterwards. I've heard that they called it Marquetalia because some man who was very nasty lived there for a long time and he was called Marquetalio, and after he died they named the street Marquetalia... After that Los Chunes came and started to hang around the corner, about 7 years ago. [... ] I guess they were called Los Chunes because one of them was named Chun. Anyways, they all hung around the comer and gathered together to smoke marijuana and so the place was called El Chispero. 128 Lucia:... First because they killed there and later because there were so many chispas [sparks] lit up (by the smoking of crack and marijuana). [GS-TC/BA/16-07-97] The names change as the dynamics of the place change. In a pictorial way they convey practical information about the emplacement of violence and its social actors. Places and their names are tools that the barrio's inhabitants use to relate to the surrounding landscape with a heightened awareness of who is present, what is happening and what could happen. The awareness also comes from a developed typology of places ~ according to degree of risk and intensity of conflict. This typology is applied to qualify the names of specific locations not only in this barrio but also in many other barrios of Medellin. Territories and places are classified and named according to the degree of risk/safety and the activities taking place there. The denomination of "hot" places [calientes], for example, describes places that are in the middle of a conflict and where a person may run physical risks. The denomination is rich in linguistic variances that indicate the various degrees of danger: hot, burning, boiling, etc. Chapter six examines this characterization of the mood of places and territories. Places change names, as the barrio, the social situation and the individuals change. In the two cases cited, the change of the name reflects the change of activities, social actors and social dynamics taking place. The callejon del oeste was the name used when this street was at the centre of the conflict because it was the territory of the gangs of apartamenteros. When the activity of drug dealing transformed the dynamics of the street, it was renamed as el quinto. Name changing, therefore, is part of the history of the barrio and is illustrative of the stories, interests, and powers that are captured and contested in a name. In the case of barrio Antioquia, the history of its name changes exemplifies how social stigma and exclusion are shaped by policy and religious 129 interventions and also how a community's practices of naming resist and re-create this. A community leader speaks of the various names of the barrio, 4.4. Arturo: The first name for the barrio was Fundadores [the Founders], because that was what people from here called it. Not just a name out of nowhere, but because the same people who lived there had founded it. Afterwards they called it Barrio Antioquia because people had come there from all over the Department. The barrio was also known as Korea. When they established a tolerance zone here it became known as Korea because of the prostitutes, the violence, etc. Then came the name of Trinidad with the foundation of Santisima Trinidad church, that about 50 years ago. Father Mario Morales urged us to call the barrio with that name because the names of Antioquia or Founders were stained and he wanted to give things a new face, it was his idea. [MW-JAC/BA/11-06-97] These narratives establish a distinction between the practice of naming and that of "referring to." The name given is reserved for the place where there is a sense of belonging —in this case to Barrio Antioquia, or the name that is officially assigned, Barrio Trinidad. The other names given are modes of reference that describe what happened during a particular period; for example, "Fundadores," names the origin of the barrio, and "Korea" describes when the barrio became a red light district during the 1950s, the years that Colombia sent troops to fight in the Korean war. Barrio Antioquia is territorially divided by its people into sectors: la cueva, el cuadradero, la 68, el chispero, el coco, la 65y la 25, los ranchitos [see Map # 5]. Naming places is a way for urban dwellers to locate themselves in distinctive topographic referents and differentiate between sectors, dynamics, social networks and relations in the barrio. In barrios like Villatina and barrio Antioquia, solidarity and friendship networks are primarily attached to the sector you live in. Naming the sector one lives in is a way of identifying "where I come from." The sector becomes the unit where there is a feeling of rootedness and where ties of friendship, solidarity and help are closest. In the climate of violence and social conflict that has permeated these barrios, the name of a 130 sector has also become the main means for differentiation. Inside barrio Antioquia, for example, there are territorial and place differences that mark and define who relates to whom, what type of communicative interaction people engage in, and one's way of walking and circulating. Outside of the barrio and when speaking to outsiders, however, it is the name of barrio Antioquia that brings everybody together. Barrio Antioquia's inhabitants are proud of their barrio and when they are away their longing is for the barrio as a whole. Home Far Away From Home Throughout the years, the number of travellers from the barrio to the United States has remained high, with some of them staying away for long periods of time and others travelling back and forth. In the American "North," barrio Antioquia's inhabitants have tried to "re-construct" a sense of place by re-creating the barrio's ambiance and relations and remarkably by place naming. A sector of Queens in New York is called the "Barrio Antioquia of the U S A " because, as Don Ruman, says "Queens is where you can always meet someone from the barrio." Don Ruman, a long-time resident of Barrio Antioquia, describes to Sebastian, my research assistant and a barrio's youth leader, how naming evolved, in the USA : 4.5. Ruman: ... I'm from 77, the first year that I went.., but the big majority went to work at whatever they could find: washing dishes, running errands, in the factories, whatever... Yeah, there would've been one or two who had some bad habits, like the carteristas [purse snatchers]. But they realized one thing, and that is that gringos don't really carry money in their purses, only credit cards, and back then we didn't realize what a credit card was. So they would steal the purse and throw away the cards! [... ] After that came the height of the ... the powder, and then yeah! people really began to travel. I've.been told, by somebody from there in the United States, about the cocaine business, about the business going on in the cafes. They examined the "goods" and counted the money, right there at 131 the tables [of bars like] Las Acacias, La Fonda, Gran Colombiano... eh, what was it called? ...La Herradura, Ahoranzas... I don't know HAfioranzas was there at that time, but at that place everybody ended speaking of the business, all those people. Sebastian: Where exactly were these places you speak to me of? Ruman: In Queens, exactly on Rusbel Avenue, all this was more or less on Rusbel Avenue, and at certain times, this was called ... for example, a place called La Fonda, but everybody called El Baliska [name of the most popular bar in the barrio in Medellin]. Imagine! It was the meeting place for all the people from Barrio Antioquia, to meet, chat, do business... and they ate there too, because it was a Colombian restaurant... they've told me that the restaurant, not the whole business, but the restaurant, was Dofia Alicia's, the wife of that man from the Mejias,10 [the one they call Majapo? asks Sebastian], exactly! His wife was the owner of the restaurant. They used to serve bandeja paisa [a regional dish, a tray with beans, rice, fried plantains, pork rind, eggs, arepas and cole slaw]... so everybody got together to enjoy the good food, and as a place to meet, right? But then the police began to come down hard on those places, and that scared people. [I/BA/11-12-97] The links of this community with the distribution of drugs have re-created local social and place referents. Place referents that relate to the larger city of Medellin are practically r non-existent among Barrio Antioquia inhabitants. The non-existence of these city referents is mostly attached to the stigmatization and exclusion that barrio Antioquia's people have experienced since the 1950s when the barrio was declared as the city's red light district. In contrast, place referents that are located in the United States are well recognized. But as the previous narrative suggests, the practice of place naming and reconstructing place is one of imagining and re-constructing "home" far away from home. The feelings of longing experienced in a foreign land where these people live in an ongoing situation of risk are placed in the bars, restaurants and streets where they meet to remember "home," to learn about what is going on at home, to listen to music from "home" and to eat. 1 0 As indicated in Chapter three, the Mejias were the first in the barrio to establish the connection for drug trafficking in the United States. 132 The prevalence of place naming among the residents of Barrio Antioquia can be seen as a way of maintaining a sense of place that is nurtured by the historicity of the events evoked by the name, by the biographical and mnemonic texture that is attached both to the place and its name, by the moral lessons that may be drawn from the stories they tell about places, and on occasion by the accuracy of the residents' topographic and physical descriptions. In this urban context, place names have less of a continuous and commonly shared history than in the communities discussed by Basso or Cruikshank; nevertheless, place names are imbued with creative ways of naming that evoke past stories, foundational myths, emotions, moral lessons, or powerful descriptions of physical and social features of the place. Place names, in this context, provide city dwellers with mental images that guide their practices of walking, circulating and interacting and become cultural resources that direct them in their daily life. The Memory of Things Seen For the ancient Aztecs, in tlilli, in tlapalli, la tinta negra y roja de sus codices were the colors symbolizing escritura y sabiduria (...) An image is a bridge between evoked emotions and conscious knowledge; words are cables that hold up the bridge. Images are more direct, more immediate than words, and close to the unconscious. I write the myth in me, the myths I am, the myths I want to become. The word, the image and the feeling have a palatable energy, a kind of power. Con imagenes domo mi miedo, cruzo los abismos que tengo por dentro. Gloria Anzaldua - Tlilli, Tlapalli: The Path of the Red and Black Ink. In a memory workshop with youth in Barrio Antioquia, 1 11 heard the stories of Arlex and Johana. Each of them constructed an image out of cut-outs and placed it on a 1 1 This workshop took place in May of 1997 with the participation of twelve youth. This workshop was the first of a series of group memory sessions. 133 square base for a memory quilt about the "war."1 2 The stories they told were framed in landscape and topographic referents, and revealed the sensorial experience that walking and street wandering have for these youth and the variety of meanings given to the natural surroundings. Johana, born in the barrio and twenty years old, described the night that, Figure 9 Johana's quilt image 4.6. Johana: I want here to represent the night. That day they had killed my best friend Camilo. Let's see, that day I was sleeping in my house, and he knew he couldn't go there [to an alley] because he knew they were trying to kill him, but I don't know, cuando uno se va a morir la muerte lo busca [when you're going to die then death will find you]. That day he was over there and when he got to the comer they were waiting for him and they killed him, then the boys ran in and dragged him out of there ... up to 25th, and then got to the comer where I live, then my little sister ran in and woke me up and told me: "Johana, Johana, they killed Camilo." When I got outside they had him halfway down the block, and so I couldn't really do anything, I left and went with them to the hospital but he was already dead; that day they killed another guy too. So ... with my drawing I want to express my sadness when I realized that they had killed my friend. Johana also expressed her satisfaction with the making of an image for the memory quilt, 1 2 Youth in Barrio Antioquia refer to "the war" as the period in the early 90s when the barrio was territorially divided in six sectors. The "war" was between the gangs that controlled each of the six sectors. 134 I liked it... because by doing it I could identify myself as I wanted to and I represented it as it was or was for me, how I felt it [MW-YG/BA/30-05-97], In representing the event of the death of her friend, Johana captured through colour and form, and later through narration, the meaning and impact of this event in her life. As she expressed satisfaction at her representation of the event, we understand that it is the memory of an intense visual, sensorial, and placed experience that assists Johana in creating her image. This is the memory of "things seen" that illustrates the dialectical relationship between memory and image production and the ways they inform and operate through each other (Melion and Kuchler, 1991). Johana's image is a powerful one that gives central importance to those physical features of the place where her friend was killed and the place where she last saw him. Walls and streets take a central role in locating her emotions. This centrality of streets is certainly one that stands out for any visitor to Barrio Antioquia as it has the widest streets I have ever seen in a low-income barrio in Colombia. In contrast to the great majority of low-income neighbourhoods, barrio Antioquia is located in a central area. It is laid out on flat terrain and surrounded by Medellin's old airport and the industrial area. In Johana's image, the action takes place in the middle of the street. These are streets widely used for social and recreational purposes, and they play a central role in the social life of the barrio. Their importance is now celebrated in a yearly festival called "Calles de Culturd" [Streets of Culture]. The festival brings people, local schools, institutions and organizations together in a celebration with music, street parades and troupes, poetry, mimes, art and local economic activities. The calles de cultura festival, the Easter and Virgin del Carmen processions, the Halloween parade and the Christmas celebrations are all recognized as "neutral" events/places respected by everyone. The tacit agreement for 135 everyone in the barrio is that these activities are not to be disrupted with any kind of violence and that these are occasions where circulating through the entire barrio with the parade is possible. The landmarks in Johana's image are also attached to specific physical structures (e.g. buildings such as "Medias CristaF, the site of a sock/garment factory where many people of the barrio work), landscape features such as the trees, and the streets and alleys where residents can or cannot walk. Soundscaping Music is a key element of the barrios of Medellin's acoustic environment. Music blasts from buses, houses, comer stores and bars without creating any conflict or bothering any one. The scene of two gigantic speakers standing outside a house while loudly playing salsa, ballad or disco music is common in barrio Antioquia and in many other barrios. Musical sounds, it can be said, are very much engraved in place and are key descriptors of the ways places are sensed. In a previous talk with Arlex, he brought to my attention music's power to make people recall past events and to describe collective feelings and social memories. His idea was that music is the key tool for activating youth's remembering because music has the power to take you back in time and place. Arlex's quilt image recreates a green area on the outskirts of barrio Antioquia, an area with very old trees and a ravine. This image and its narrative also includes a soundscape as part of the experience of sensing places. Arlex described, 4.7. Arlex: Here I represent that time, ok? Like the time was of la violencia [the violence], anyway this here was like a ravine, [in] the La Cueva sector. Yeah, so then all this was all bush, the river, the ravine, anyway. So I represented this because me and a buddy, actually one time me and a bunch of buddies were there, everyone en su discurso [minding their own business], talking, and one of 136 them made this comment: The day that I die put this record on, because it signifies everything, [Arlex plays the song Siempre alegre of Raphy Levitt]. So this record, it always brings me good memories: One has to pass through life always happy After one dies what is it worth You have to enjoy all the pleasures Nobody knows when one is going to die As life is short I live it And enjoy it with wine and women I have to spend my life always happy Ay le lo lay, le lo lay (coro) Ay le lo lai always happy. I don't want you to cry for me when I die If you have to cry for me do it while I live. Figure 10 Arlex's quilt image Arlex's image brings soundscape to the making and sensing of place. In his narrative and through his image, soundscapes (the sounds of the natural environment, their conversation and the music), the setting and the events are brought together as important elements of his remembering. The memory of his dead friend is recreated in the natural landscape and it is given content through the song. The song has an instructive capacity, it teaches how life should be lived, and in turn this capacity is passed on to the place. The 137 lesson is supported by a logic that eases the imminence that death has for these youth by stressing the message of life as a simple matter of enjoyment.13 For Arlex, place is experienced through the bodily relation to the surrounding environment (kynesthesia), through his body motions, through the hearing senses, and through experiencing the soundscape. Songs, in particular, have a cycle of social life that gives them representational and documentary capacities; furthermore, they provide guidance to the ways that places are sensed and constructed. The social life of songs makes reference to the periods when the song was listened to most, to the specific events that took place during that period and quite importantly, to the places where it was heard. Later, when the song is played again the events are recalled. In another memory workshop with women from the barrio, they recalled the late 70s through the memory of the song "Dios como te amo" and they remembered the places where they had listened to the song: 4.8. Claudia: It was the kind of music we listened to then. I'm 30, and about 10 or 20 years ago one listened to this type of music... you would pass by some cafe and see people sipping away to it, or when people were really sad they drank along with it too. So you remember those times. [It was listened to] everywhere, since everything was mas sano [out of trouble] in that time, and wherever you went there were people sitting in their doorways listening to music. We had the habit, you know, while cleaning up the house or doing chores, then we'd sit by the door to listen to music, or we'd meet with our girlfriends from school to listen to music, usually Trinidad de Colombia, Vicky, Tormenta... [MW-TC/BA/27-07-97] 1 3 In an historical analysis of youth cultural expressions in the Colombian city, I argued that youth cultural expressions have been shaped by the relations established with music and with the city space. Music, in its different rhythmic manifestations, is a mediating element within the urban experience, providing youth a meaningful field in which to generate differences of style that permit identification. (Riaflo, 1991; 1991a). There is a long repertoire of salsa songs that accompany and provide "guidance" for Medellin's youth. In the memory workshops, youth talked about their barrio's or their group's hymns and symbols. Most of these songs sing to the crude realities of poverty, death, drugs and violence but also expose some of the basic values and logic of loyalties that this generation has accepted. 138 This memory is of the musical landscape and songs that were listened to during a specific period of time. In this example songs become a landscape and template for referring to the past and often a crucial memory aide. The times of party and celebration are another source of soundscape memory. One of the remembered times in barrio Antioquia is when the "entire" barrio learned to dance the Brasilian lambada in the 80s and when the oppressive presence of violence made a mark in the memory of this music and the places it was heard: Journal entry June, 1997. Memory workshop with a group of thirty women and two men from the Barrio Antioquia's Training Centre: Sandra, a widow in her twenties with two girls, plays a tape of Lambada music. The response to the rhythm is immediate and everyone begins clapping, moving, swinging left and right against each other and laughing. Aura and Sandra end up dancing in front of everyone. They dance making wide pelvic movements, lifting their legs up and down, and moving the rest of their bodies to the sensuous rhythm with passionate and dramatic composure. The others follow them by clapping [see figure 3]. Everyone is laughing and moving. When the song finishes, Sandra explains, 4.9. Sandra: Ah no ... I liked this music a lot, and they danced to it in the Antioquia Barrio. Natusha sang it (what year was that? Another person asks), it was in December of 1989. We danced it in a line, everyone got up and formed a train-line, everyone got up (numerous people talking, shouting, explaining)... a really short skirt showing her belly and her hair up in a head band (Natusha was incredible!!) (Even her clothes!) and everyone in a little train, dancing. Back then anyone who listened to Natusha was cool, her clothing was the fashion, they even had contests to see who could dance like her and imitate her the best. [...] Sebastian: ... back then, with that music in a discotheque they made people strip and dance naked, and if they didn't do it they killed them it was in a disco they called La Orquidea. Pilar: Who were these people? Sebastian: A gang, back then they were the Chinos [name of the gang] who lived in El Chispero. [MW-TC/BA/27-07-97] 139 The lambada soundscape described by these women gives a glimpse into the barrio's life and mood during a specific period of time. While music and dance bring everyone together in a community of movement and pleasure, violence enters as an underground marker of the memory and of the music and places where the lambada was heard and danced. Somehow, the pervasive presence and memory of violence have not destroyed the intense and warm memory of the pleasurable times. It is a conflictive co-existence but both sets of memories continue to dwell in places and through soundscapes. This troublesome co-existence names the cultural dynamics at work in places affected by violence and the ambiguity of ethical and social boundaries that legitimize the actions of the agents of violence or place them in the realm of the underground. Figure 11 Remembering the Lambada Sounds During the workshop, Arlex and Johana stood in front of the group to tell their stories as Sandra did to tell and dance. They told their stories with their bodies, their 140 movements, their pauses and their voices. The expressive practice of their telling and the ways they performed the stories imbued acts, events and objects with significance. Their bodies remembered through the acts of bending, walking or dancing, while their remembering became a re-enactment of the events described and of the sensorial experience of hearing, listening and seeing. In these instances the element of performance is closely tied to a body that by the force of habit, rituals, and incorporated practices14 becomes a mnemonic place and artefact, a material organizer of the field of memory. Dwelling Memories are always attached to, or inherent in places; place is the house of memory and memory is the house of place in the soul. Michael Perlman - Imaginal Memory and the Place of Hisroshima Juan,15 a youth leader of the North Eastern zone, speaks of his experiences with las casas juveniles [the youth houses] through the following image. The image and its story engage us with the multiple lived relations that youth establish with places and the processes by which specific locations or physical buildings acquire meaning. 4.10. This here is the horizon, here is a little sun that is rising, a street that goes down, this is me and this a friend of mine; this is a store, and here in the back, here is Dona Rubiela and a sister of hers washing a blood stain that was on the street. This was on the 24 of December, at sunrise .. no, not at sunrise, it was already in the morning. [... ]From '91, that is to say that we put together the casa juvenil from about the end of'89, Giovanny was the last one, but it was a kind of a build-up... from a certain period onwards there began to be many fights, a lot of problems, lots of arguments within the group, so many opted, and we opted, to leave. But I want to make this comment about youth work because la casa juvenil in that moment, and I think it will always be that way, was not something carried out within four walls and a roof. It was more a feeling, like a kind of 1 4 Incorporating practices are those messages that a sender or that senders impart by means of their own current bodily activity (smile, handshake), the transmission occurring only during the time that their bodies are present to sustain that particular activity. (Connerton, 1989: 72-73) 1 5 Juan is a youth leader and founder of one of the youth houses of the North Eastern zone. He has a keen interest in history and social issues. Juan has pursued this interest through his studies in Sociology at the Antioquia university. When I met Juan, he had the project of writing the history of the youth house of the barrio Villa Niza to submit as the final work for his degree. duty; in any case we'd all left the casa juvenil and in December of '93 we decided to put on an event in the barrio. He goes on to describe how, among other things, they got presents for the barrio's poorer children and how they gave them away, Figure 12 Juan's quilt image So off we went... and this is the memory that I have so clearly atada [tied] to the ravine, we grabbed a huge pile of gifts, a pile of things we had ready, and we headed to the ravine, everything in huge bags and boxes (but we did buy some beautiful wrapping paper, says another), which we decorated and headed off to the ravine, I remember now that... we were going along completely overloaded with stuff, and Giovanny, since he was more or less heavy, or muscular (he said he was muscular), so Giovanny was carrying two packages, all full of himself, and the ravine was channelled at a certain angle, and bang!, he slipped and went down. When he tried to get up the guy was slipping back and forth, we just sat there looking at him and the guy says "have you seen nothing you dickheads, are 142 you going to help me or not...?" but he was like that. I think that the following day around sunrise they killed him .. [MW7NE/11/10/97].16 A sentiment, a feeling and a kind of duty, these are adjectives that Juan uses to describe the setting and convey in all that richness the various meanings of "being in place." It is about the experiencing and knowing developed through the awareness and familiarity of "having been there," it is about a body in motion that senses the "qualities" of places (sounds, smells, events happening, risks, etc) and that, in this case, is interpreted by Juan as a memory "tied" to a place like the ravine. In telling the story of his friend and their activities, Juan stepped back from his familiar surroundings and daily life to recognize with full awareness how he sensed places like the ravine or the youth house. Juan's story is supposedly about a community activity but it is also about the killing of his friend and the places where his memories dwell. The narrative is displaced between these two events and an evocation of place that is tied to his memories of friendship, neighbours and community work; to specific landmarks like the ravine; and to images like the two neighbours washing the blood and the thread of blood running down the street, or his friend hanging from the edge of the gully. The grounding of his relation to places is one of implacement: we are or inhabit places through our bodies, by being concretely placed there, There is no knowing or sensing place except by being in that place, and to be in place is to be in a position to perceive it. Knowledge of place is not, then, subsequent to perception -as-Kant dogmatically assumed- but is an ingredient in perception itself. Such knowledge, genuinely local knowledge, is itself 1 6 The narratives told by youth from the youth houses that are quoted throughout the text come from four sessions. The first workshop took place in May 17, 1999 with 27 members and ex-members of the youth house of el barrio El Popular II. The second and third memory workshops took place in October 11 and 17, 1997 with 12 leaders, and with members and ex-members of the youth houses in the barrio El popular I, El Popular n, and Villa Niza. The fourth session took place on November 8 with 15 members and ex-members of these three houses as well as from the youth house of Villa del Socorro. 143 experiential in the manner of Erlebnis, "lived experience," rather than of Erfahrung, the already elapsed experience that is the object of analytical or abstract knowledge. (...) To live is to live locally, and to know is first of all to know the places one is in. (Casey, 1996:18) The three quilt images and accompanying stories were told by youth between the ages of 18 and 25. Narratives dealing with death, friends, and friendships are placed here within natural and urban landscapes where rivers, mountains and street corners become mnemonic, memorial and sensorial landmarks. These youth are marked by death but also by their position as "survivors," as witnesses and storytellers of what has happened in their daily life. In the process of mourning and cultural and social survival, these youth are also giving death a place, "giving-place to death in life" (Perlman, 1988: 22). I shall come back to this idea about survivors and the place of death in life in the next chapter. La Casa ... houses that were lost forever continue to live on in us ... they insist in us in order to live again, as though they expected us to give them a supplement of living... How suddenly our memories assume a living possibility of being. Gaston Bachelard - The Poetics of Space. The place of the youth house as something that goes beyond its physical features to evoke "a sentiment, a feeling and a kind of duty" was repeated in many of the sessions I had with members and ex-members of the youth houses. The house dwells in memory and in the desire to be together, to be part of a group. The architecture of the youth house is constructed symbolically in Juan's story because for the members of the youth houses, the house is first and foremost an emotional construct. The houses changed and moved from one location to another, but the idea of the house as a place of friendship, 144 acceptance and gathering remained. Occasionally, the building itself carries a profound meaning when there is a story of collective effort behind it, as in the memory of this youth about the collective construction of the house: 4.11. Arley: La casa juvenil... the last one that I belonged to was right beside the church, I actually remember a lot because we built it right from the ground level, and finished the interior. We all participated, be that by sweeping up or any small thing, and at the same time each person felt that this belonged to him, because one didn't just go to meetings, but also could say I painted this wall, or I swept up this floor... that was in 92, i f I'm not wrong ... what I'm able to remember the most are those moments ... to in some way structure those memories so that we can see those things that are useful for us today, don't you think? I believe that the most glorious moments of the casa juvenil were then, in that moment, the house was truly something that one dreamed of, and I'd like that to be the case today as well. [MW/NE/08/l 1/97] The house as a physical space also became a place of refuge and an alternative environment to the street: 4.12. Cesar: A beautiful thing about "Open Hearts" (the name of one of the youth houses) is to have entered the process by connecting with many young people, because so many of them hung around there jumando vicio [doing drugs], and they were often harassed by the milicianos [urban militias],17 (and we would tell them) "if you do that there something will happen to you," "if you don't change ..." anyway, there are many of them not around to tell the story, it was very hard in that time. [MW/NE/17-10-97] At the heart of this sense of place was the recognition that it was "there" where they, as youth, were able to make a place for themselves in society. These were years in which the stigmatization of youth from the North Eastern zone as violent and as hired assassins was transformed into a widespread stereotype used to describe and exclude youth from 1 When the milicianos made their presence known in the barrios they took the task of "cleaning" the barrios from insecurity and risk upon themselves. Drug users were targetted by the milicianos with the argument that they had been involved in acts of violence against the barrio's people. Milicianos would give them up to three notices requesting that they quit their drug consumption or their attacks on the barrio's people. If they did not follow their orders, they were killed. Initially these actions were mostly welcomed by the city dwellers as it allowed them to enter, exit and move about in the barrio without the fear of being robbed or attacked. With time, however, many began to question the milicianos form of social cleansing and vertical exercise of power and the denial of opportunities for drug users. 145 this zone. In this context of exclusion, the experience of finding a place in the youth houses marked these youth and the ways they made sense of an extremely difficult period in their lives profoundly. The theme of la casa appeared in many forms in the memories of these youth. For them, the house serves as a powerful image that implies refuge, a place of their own, remarkable memories and also a way of inhabiting and dwelling. The project of the youth houses as economic, social and cultural alternatives for youth involved in the spiral of violence ran into several difficulties. But even i f the project did not succeed in achieving the expected outcomes, the idea of a "house of our own" took deep roots in those who participated in the project and are still alive. This way of place making as an activity of dwelling helps us understand that the relationship between individuals and places is not restricted to the role of places as contexts for action. The relationship also has to do with the ways in which individuals become aware of themselves in relation to the environment that surrounds them, as well as the power of places to situate individuals in that environment. Imagining The link between imagination and place is no trivial matter. The existential question "where do I belong?" is addressed to the imagination. - Walter Eugene, Placeways During my fieldwork, I was struck by the passion that many community workers and young people brought to envisioning and engaging in projects of transforming their 1 8 Chapter three describes the social and political context in which this stigmatization took roots. 146 surroundings into meaningful places of their imagination. I met with this kind of envisioning in the North Eastern zone. Hernan, the director of a local non-governmental organization and a resident of the zone, took me to an area underneath a high traffic bridge that gives access to the barrio Villa Guadalupe and several others.19 That day, we went up the streets in Hernan's scooter. The thought that we were "climbing" the steep hills in such a fragile vehicle made me nervous, particularly when we reached the steepest street and the scooter looked almost perpendicular and felt as i f it was defying the laws of gravity. As we arrived in Villa Guadalupe, he noticed a large number of people walking or waiting on the streets and a large number of taxis taking people to work. Public transit buses were in a kind of strike due to their conflict with the Milicias populares del pueblo y para el pueblo. The militias have been cobrando vacuna [a forced circulation tax] from the bus drivers and the bus drivers, tired of being pressured and killed, made an "alliance" with the army to fight the militias. The conflict was at a very critical point, with three people killed over at the weekend. Otherwise, everything else in the barrio seemed "normal:" children walking to school, women buying groceries, the frenzied activity of the many small shops, and music blasting from many speakers. Years ago, Sylvio, a community leader conceived the idea of building an open-air theatre under the bridge. With the assistance of a local architect, the project was made, but Sylvio never saw it completed because he was killed before the construction of the 1 9 Hernan is the director of the first local NGO that was founded by community activists and community workers in the zone in the midst of the wave of violence and stigma that plagued the zone during the late 80s. Every year this NGO organizes the week for peace described earlier in this chapter. Hernan as a resident and activist of the zone has a deep knowledge and commitment with his work. He is also an anthropologist. I carried out a one day memory workshop with the NGO workers and community activists who were also residents in the zone. 147 theatre under the bridge was finished. Today, a commemorative plaque in the central column of the bridge pays homage to the leader and explains the "baptism" of the theatre with his name (see figure 13) The unique design of the theatre blends with every feature of the landscape. The stairs double as seats and are incorporated into the barrio's alleyways. They are laid out from the bottom of the hill to the top street area and play with a circular motion that follows the many slopes of the craggy land. On each side of the rows of stairs, Hernan explains, stand houses that were beautified thanks to the efforts of their residents once the theatre was finished. The stage is found on the flattest and lowest area. Columns on the north side of the bridge are used for film projection and for storing film machines. The columns on the south side constitute the background of the stage. On one of them, Nemo, a French urban landscape artist, painted one of his urban wandering men. In between the columns on the south side, a community room was built. The red brick walls of the community room and the stage floor contrast with the green grassy area, the yellow stones, and the gray colour of the close to a hundred rows of stairs. Hernan speaks vividly about the project. He describes the past landscape as a smelly garbage disposal area, a feared "hole," a very muddy and slippery terrain and a ravine that was causing major erosion in the steep and deforested foothills while the houses in the surrounding area were sliding. He talks about the efforts and intense work involved in educating the community on the value and future of such a project. His attachment to this place is both sentimental and symbolic, and is one that is shared by many others. Today the landscape is fused with the human and mnemonic energy that is the place of the bridge as a centre of cultural and social activity. Here landscape acquires 148 the richness of a cultural process, as dynamic, multisensual, and constantly oscillating between a "foreground" of everyday lived emplacement and a "background" of social potential." (Htrsch, 1994). Figure 13 Open-air theatre under the bridge This act of place making involves, in a dialetical relationship, acts of remembering and imagining. The quality of the place is experienced here through memory and imagination (Walter, 1988). In imagining this place, Sylvio, Hernan and others projected their view of community beyond themselves, to the realm of imagination, to their ideas about what might be a community. Today, the commemorative plaque takes Hernan back, to "what did happen" and to the memory of Sylvio's death. The bridge, meanwhile, continues to provide a material and symbolic root to his work 149 and his imaginings of the realm of possibilities for his community work. The close ties and dynamic relationship between place, memory and imagining speaks of the relationship between past, present and future that is embedded in the acts of remembering and forgetting. Casey (1993:23) explains: They [past, present, and future] are complementary in character. Just as imagination takes us forward into the realm of the purely possible —into what might be- so memory brings us back into the domain of the actual and the already elapsed: to what has been. Place ushers us into what already is: namely, the environing subsoil of our embodiment, the bedrock of our being-in-the world. If imagination projects us out beyond ourselves while memory takes us behind ourselves, place subtends and enfolds us, lying perpetually under and around us. In imagining and remembering, we go into the ethereal and the thick respectively. By being in place, we find ourselves in what is subsistent and enveloping. Mapping The observation of a map only becomes bearable if I intend to find a path, to draw up an itinerary and in this way travel through a country or a city (...) In the way that men produce nexuses and concatenations, stories make life itself bearable, and are an aid against terror. - Wim Wenders In recognizing the sensorial and mnemonic power of places in the city of Medellin, mental maps became a key methodological tool of my research. Mental maps provided a large, vivid and concrete body of information about the "lieux de memoire" of Medellin's urban dwellers, and about their perceptions and uses of their surrounding environment: the barrio and the city. In one use of mental maps, a recognized local landmark (a street intersection, a building) was identified and placed on an empty piece of cardboard. From this place-reference, the individuals developed a mental map that had as its base their memories of places and their places of memory. The referent was not the 150 city as a whole but a section or district of the city --the one participants shared as a common referent. The late 60s and 70s were the years of the Mafiosos —those from the barrio who went to the "USA," coronaron [made it big], and returned to barrio Antioquia. The mafiosos returned to transform their houses into shiny three-story places of imitation marble, green varnished rock stones, and aluminium framed doors and windows, they hung out in the barrio showing off their bambas [fancy jackets]. During a session with a group of women in their mid- to late 30s and early 40s, the naming and location of the Bar Andaluz, one of the main meeting spots for the mafiosos, brought back several memories. Bar Andaluz had been in the barrio since the 1940s and was located on a corner of the main road. The memory of this bar is shared by many generations. For Trinidad and the others, the years to remember were the late 60s and early 70s when the mafiosos took over the Bar and the Mambo, Bolero and Son rhythms were replaced with the fast inner-city sounds of Puerto Rican and New York salsa. Trinidad and the others provide a vivid dialogue that maps their memories of those times: 4.13. Trinidad: This is El Andaluz, we all used to come here. Hilda: Ay! And there were some hot men, the mafiosos\ Several of them: Ave Maria! Ay! Pilar: Tell us this story, it seems that there are a lot of stories around El Andaluz Martha: The Maafia!... (laughter, comments among the women) [... ] Trinidad: This was El Andaluz, with a door here, another there at the comer (various participants indicate how to draw the door) like this... they say it was the Gomez, the Carreros... [total commotion] Pilar: Please, a moment to be able to listen to the stories... What is the story of El Andaluz that you were going to tell? Trinidad: So here at the Andaluz they played cards, pool, dominoes, and here as well there was a taxi fleet, it was the Andaluz fleet, ay! [... ] (laughter) Pilar: What years are you talking about? 151 Trinidad: The 60's. The taxis weren't like those of today, they were huge, with 8 seats and they were sharp and with fins (you still see them around), on my block they used to park one... very fine cars those ones. And over here the chicas [girls] all up and down la 25 [25th street] (she draws the chicas) and she was the one who spent the most time on the street (pointing to a woman who laughs). They went to look at men.... to check the Mejias, the Gomez, anyway... Pilar: So who was there, were they from the barrio or did they come from outside? Trinidad: No, they lived here too! Hilda: No... they were all from the barrio but they were the Mafwsos, the first ones who had gone to the United States. So it was from there that they began to do business to go to the States, and things began to go well for them, they went and returned full of bambas [fancy jackets], beautiful cars and well, back then the barrio women were (laughs) very—good— looking!! So... but I never went out with aMafioso] I just looked .. (laughs) those guys stood around with these bunch of muchachas and did their business there. [GS-TC/BA/13-06-97] As the group constructed the mental map and each one of them identified a meaningful place, memories came forth one after the other in a ripple effect. Martha's childhood memory about the construction of one of the main roads and how as a child they played on the morritos [promontories] brought on a different kind of memory for Fabiola who remembered running with her mother after her father and his lover. The street as a place of motion, circulation, looking and encountering is the key landscape referent for these women. In a barrio like barrio Antioquia where the movement and speed of events is so rapid, there is much to be "seen." Walking about became a practice of opportunity for these women. And as they constructed their mental map of place memories, they also reconstructed the mood and histories of each of the places that have marked them with meaningful memories. In Barrio Antioquia, five different groups constructed mental maps and each time the results were very different. The exercise carried out with the group of fifteen women in their mid-30s and 40s resulted in a map of the barrio during the 1960s that included the bars where they socialized and the parks as they looked in those years. The same exercise 152 with one of the gangs, composed of young men between 17 and 24 years old, that has signed the peace agreement, resulted in a map of the sector they controlled and a map of the 1980s: the years of their childhood. The group of barrio's youth between 14 and 25 constructed a contemporary map, rich in detail and movement through all the sectors in the barrio. The map made by the leaders of the Junta de Action Comunal20 and the civic committee went as far back as the foundational years (mid-1910s) when poor peasants or intra-urban immigrants traded their material belongings for pieces of land in the barrio, or bought land through their earnings from collecting cowpats. Their memories were particularly anchored, however, in the 1950s when the decreto 517 declaring the barrio a red-light district was announced. The differences between the mental maps consisted of the time period they covered and the focus they developed (e.g on locating the places of recreation, identifying circulation routes); nevertheless, they all shared some common site and place referents. The flat and wide shape of the streets; the bars from both the past and the present; and the distinctive physical marks/installations of the barrio (the buildings, the pasajes [tenement houses], the square shape of the bus terminal) were the three referents common to all of the groups. Past landscape features like the ravines, the morros [small hill] and the mangas were remembered vividly and clearly and were placed in the maps with great detail and geographic precision. Differences in representations of places and 2 0 The Junta de Action Comunal is the organization that is in charge of barrio affairs and the representation of the community when dealing with government, other organizations, and politicians. It is elected by popular vote for a period of one or two years. 153 landscapes in marks were evident, but in general the groups tended to either include the differing representations in the map or discuss them to come to a compromise.21 The stories Barrio Antioquia's residents told were grounded in specific places like the park or the bars and were remembered in a visual form that placed memories in natural and urban landscapes, in local site and chronological referents, and in sensorial and biographical environments. Memories were bound to place and in recalling these places, the residents followed the steps of a mapmaker: grasping and locating the coordinates of an environment, landscape, space, time and history. Their map, however, did not belong to the past nor to the cartography of physical space but to the realm of memory, where past, present, future, imagination, bodies, emotions and desire mix. Conclusion This chapter explored the prolific relationships between people, places, memory and violence through an examination of the practices of place making in the city of Medellin. Some of the tools for place making and sensing places were present in city dwellers' practices of landmarking (the marking of territory through the identification of key points of reference), landscaping (meaningful scenarios that situate the individuals in their everyday living environment) and circulating (the movement of individuals through the space and the landscape). City dwellers' ways of sensing places were examined through their visual memories, response to the acoustic environment's power to bringing back memories and through the memories of intense lived experiences. The practices of 2 1 It was agreed upon collectively that the mental maps did not attempt to develop a representation of the barrio and the city. I always stressed that each participant was identifying his/her own places and representations and that the map was a means to visualize them. 154 soundscaping and dwelling illustrated the multiple relations that city dwellers establish with places and the processes by which specific locations or physical buildings acquire meaning. The practices of place naming and place mapping were described as providing city dwellers with mental images and mnemonic clues that guide their practices of walking and establishing social relationships, which at the same time constitute cultural resources for survival. The lived and expressive relations between individual and places, the understanding that the knowledge and meanings of places are acquired through the lived experience of having been there and the ways in which places constitute a referent of belonging was conceptualized in this chapter as a sense of place. In the city of Medellin, however, these associations between people, memories and places are troublesome. Memories drawing people together and instructing them about who they are cohabit in place with a sense of destruction and pain. Feelings and landscapes of fear and terror are imprinted in places and have radically transformed the relationships between people and places. It was argued that when the social fabric of daily life is seriously affected by the dynamics of violence, it is in remembering and forgetting that Medellin's city dwellers find common referents and an awareness of the things and beings they have lost to violence. Within communities that are divided by war, and for whom the opportunities to communicate and interact are threatened, this shared way of sensing places through memory is an expression and a metaphor for establishing a sense of continuity and identity. Through place, the city dwellers of Medellin share memories that weave together a sense of belonging to a "temporary" community that is constructed through remembering and forgetting, a community rooted in memory and the attachment to the 155 stories and emotions that places hold. These communities of memory are temporarily constructed when neighbours meet and share stories and may become attached to more lasting social bonds like the youth group or the family. To be rooted, in this context, crosses restricted spatial and social boundaries and escapes fixed referents of identity or community involving what Lissa Makki (1995) refers to as a "chronical" mobility and routine displacement of peoples that requires them to "invent homes and homelands" through memory. 156 Chapter 5 Oral Histories of Death and the Dead One sometimes thinks [that] after one dies the other doesn't think or sees or feels what one believes about the other ... life, brother, in life, and don't doubt it! Even though one has been dead for a long time, one is always going to be remembered, and one can evoke those feelings. Rogelio, Youth House Popular II. In the city of Medellin, specifically in those areas continuously assailed by deadly violence, the dead and death have an oral history. This living memory of the past based on direct accounts, personal and group experiences, eyewitnessing, hearsay and oral tradition1 is organized through a cartography of mnemonic places. Local explanations of people's death, the place that the dead occupy in the life of the living, and attitudes towa