Laure Guirguis – Representations of the Past

Power, Culture, and Resistance between the Arab world and the Southern Cone, 1920s–2020s

Laure Guirguis

There is a more than a century-long history of cultural entanglements between the Arab world and Latin America, more specifically the Southern Cone. Offering to trace these interactions, I study how artistic practices and cultural institutions have participated in various ways in transregional networks of power and resistance, shaping the very constitution of the regions involved. To that end, I combine socio-historical, political, and cultural approaches from a cross-regional perspective.

How have artistic networks taken shape between the Arab world and the Southern Cone? To what extent, and how, have they related to the key political issues that emerged in the home and host countries of Arab migrants and their descendants in Argentina and in Chile, from the birth of Arab nationalist parties in the early 20th century, to the 21st-century Arab revolutions, through the creation of the state of Israel? How have the states themselves mobilized art and culture in their foreign policy, and for what purposes? Whereas some artistic networks, institutions, and individuals supported, or more or less passively consented to the establishment of authoritarian regimes in both regions, others adopted radical critical stances against them, and towards an array of questions, from the United Nations partition plan of Palestine to the United States-led cultural war during the long Sixties. How? What narratives were told or reframed?