Accepted paper:

Fencing and liquidity: war in El Salvador and Honduras


Shannon Dowd (University of Michigan)

Paper short abstract:

This paper approaches the transition from the Cold War into globalization as a shift from static to fluid dynamics in territorial violence and its portrayal in literature, taking the case of the 1969 war between El Salvador and Honduras.

Paper long abstract:

Cultural criticism has suggested an increasing aesthetic of violence and destruction in Central American cultural production as armed left-wing struggles came to an end and the region began to undergo transformation by forces of global capital and drug trafficking. Conversely, territorial disputes among Latin American states frequently caused violent conflict during the Cold War, while increasing regional economic and political integration have diminished the frequency of such disputes in recent years. This paper approaches these political and economic transitions as a shift from static to fluid dynamics in territorial violence and its portrayal in literature. Taking as its case study the so-called Football War of 1969 between El Salvador and Honduras, the paper examines flows of migration and international influence at the time of the war. It then shifts to a longer historical view of the conflict and its aftermath, specifically focusing on images of fencing in spite of (or because of) increasing liquidity. Using newspaper articles, poems, and narrative, the paper considers the tension between, on the one hand, static and delimited and, on the other hand, fluid and mobile representations of the war. It then expands these countervailing dynamics to the ways in which globalization is treated in cultural criticism more generally, as either continuity or discontinuity. The paper suggests that the transition is not as smooth as deterritoritorializing and reterritorializing flows of capital over shorter or longer historical views; the transition sticks on territorialized violence, mixing the static and the dynamic, fencing and liquidity.

panel P19
Latin American cultural criticism today: new forms, new politics