Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures


Magdalena Perkowska

Committee Members

Oswaldo Zavala

Silvia Dapía

Subject Categories

Latin American Literature


relato policial, memoria, trauma, Argentina, Chile, dictadura y postdictadura


The present dissertation investigates crime fiction produced in Argentina and Chile between 1996 and 2015. It offers an analytical and critical reflection on five Argentinian works (four novels and one movie) and four Chilean novels. The Argentinian corpus includes the novels El secreto y las voces (2002) by Carlos Gamerro, A quien corresponda (2008) by Martín Caparrós, El espíritu de mis padres sigue subiendo en la lluvia (2011) by Patricio Pron, and Una misma noche (2012) by Leopoldo Brizuela, and the movie El secreto de sus ojos (2009), directed by Juan José Campanella. The Chilean novels are Estrella distante (1996) by Roberto Bolaño, Una casa vacía (1996) by Carlos Cerda, El corazón del silencio (2004) by Tatiana Lobo Wiehoff, and Racimo (2015) by Diego Zúñiga. In all these works, memory is used as a tool in the investigation of mysteries rooted in the traumas of dictatorship and concealed behind forgetting propagated by democratic transitions in these countries.

More specifically, the dissertation explores, on the one hand, how the conventions of the genre of crime fiction are decoded and recoded while intersecting with issues of memory and trauma; on the other hand, it establishes a dialogue between global theories of memory and trauma generated through Holocaust Studies and local discourses that center on recent State violence. The study proposes that the ongoing repercussions of this violence in the domain of nations’ and individuals’ (sub)consciences point to the permanence of the traumatic r/Real in the region. This r/Real, chronically “nurtured” by the insufficiency of judicial power, triggers different types of behavior among affected subjects: the obsessive work of memory that delves into the source of the trauma; the (deliberation on) vengeance as a possibility of a successful working through; and the silence or silencing as a conscious and/or subconscious phenomenon which frequently conceals a complicity in a crime. In this way, this dissertation inserts itself into the ongoing debate on the crime fiction genre as well as the debate on memory and trauma that belongs to the realm of cultural and literary studies on the global and local levels.