Ante la ley: cultura legal y estado en la literatura Argentina (1871-2004)
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This dissertation explores the relation between literature and legal culture in Argentina. It asks why Argentinean literature repeatedly engages with problems of justice and criminality, and what social meanings and social effects this produces. The recurrence of judicial scenes in Argentinean literature expresses a frustration for the way in which the state and society try to solve their conflicts, and reveals what demands and ideas of justice are conceivable in a society that, like Argentina’s, is prone to unlawfulness. My argument is that given Argentineans resistance to the law, literature configures an alternative legality that contests state definitions and juridical principles, and displaces the symbolic place of criminality within society, revealing the jurisgenetic potentials of literature, its ability to create legal meaning. In Chapter 1, I analyze literary contestations of state definitions of criminality and justice during the simultaneous development of juridical and literary discourses at the end of the nineteenth century, specifically in Esteban Echeverría’s El matadero (1871), José Hernández’s Martin Fierro (1872, 1879), and Eduardo Gutiérrez’s Juan Moreira (1879). Chapter 2 examines how Jorge Luis Borges questions the philosophical possibility of political and juridical representation and appeals to a Hispanic affectivity to argue for a personal, individual, and affect-driven justice that ignores the state. Finally, Chapter 3 shows the alternative legality produced by literature at work by surveying cases of litigation in the cultural sphere between 1959 and 2004. The study of the legal opinions written by the judges in the cases against Ricardo Piglia’s Plata quemada (1997) and against the exhibition entitled León Ferrari. Retrospectiva. Obras 1954-2004 demonstrates that the notions and mechanisms regulating artistic practices are capable of refracting juridical principles.