As is true in many countries, the history of Uruguay depends on who's telling it. Who acted well, and who acted badly, during its periods of military rule is a very pertinent question in a country which is still, to some extent, in recovery from trauma. Still, a consensus has now stabilised that something positively good happened in 1984-85: free elections were held and a civilian government with genuine legitimacy came to power. There have been amnesties, and genuine conciliations. Again, depending on whom you ask. But democratic Uruguay has basically worked. It now ranks 21st on the Transparency International index of countries in order of good government, one place above France. Compare its neighbours, Argentina (78th) and Brazil (94th), and you'd have to call that a success story.

Uruguay has also become a country in which history can safely be explored, re-examined, and talked openly about. In Karunika Kardak's new book, Memory, Identity and the Historical Novel in Uruguay: Opening up the Archive 1985-2010, we see how a new wave of fiction began to tell Uruguay's story once again. Heroes from the liberation struggle of colonial Uruguay come once again to the fore, and yet even though these are nineteenth-century tales, they are also somehow about much more recent events.

Memory, Identity and the Historical Novel in Uruguay is due out in our Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures series in 2022.

full news feed • subscribe via RSS