Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

James M. Córdova

Second Advisor

Brianne Cohen

Third Advisor

Carole McGranahan


This thesis provides an interdisciplinary, synchronic approach to Colombia’s current “memory boom,” examining the memorials, artworks, and performances that are materializing on its nearly five decade-long period of national violence. Here I ask what Colombian collective memory on civil war looks like, how locals engage with it, and why. My argument is that Colombia’s strong Catholic tenor provides the principle framework upon which the desaparecidos (disappeared) are regarded and commemorated. I examine how Catholic traditions are redirected into the understanding of Colombia’s victims, specifying on its notion of space, animate materials, and enactment of ritualistic performances. This thesis critically engages with interdisciplinary theories of collective memory, religion, trauma, and memorialization, using memorials and artworks on the Holocaust and on other historic moments of violence as points of comparison. I address holes in the scholarship that do not properly address what the implications of religious memory mediation in Colombia are, and the impact it has on its visual memory landscape. My research demonstrates that together religious traditions, contemporary artworks, and memorial spaces in modern-day Colombia establish a means through which victims of violence are commemorated as saintly.