"Yesterday, Men...Today, Nature": Remembering Anthropogenic and Natural Disasters in Colombia

Vallejo Pedraza, Diana Catalina, Sociology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Olick, Jeffrey, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia

In this paper I trace the commemoration of two traumatic events over a period of 25 years, from 1985 to 2010, the Armero Tragedy and the Siege of the Palace of Justice in Colombia. I compare the creation, maintenance, and transformation of the collective memory of anthropogenic and natural disasters. Through an analysis of different commemorative narratives I demonstrate the similarities and differences that prevail in forgetting and remembering within a national context, over time, in the case of natural versus anthropogenic disasters, and outline the conditions for each. Scrutinizing articles produced after the tragedies in two national newspapers and one weekly magazine I cast a detailed explanation of how narratives of suffering related with natural and anthropogenic disasters change over time and what are the differences between them. Although not representative, the Colombian case is significant since it facilitates a theoretical explanation of the ways in which societies give meaning to both types of suffering.

MA (Master of Arts)
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