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Crime Scenes

Latin American Crime Fiction from the 1960s to the 2010s

Edited By Charlotte Lange and Ailsa Peate

Crime fiction has become a key element in Latin American literature. The rise in production of the genre can be explained by an urgency to explore issues of morality in societies which incorporate varying levels of censorship and corruption. Through a focus on the concept of the crime scene itself, this book identifies and interrogates some of the principal developments in contemporary Latin American crime fiction. In ten chapters which cover Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela, and generic diversity which spans police procedurals, narcoliteratura, postmodern detection, and historical portrayals of crimes, the authors investigate how the crime scene – which has always been central to the genre and its subgenres – critiques local and global issues, including social injustice, discrimination, neoliberalism, violence, identity, corruption, and memory.

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6 Map-Maker Most Foul: Rodolfo Walsh’s ‘Cartas’ and the Geography of Crime (David Conlon)

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DAVID CONLON

6 Map-Maker Most Foul: Rodolfo Walsh’s ‘Cartas’ and the Geography of Crime

ABSTRACT

The Argentine writer Rodolfo Walsh (1927–1977) is now best known for his journalistic investigations into state crime, which resulted in formally groundbreaking texts such as the non-fiction novel Operación Masacre. However, Walsh also made considerable innovations to the crime genre with his short stories. In this paper, I will focus on the 1967 story ‘Cartas’, with particular attention to how the text asks us to re-imagine the parameters of the crime scene. On the one hand, ‘Cartas’ documents the political upheaval caused by the incursion of global capital into the pampas during the 1930s; on the other, it invites the reader to consider the nineteenth-century extermination of indigenous peoples in a criminal register. It will be my contention that, by fusing these disparate narratives together, ‘Cartas’ can be understood as an effort to investigate nothing less than the Western production of space as constituting an elongated scene of crime, spanning from the conquest of the Americas to the ongoing re-coding of peripheral regions by ever more complex and intrusive iterations of global capital. With these associations in mind, I finally suggest that we approach the text as an early example of the ‘cognitive mapping’ prescribed by Fredric Jameson as a mode of investigating, apprehending and representing political totality.

Introduction

The literary legacy of Argentine author Rodolfo Walsh hinges to a...

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