Escalation of state violence against Guatemala City's University of San Carlos (USAC) in the late 1970s compelled students to rework the politics of death. In this essay, the commemorative texts and funeral photographs of three student leaders — Mario López Larrave, Oliverio Castañeda de León, and Robin Garcia — demonstrate that political funerals acted as moments of revolutionary transubstantiation. The transubstantive funerals permitted an individual's shift from embodied flesh to martyr and reflected the insurgent syncretism of revolutionary secularism and religious millennialism. Transubstantive political funerals marked a distinct ajuridical politic that nonetheless invoked the rights of the living and dead to occupy pedestrian public space. At the same time, this practice had broader consequences for urban Guatemalan landscapes, because political funerals required the public to do mourning work. When street-walking mourners wielded the coffins of their comrades, they revised spatial practice as funereal flaneurs, and even revolutionary metaphysicists.
Revolutionary Transubstantiation in “The Republic of Students”: Death Commemoration in Urban Guatemala from 1977 to the Present
Heather Vrana; Revolutionary Transubstantiation in “The Republic of Students”: Death Commemoration in Urban Guatemala from 1977 to the Present. Radical History Review 1 October 2012; 2012 (114): 66–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-1598015
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