front cover of Memory, Oblivion, and Jewish Culture in Latin America
Memory, Oblivion, and Jewish Culture in Latin America
Edited by Marjorie Agosín
University of Texas Press, 2005

Latin America has been a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution from 1492, when Sepharad Jews were expelled from Spain, until well into the twentieth century, when European Jews sought sanctuary there from the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust. Vibrant Jewish communities have deep roots in countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala, and Chile—though members of these communities have at times experienced the pain of being "the other," ostracized by Christian society and even tortured by military governments. While commonalities of religion and culture link these communities across time and national boundaries, the Jewish experience in Latin America is irreducible to a single perspective. Only a multitude of voices can express it.

This anthology gathers fifteen essays by historians, creative writers, artists, literary scholars, anthropologists, and social scientists who collectively tell the story of Jewish life in Latin America. Some of the pieces are personal tales of exile and survival; some explore Jewish humor and its role in amalgamating histories of past and present; and others look at serious episodes of political persecution and military dictatorship. As a whole, these challenging essays ask what Jewish identity is in Latin America and how it changes throughout history. They leave us to ponder the tantalizing question: Does being Jewish in the Americas speak to a transitory history or a more permanent one?


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Marc Auge
University of Minnesota Press, 2004

“Remembering or forgetting is doing gardener’s work, selecting, pruning. Memories are like plants: there are those that need to be quickly eliminated in order to help the others burgeon, transform, flower.”

For the health of the psyche and the culture, for the individual and the whole society, oblivion is as necessary as memory. One must know how to forget, Marc Augé suggests, not just to live fully in the present but also to comprehend the past.

Renowned as an anthropologist and an innovative social thinker, Augé’s meditation moves from how forgetting the present or recent past enables us to return to earlier pasts, to how forgetting propels us into the present, and finally to how forgetting becomes a necessary part of survival. Oblivion moves with authority and ease among a wide variety of sources—literature, common experience, psychoanalysis, philosophy, ethnography—to illustrate the interplay of memory and forgetting in the stories of life and death told across many cultures and many times. Memory and oblivion, he concludes, cannot be separated: “Memories are crafted by oblivion as the outlines of the shore are created by the sea.”


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Oblivion and Stone
A Selection of Bolivian Poetry and Fiction
Sandra Reyes
University of Arkansas Press, 1998

In a literature where recognition is hard earned, this anthology demonstrates what distinguishes contemporary Bolivian fiction and poetry from the rest of Latin American writing and shows clearly how Bolivian writers relate to that tradition.

Bolivia is a landlocked nation of mountains and high, arid plains, a place native writer Jesús Urzagasti calls the “Land of Silence.” This crucible of indigenous and European influences has contributed to the creation of a writing style that is always down-to-earth, often grittily realistic.

From this fundamental base, Bolivian writers express provincial customs and values, decry political oppression, and sound universal themes of isolation, even resignation; but, more often, they show the will to move forward as a people. This rich thematic mix encourages what critic Edgar Lora has called the “dynamic and vigorous social dis course” and the resulting “subversive, militant, and revolutionary” qualities of Bolivian literature.

Editor Sandra Reyes has gathered a panoramic sampling of twenty two poets and eighteen fiction writers. Focusing predominantly on living, practicing writers, this anthology defines the current literary voice of Bolivia and gives us a distillation of the contemporary Bolivian consciousness.


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Remixing Wong Kar-wai
Music, Bricolage, and the Aesthetics of Oblivion
Giorgio Biancorosso
Duke University Press, 2025

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Rescued from Oblivion
Historical Cultures in the Early United States
Alea Henle
University of Massachusetts Press, 2020
In 1791, a group of elite Bostonian men established the first historical society in the nation. Within sixty years, the number of local history organizations had increased exponentially, with states and territories from Maine to Louisiana and Georgia to Minnesota boasting collections of their own.

With in-depth research and an expansive scope, Rescued from Oblivion offers a vital account of the formation of historical culture and consciousness in the early United States, re-centering in the record groups long marginalized from the national memory. As Alea Henle demonstrates, these societies laid the groundwork for professional practices that are still embraced today: collection policies, distinctions between preservation of textual and nontextual artifacts, publication programs, historical rituals and commemorations, reconciliation of scholarly and popular approaches, and more. At the same time, officers of these early societies faced challenges to their historical authority from communities interested in preserving a broader range of materials and documenting more inclusive histories, including fellow members, popular historians, white women, and peoples of color.

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The Right to Oblivion
Privacy and the Good Life
Lowry Pressly
Harvard University Press

A visionary reexamination of the value of privacy in today’s hypermediated world—not just as a political right but as the key to a life worth living.

The parts of our lives that are not being surveilled and turned into data diminish each day. We are able to configure privacy settings on our devices and social media platforms, but we know our efforts pale in comparison to the scale of surveillance capitalism and algorithmic manipulation. In our hyperconnected era, many have begun to wonder whether it is still possible to live a private life, or whether it is no longer worth fighting for.

The Right to Oblivion argues incisively and persuasively that we still can and should strive for privacy, though for different reasons than we might think. Recent years have seen heated debate in the realm of law and technology about why privacy matters, often focusing on how personal data breaches amount to violations of individual freedom. Yet as Lowry Pressly shows, the very terms of this debate have undermined our understanding of privacy’s real value. In a novel philosophical account, Pressly insists that privacy isn’t simply a right to be protected but a tool for making life meaningful.

Privacy deepens our relationships with others as well as ourselves, reinforcing our capacities for agency, trust, play, self-discovery, and growth. Without privacy, the world would grow shallow, lonely, and inhospitable. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Hannah Arendt, Jorge Luis Borges, and a range of contemporary artists, Pressly shows why we all need a refuge from the world: not a place to hide, but a psychic space beyond the confines of a digital world in which the individual is treated as mere data.


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The Way of Oblivion
Heraclitus and Kafka
David Schur
Harvard University Press, 1998
If Heraclitus is one of our most ancient writers, Kafka seems especially modern. They share in a struggle between disclosure and obscurity that is perhaps as old as writing itself. In this lucid and engaging volume, David Schur takes us from philosophy to literature and back in a sustained examination of a fundamental philosophical metaphor: the way or path of method. Through close readings of texts by Heraclitus, Plato, Heidegger, Blanchot, and Kafka, he follows the development of a rhetorical commonplace into a distinctly Heraclitean paradox of method, concluding that Kafka's account of the way beyond mortal existence renews Heraclitus's emphasis on oblivion in the search for truth.

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