Interview with: Cristiane Lira
Cristiane Lira is a former Tinker Foundation Graduate Research Award recipient. Most recently, Cris has been awarded the Willson Center for the Humanities and Arts Graduate Research Award for her dissertation titled “The Representation of Female Guerrillas: Challenging Discourses of Gender and Memory in Literature and Film in Brazil and Argentina Through the Dictatorships of the 1960’s and 1970’s.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the military coup in Brazil and while Cris notes it is not a celebration, “it is also important not to forget what has happened in Brazil.”
Cris traveled to Brazil in 2012 with the money awarded to her from the Tinker Foundation Graduate Research Award to do preliminary research on street theatre in São Paulo. After traveling to Brazil, she knew the topic was not right for her dissertation. A São Paulo native, Cris felt it was a hard topic due to the violence and the proximity to her home town.
Cris first became interested in the idea of female guerillas when she was assigned to read “Maldito Amor” by Puerto Rican author Rosario Ferré for a class. The novel tells the story of Capitancito Candelario and how a woman, named by him as Barbara, was able to manipulate him in order to make him change his political actions. She was a female guerrilla and she used her own body in order to seduce him. After reading the book, she was intrigued by how the character of the female guerrilla was portrayed, and decided to research more about it.
During preliminary research, Cris realized that the representation of female guerrilla, and also the male guerrilla, can often change based on who is telling the story. In her dissertation she analyzes the portrayal of female guerrilla in literature and film, and compares and contrasts these with testimonies of the period. “What interests me the most is the navigation from one representation to another, from terrorist to heroine and also how frequently they are portrayed in literature as interested in joining the guerrilla movement only because they are in love with a male guerrilla,” Cris said.
Cris will use the money awarded to her from the Willson Center for the Humanities and Arts Graduate Research Award to visit many sites of memory, torture and detention centers in Buenos Aires, such as ESMA (The Navy School) and el Olimpo and Museum of Memory in La Plata. She also plans to conduct interviews with ex-guerrilla members in both Brazil and Argentina. She will visit human rights organizations, such as Madres de La Plaza de Mayo and Abuelas, and conduct research at IDES Library (Instituto de Desarollo Economico y Social), host of the Nucleo de Estudios sobre la Memoria (Memory Studies Group). She will attend meetings at Nucleo de Estudios sobre la Memoria, and establish dialogue with this interdisciplinary group of scholars.
In Brazil, she plans on going to São Paulo to visit the Memorial da Resistência de São Paulo (Memorial of Resistance of São Paulo) to examine letters written by prisoners of Department of Social Policy Order and documents recently collected and organized by the National Truth Commission.
LACSI congratulates Cris on this amazing honor and wishes her all the best luck with her research!