Daily Archives: April 11, 2020

My non-trip in the time of coronavirus #7: Lima

I’m cheating a bit here, because if we had really gone on our trip, we would have moved on to Arequipa by now on Good Friday.  But given that our planning didn’t get much further than Arequipa, I’ll mentally linger in Lima for a bit longer.

If I’d been there, I would have gone to LUM (Place of Memory, Tolerance and Social Inclusion- I must say that I don’t know how those words in Spanish fit into the acronym). On my travels I have found myself visiting a museum commemorating atrocities that have occurred in living memory : in Medellin with the Museo Case de la Memoria, The Museum of Human Rights and Memory in  Santiago,  ESMA in Buenos Aires, and the Rwanda Genocide Memorial in Kigali.  I often feel a bit ambivalent about visiting such museums: I’m aware that they spring from a political impetus and are often strongly contested and I fear that I’m being voyeuristic. But I’m also well aware of the importance of truth-telling, something that the Uluru Statement from the Heart implores us to do in relation to Australia’s indigenous history, and something that we seem unable to bring ourselves to do e.g. in the Australian War Memorial. So yes, if I were there, I would visit the museum in this spectacular building.

LUM  opened in 2014 to commemorate the dead and to address the country’s enduring polarisation over human rights abuses committed by both the Shining Path guerrillas and  the armed forces in the 1980s and 1990s. It was  funded principally by Germany and also the EU, Sweden and the UN development program. It came under fire almost immediately for being biassed towards Shining Path by the supporters of former president Alberto Fujimori (who is in jail now anyway). However, it was championed by Peruvian Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa .

Here’s a video about it with English subtitles.

It’s closed at the moment, as is everything else in Peru, because of the coronavirus.  But there’s a good virtual tour you can do, accessed through the link below. Click on the black arrows to go forward, and the blue dots have more information.  It’s all in Spanish, but that’s what Google Translate is for. Or, if you’re learning Spanish as I am, there’s hours of reading here.




I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 1-8 April 2020

Heather Cox Richardson. Heather Cox Richardson is an American political historian who has been posting daily blogposts about American politics. Like the rest of us, she is shut in at home, so she has decided to do two weekly videos. The first is, I suspect, a quick run through of her American History 101 and a tie-in with her recent book How the South Won the Civil War. The other weekly video is a Q&A about recent political events in America. Given that I never studied American history, I’m interested in her Thursday (US time) American history series.  She just sits there and it all spiels out, so she’s obviously done this before. Now that I am actually on a phone plan that gives me plenty of data, I just stream it while I’m walking because there’s nothing to see other than a woman sitting in front of bookshelves.  But she’s very fluent, and clear and engaging. You can get the videos through her Facebook page. Excellent listening.

Rear Vision (ABC) Of course, I’m far more interested in Latin American history now that I’m learning Spanish. Rear Vision has a really good podcast from May 2018 that gives a summary of Latin American history in the twentieth and twenty-first century, especially in view of what seemed to be in 2018 a return to right wing government. (It hasn’t completely turned out that way, Jair Bolsonaro notwithstanding). Latin America makes a right turn is an excellent, if somewhat outdated, summary.

Somewhat more recent is the program A destructive mine and a civil war: Bougainville’s path to an independence vote.  Well, after the referendum they were supposed to go to the polls to elect their regional council in May this year- I doubt that will happen.  And the program Protests in Lebanon, also from November 2019 is about the protests against the sectarian carve up of politics in the Lebanese constitution.  It’s strange to listen to these programs now that the world has been turned upside down by coronavirus, but of course the issues won’t go away.