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McGuirk-The Falklands-Malvinas Conflict in the Political Cartoon

McGuirk-The Falklands-Malvinas Conflict in the Political Cartoon

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Published by Roberto Weiss

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Published by: Roberto Weiss on Jun 11, 2012
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03/01/2013

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It Breaks Two to TangleRe-construction/Re-disruption of Social Realities
The
 
Falklands-Malvinas Conflict in the Political CartoonFrom
 Humor
to
The If… Chronicles
 Bernard McGuirkUniversity of Nottingham
So while in many respects this conflict stillstands out as the last war of a past imperial era,in others it can now be recognized as the first of the post cold-war era.
The Official History of the Falklands Campaign
 Sir Lawrence Freedman 2005
25 Years… 30 Years? An Unfinished Business…
In Argentina and in the United Kingdom, cultural historians and literary criticshave occasionally addressed and sought to account for the impact of the 1982conflict on the creative imaginative and artistic output of their respective cultures.Habitually, however, and with a few notable exceptions, they have done so inisolation or, at best, with cursory cross-referencing to ‘the other side’. My purposeis to look beyond national frontiers and to consider not just the so-called Falklands-Malvinas factor in politics but the conflict’s effect, its multiple effects, byanalysing one of the lasting modes of creative representation of this last of thetraditional wars, as the conflict has been dubbed, namely, the political cartoon.Although more than a quarter-century has passed since the war broke out,there continues to be a fascinated or perplexed return to its impact, consequencesand resonances. In recent years, witness the impact of Tristán Bauer’s multiplyprize-winning film of 2004,
Iluminados por el fuego
, arresting works of fiction,poetry and drama, painting, sculpture and cinema have drawn on the Falklands-Malvinas memory bank. Yet what is being remembered? Facts, dates, history? Ormyths, mists, mystery? No definitive answer is available, let alone sought. Strongimages remain, however, and continue to be projected, a reminder that it ishabitually representations of war and conflict that matter; that make a difference.Whether expressed in histories, documentaries, political satires, protest songs, or
 
 narrative fictions, poems and dramas, war has been a foundational literary act of societies. In exploring how the cartoon, too, has performed not only as the effect of social causes but also as the cause of social effects, this short sample study willaddress both the indelibly nineteen-eighties Thatcher and Galtieri factorsinseparably from the present, continuingly crucial, questions of how Argentinarepresents the conflict to itself, or how the United Kingdom looks at itself and itscultural war or wars.Amidst the 2007 twenty-fifth-anniversary plethora of political, drum-beating, commemorative, nostalgic or vituperative re-evocations of the 1982conflict in the South Atlantic, to revisit the imaginative representations of warfostered an understanding of other predicaments, other needs, and differentcultures. It must be stressed therefore that the use of the materials chosen foranalysis here is focussed on a dual objective of familiarizing readers from the onetradition with images and ideas often well known or taken for granted by the other.Thus, for example, a British social imaginary suffused for more than two decadeswith the penguins and politicians of Steve Bell’s
Guardian
cartoons might seekand even find its Argentine counterpart in the exterminated bravery of the censoredand eventually shut down satirical review
 Humor 
or the subversive bite of thenewspaper
Pagina/12
.
1
It is more difficult to conceive of relevant equivalence inthe dominant metaphors of respective societies concerned to identify the nation-state with a warship, a hospital, or the white headscarves of the Mothers of thePlaza de Mayo; with Trafalgared sea-ventures of a yestercentury or the Iron-Ladyhandbags of yesteryear. For when it comes to metaphors there can be nouniversals, no smooth transitions, only translations, transversals, re-representationsand risks.In bringing to the fore caricatural depictions of and in conflict, or inexamining contrastive perspectives on what has broadly been characterized as anotoriously mythologized affair,
2
this analysis will explore perspectives andintroduce angles developed by popular culture deriving from within theprotagonists’ national cultural imaginaries. I endeavour to supplement what hasusually been, primarily, either a ‘Falklands’ or a ‘Malvinas’ critical focus byadopting an international comparative approach to the topic. Not without risk,however. Inconceivable is the notion that any author writes from a non-skewedlocation; for danger lurks not merely in the brute partisan, it stalks the very
 
 language of self-interrogation, whether singular or plural.
  Les animots
 
 Animal
: I was tempted [...] to forge anotherword in the singular, at the same time close butradically foreign, a chimerical word thatsounded as though it contravened the laws of theFrench language,
l’animot 
[…]
 Ecce animot 
[…]We have to envisage the existence of ‘livingcreatures’ whose plurality cannot be assembledwithin the single figure of an animality that issimply opposed to humanity […]
 Ecce animot 
 […] assuming the title of an autobiographicalanimal, in the form of a risky, fabulous, orchimerical response to the question ‘But me,who am I?’ (Derrida 2002: 409; 416).‘No hay que buscarle tres pies al gato’ [It’s no use looking for a three-legged cat],especially when the four-legged
animot 
is out there still to be read, or staring onein the face. Yet if proverbs travel with some difficulty, for too many political orcultural commentators imaginative representations translate not at all. The self-blinding critic is the one who looks only for defining moments or emblematicworks of art within a sphere pre-designated as either ‘the Falklands’ or ‘theMalvinas’ War, without taking into account that the ten-and-a-half-week episode,which has for too long borne a restrictive and puzzling label, was but an event – atonce explicable and tragic – in a greater conflict or conflicts. In the UnitedKingdom, pundits have unconscionably overlooked, or been ignorant of, the neardecade-long ‘process’ of Dirty War, Malvinas folly, troubled post-conflict re-emergence of a still-traumatized Argentine sovereign state, nation and collectivepsyche and the will of citizens demanding recognition of both themselves and theirurgent readings of a painful recent history.The pages of 
 Humor 
, in the immediate post-conflict phase of mid-to-late1982, abound with released animo(t)sity. The demons of a repressed nationalpsyche, however, as will become clear, often bear an uncanny resemblance to those

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