Latent Memory: Human Rights and Jewish Identity in Chile by Maxine Lowy

Latent Memory: Human Rights and Jewish Identity in Chile by Maxine Lowy

In the first half of the twentieth century, Jewish immigrants and refugees sought to rebuild their lives in Chile. Despite their personal histories of marginalization in Europe, many of these people or their descendants did not take a stand against the 1973 military coup, nor the political persecution that followed. Chilean Jews’ collective failure to repudiate systematic human rights violations and their tacit support for the military dictatorship reflected a complicated moral calculus that weighed expediency over ethical considerations and ignored individual acts of moral courage.

Maxine Lowy draws upon hundreds of first-person testimonials and archival resources to explore Chilean Jewish identity in the wake of Pinochet’s coup, exposing the complex and sometimes contradictory development of collective traumatic memory and political sensibilities in an oppressive new context. Latent Memory points to processes of community gestures of moral reparation and signals the pathways to justice and healing associated with Shoah and the Jewish experience. Lowy asks how individuals and institutions may overcome fear, indifference, and convenience to take a stand even under intense political duress, posing questions applicable to any nation emerging from state repression.

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