Laura Gotkowitz F'11
Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars 2011
University of Iowa
Trials without End: Political Violence and Democracy in Bolivia after World War II
This study uses the unprecedented trial of a Bolivian military regime for acts of state violence to rethink Latin America’s post-World War II democratic opening. It charts a “democratic” struggle against state repression, one that was influenced by local uses of (distorted) knowledge about Nazism and that culminated in the 1947 trial of an allegedly Nazi-fascist military regime. The trial raises two questions of contemporary significance: How do democratic societies define and judge political violence? Will “the people” dispense violence and justice, or only the state? By linking a close study of the trial with a social history of violence, the project illuminates the porous borders between democracy and authoritarianism at a defining moment for Latin America, that preceding Cold War dictatorships to come.