Power and Violence in La Mala Hora

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Arts and Humanities | Latin American Languages and Societies | Philosophy


Dennis Beach, Philosophy


The process of transforming a lived experience into a novel is notoriously difficult. The struggle becomes especially arduous if the experience is of a violent conflict. A whole genre of literature, called la novella de la violencia, arose in Colombia as an attempt to express the experience of just such a conflict. The genre treats the lived experience of la violencia, a notoriously brutal and complicated civil conflict lived by the people of Colombia. Part of the difficulty of conveying the experience of such a conflict is the complexity of the events of the time period. The second difficulty deals with understanding the human constitution of such a conflict. The relationship between power and violence, according to political philosopher Hanna Arendt, is routinely misunderstood. As a result, in works of philosophy, history and literature, the causes of violence and the role that violence plays in the conflict are rarely understood. It is not surprising, therefore, that most of the literature that comes out of la violenciasimplifies the nature of power and violence and fails to accurately represent the conflict. I will use the work of Hanna Arendt to demonstrate the way in which the novel La Mala Hora, in opposition to the rest of the literature of la violencia, properly captures the atmosphere of the conflict. In this novel, new concepts of power and violence emerge. I will use the work On Violence, by Hanna Arendt, to elucidate this new concept of violence and its implications.