Days of the Dead: Australian Encounters with Violence in Contemporary Mexico

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Mason, Robert
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Penaloza, Fernanda

Walsh, Sarah

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2019
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In late November 2015, two Australians were murdered while travelling in Mexico. Australia’s connections to violence in Latin America have previously been dominated by the physical presence of refugees from military dictatorships, as well as solidarity between anti-imperialist groups opposed to the United States’ policies in the continent. The killing of the Australian tourists suggested a newfound emotional proximity and connectedness to the violence experienced in parts of Mexico. Paradoxically, just weeks prior to the killing of the two men, cities around Australia had enthusiastically celebrated the Day of the Dead with street parties, food and music festivals. This chapter argues that contemporary Australian attitudes to violence in Mexico differ from previous connections with human rights abuses in Latin America. Without significant personal connections, encounters with violence in the contemporary period focus on the place and performance of the act. Media reports interact with a tourist gaze as sites are transformed by the transgressive nature of the violence. The chapter explores synergies between the encounters with death to discuss the transformative potential of violence to challenge abuse and generate affinity. It suggests the potential for these emotional connections to challenge how refugees’ experience of violence is silenced in Australia.

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Mapping South-South Connections: Australia and Latin America

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Sociology

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Mason, R, Days of the Dead: Australian Encounters with Violence in Contemporary Mexico, Mapping South-South Connections: Australia and Latin America, 2019, pp. 243-261

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