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Your take-home final exam deals with one of the testimonial accounts we have read in the course. Please write an essay of no more than four pages in length (double spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font, one-inch margins). The essay is due in hard copy at the beginning of the last class. Late papers should be submitted to the instructor via email as MS Word attachments (NOT through Canvas). Late penalties will apply as per the syllabus.

One of the goals of this course has been to consider history from the perspective of individuals whose lives, in different ways, were gravely affected by human rights violations and situations of political violence. Several of our readings and films—particularly our readings of Luz Arce and Pinochet’s Chile: Testimony in the Aftermath of State Violence (Chile) and The Surrendered (Peru)—have shown how individuals writing in the aftermath of state violence understand and process their actions or experiences. These individuals/ cases also reflect on (and invite us to reflect on) the nature of individual responsibility and accountability during and after intense periods of repression and violence.

The Assignment

Choose either Luz Arce’s testimony (as told through Michael Lazzara’s rendering of it) or José Carlos Agüero’s (NOT BOTH) and write an analytical essay that includes the following components:

Summarize the work briefly and in broad terms and explain who the individual narrator is (e.g. Luz Arce or José Carlos Agüero) (1-2 paragraph max). This is not a book report, so this basic information needs to be kept brief and provide just enough detail so that your paper makes sense.
First-person testimonies always have a purpose. What is the purpose of the testimony you have chosen? Or are there actually several purposes for writing the text? What are the narrator’s motivations for speaking out? What does he or she hope to accomplish?
Situate and contextualize the testimony in relation to the course material that we have covered this quarter. (This is where the real thinking happens. Here is your chance to apply concepts or ideas that we’ve discussed. Here is also where your own unique interpretation of this text—i.e. your thesis argument – will emerge). Here are some questions to get you started: How does an issue such as dictatorship or civil conflict appear more ambiguous when viewed on the personal level? What does the text reveal about how people make decisions during periods of dictatorship, conflict, or repression? How did the narrator understand his or her actions at the time, and after? What does the testimony reveal about individual responsibility? And accountability? And the possibility for justice? Do not feel that you have to cite everything we have read. We will, however, be looking for evidence that you have read carefully both the testimony you are analyzing as well as a limited and targeted selection of other course materials and that you have tried to make connections among that testimony you are analyzing and those materials. Cite from the readings judiciously and appropriately. We want to hear a nice balance between your voice and the voices of others—but mostly your voice. Make quotes “work” for you as a function of your argument.
Reflect on what lessons the text you have chosen offers for the study of human rights.
Reflect on your own reactions to the text (1 paragraph at the end). Did it produce feelings of empathy? In what ways did morally repugnant acts appear more ambiguous?
This writing assignment is not meant to be a summary of the testimony or an informal commentary written in “stream of consciousness style.” Rather, you must develop a clear and concise argument about how to interpret this testimony and what it adds to our understanding of historical events, processes and/or ideological struggles. You will do this by using select, convincing evidence from the testimony and from our assigned readings.

Basic Guidelines for Citations

You do not need to include a bibliography page unless you cite materials other than the books, articles, and films that are required for the course. If you cite any additional, outside sources, then a bibliography page is necessary. You may choose to use either MLA style or Chicago style, but I do want you to be consistent in your manner of citation.

Although a bibliography page is not required, I do require that you include parenthetical references to course materials. They should take the following form: (Agüero 34), (Obstinate Memory), (Lecture, September 4).