Meet the Fellows: 2016 Newcombe Fellow Viviana Hong

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This is one of a series of posts featuring Fellows from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation network.

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation is the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for Ph. D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. The 2016 class of Fellows includes University of Chicago’s Viviana Hong, whose upbringing influenced her doctoral work in Romance languages and literature:

I grew up in Argentina during the transition years following the dictatorship. The democratic governments of the ‘80s and ‘90s repeatedly failed to address the crimes committed during the dictatorship and the country faced decades of impunity. The policy that was favored instead was to “forgive and forget” the past—silence and denial were considered the best ways for the country to move forward after years of political and social conflict. During the 15 years that I lived in Buenos Aires, the dictatorship was never discussed nor taught in my classes, and I grew up uninformed of the nation’s violent history. I only began learning about this period as a college student in the U.S. during a discussion of this topic in one of my literature classes. Slowly, I became aware of the significant gaps in my knowledge in regards to the realities of the past, and most importantly, the factors that had successfully kept me from learning about this period while growing up in Argentina. In a way, my research and dissertation are driven by a desire to fill in these gaps and to learn about current programs in Argentina that educate younger generations about the legacies of the dictatorship through artistic media. More than 30 years have passed since the return of democracy and a lot has changed since my childhood days. It is an exciting time to be studying these issues and to consider how the arts are contributing to the transmission of memory in Argentina today. My academic journey has allowed me to revisit my own past through the books and films I study in my dissertation. This process has been bittersweet, but also enlightening and rewarding.

Ms. Hong’s dissertation title is Child’s Play and Foul Play: The ‘Dirty War’ in Contemporary Argentine Narratives. For more information on the 2016 Newcombe Fellows and to see a list of their dissertation titles, click here.


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