Unsettled Debts: 1968 and the Problem of Historical Memory| Afterlives of Tlatelolco: Memory, Contested Space, and Collective Imagination
Ten days before the 1968 Summer Olympics began in Mexico City, a pivotal student rally took place in the Square of the Three Cultures at the city’s Tlatelolco Plaza. The Mexican army opened fire on the crowd, killing more than 300 protesters. The massacre remains a crucial flashpoint in the country’s long history of political repression. In recent decades, the state has taken part in commemorating the massacre, helping to convert Tlatelolco itself into a site and a symbol of civic memorialization. Drawing upon personal narratives, visual art, artifacts, film, and music, the essay intertwines official national commemorations with the collectivized memories of the massacre. It introduces newcomers to violence, silence, and memory in Latin America, engaging with different materializations of memory. By analyzing Tlatelolco as a space of historical reckoning and imagination, the essay evidences how the contested production of Tlatelolco simultaneously fosters historical memory and historical amnesia.