Marloes Mekenkamp | Violence and Affect in Female Poetic Activism in Contemporary Mexico

Marloes Mekenkamp | Violence and Affect in Female Poetic Activism in Contemporary Mexico | Radboud University |  Prof. Dr Maarten Steenmeijer and Dr Brigitte Adriaensen | September 1, 2018 – August 30, 2023 | m.mekenkamp[at]

Contemporary Mexican cultural production is strongly influenced by the extreme violence that has engulfed the country in recent years. A literary phenomenon that emerged within this context is the production of political poetry written by women that combines commemoration with mobilization. This form of poetic activism recounts violent episodes of Mexico’s recent past by appropriating testimonies by victims. In addition, these poems are remediated in the public sphere, during protest marches and performances that seek to denounce violent acts committed by the state and/or criminal groups and demand justice and peace.

This project studies how the work of three female poets generates and transmits affect in order to mediate memories of violence and engage an audience. Particular attention is paid to “bodily excess”, i.e. spectacles of crying, violence and sexual violence. It is argued that the representation of public mourning, mutilated bodies, and/or explicit scenes of rape in the poems produce intense bodily effects in their recipients that on their turn help to construct a collective memory while mobilizing a counter-action.