Region/Concept: Latin America, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Amnesia, Reanimation, Discontent, Forgetting
Description: Brazilian police force investigates nineteenth-century anarchist Mikhail Bakunin as potential suspect in protests.

Historical amnesia can sometimes generate the equivalent of necromancy. Combining illiteracy with suspicion, a political regime hears the name of a long-buried dissident, mistakes the ghost’s identity, and thereby reanimates a past force as present threat. In this spectral ontology, the legend recirculates with new life; hence the marks of recent vandalism are said to come from the hands of a dead revolutionary. In name (which matters most), the stained walls are alleged to be the product of his defacement. Notoriety; temporal oversight; a wanted man. From here, a phantom machinery of power is set in motion, tracking the imagined movements of a being not of this century (or even the last): interrogations, extortions, espionage, covert operations in search of an impossible suspect. Wiretaps become cosmic switchboards; blacklists become a kind of seance…listening for what is not there, looking for what cannot circle back. A lapse of knowledge thereby forms an inadvertent principle of resurrection: for all intents and purposes, he is the instigator once more…the one responsible for rising discontent (subversive exhumation). The streets belong to him again, given a second chance to alter everything, to restore a bad reputation, precisely because they had forgotten him.

Jason Mohaghegh