Book Chapter

The Hour of the Furnaces' Sexualized History

Alternative title La hora de los hornos' Sexualised History


Olivera GE (2018) The Hour of the Furnaces' Sexualized History [La hora de los hornos' Sexualised History]. In: Campo J & Pérez-Blanco H (eds.) A Trail of Fire for Political Cinema: The Hour of the Furnaces Fifty Years Later. Bristol, UK: Intellect Books, pp. 95-118.

First paragraph: This chapter analyses a-chronic temporality and one-dimensional dislocation as aspects of crucial ‘discursive dominance’ in Argentine 1960s and 1970s social discourse, and how these modes of representation of history tended to manifest themselves in the depiction of gender and sexual diversities within the important political documentary production of that era.  My aim is to critically revisit how a historically conditioned social discourse sets limits to the political potential of a period’s documentary production: the critique will thus be posited at the level of social discourse rather than at that of the individual filmmakers or collectives involved. Taking La hora de los hornos' (Solanas and Getino, 1968) as a paradigmatic example within Third Cinema’s revolutionary discourse, my contribution analyses the documentary’s discursive construction of an a-chronic temporality that tended to oversimplify the social field into an already ‘sutured space’ by way of a two-camp paratactic discourse that left no room for the articulation of (critical) differences other than class or national/ethnic antagonisms, and in particular, the implicit disregard of the political potential of sexual/gender differences leading, in these latter aspects, to the reproduction of the dominant discourse, particularly with respect to sexual diversities and dissidence. This is inscribed, more generally, in an achronic representation of history that, by dichotomically opposing structure and agency, tends to confuse the synchronic moment of historical diagnosis with stasis. Within the boundaries of such a limited discursive representation of history and historical transformations, any subject hinting at sexual diversity or dissidence is disregarded or (un)recognised as abject, and as such, is unable to access the necessary threshold of intelligibility and recognisability to become an element, specifiable in its identity, outside the ‘system’ of neo-colonial oppression (defined in purely male heterosexist terms). In such a discursive formation that encompassed both right and left-wing voices, what was ultimately obstructed was the emergence of sexual diversities as political subjects, in that their difference as discursive elements was denied, and hence disabled for any possible articulation as moments of (a broader counter-hegemonic) discourse. From a combined semiotic and politico-discursive perspective, my reading will make use of Laclau and Mouffe’s analytic concepts of ‘articulation’, ‘moments’ and ‘elements’ of a discourse as well as that of ‘floating signifiers’, and these will be considered in their respective relations with those of ‘diachrony’, ‘synchrony’, and ‘achrony’ (particularly the latter two) as conceptualised by diverse theoretical approaches: the structuralist tradition and its critical developments through the contributions of Foucault and Agamben.

La hora de los hornos; Latin American Cinema; Sexuality; Gender; Latin American history; temporality; synchrony/diachrony/achrony

FundersThe Carnegie Trust
Publication date31/12/2018
PublisherIntellect Books
Publisher URL…/bo31274573.html
Place of publicationBristol, UK