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Telenovela de la memoria / Telenovela of memory

The working concept telenovelas de la memoria, which refers to those telenovelas and series that deal with contemporary historical topics of the recent past, originate from historical memory research. This concept implies arelationship of this type of telenovelas and series to their audience. The most important characteristic of telenovelas de la memoria is that most of the audience remember the events portrayed from their own experience  or have heard stories told by their parents or grandparents. The historical events shown in telenovelas de la memoria thus reach back three or perhaps even four generations. This characteristic distinguishes them from historical telenovelas, which also deal with historical events, but are based on events that took place far in the past, for which there are no longer any contemporary witnesses for the period depicted.

A telenovela de la memoria is usually a historical telenovela, which often uses names of real people in the form of melodrama or docudrama. Likewise, visual material from historical archives can be used and incorporated into the telenovela (known as image migration).  Filming often takes place either at actual locations of the events depicted, or these locations are fabricated, and incidents are re-enacted. Producers of these telenovelas and series themselves often claim that they want to contribute to historical memory. The events depicted are related to a collective trauma of society. The productions offer a representation of the past that can shape themselves into the collective memory through the classification of individual experiences and contribute to the historical consciousness of a society.

The aforementioned characteristics of the telenovela de la memoria help the viewers classify their own memories and identify with the narrative presented. This is done through a process of negotiation, which is not always free of conflict, as it creates unwanted memories or fuels internal family discussions that have not yet made its way into everyday life.

Examples for telenovela de la memoria: Anos Rebeldes (Brazil, 1992), Los 80 (Chile, 2008-2014), Pablo Escobar, el patrón del mal (Colombia, 2012)

Find more information about telenovelas de la memoria:

- Contreras Saiz, Mónika (2017): Narcotráfico y telenovelas en Colombia: entre narconovelas y “telenovelas de la memoria”. In: Hispanorama, 157, Pp. 26-31.

- Contreras Saiz, Mónika (2019): «Te reconstruyen la historia»: Teleseries sobre la dictadura militar chilena y en la conciencia histórica de sus telespectadores. In: Javier González Arellano, Nicolás Del Valle Orellana und Damián Gálvez González (Hg.): Golpes a la memoria. Escritos sobre la posdictadura chilena. Madrid: TEGE, Pp. 135–152.