This essay analyzes the conflict between the old naturalist archive and the emergent police archive in Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg’s La bolsa de huesos (1896). It argues that, by extrapolating on the figure of the elusive serial killer and an intellectual detective from the tradition of the detective novel, Holmberg stages a confrontation between forms of archivization that allows him to examine and critique the problematic collusion of science and politics in Argentina at the turn of the nineteenth century. Elaborating on Derrida’s notion of the archive (on its paradoxical drive to both preserve and destroy) this essay shows that the protagonists of La bolsa de huesos are simultaneously archivists and archival material. They are both consummate intellectuals capable of creating, consulting, and manipulating archives, and murderous criminals to be classified, studied, and archived. As such, they simultaneously enact the civilizing mission of the Argentine state and suffer the dehumanization imposed on the uncivilized components of the nation. These contradictions and complexities turn La bolsa de huesos into a commentary on technology and a nostalgic critique of the myopia that accompanied Argentine modernization.


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pp. 47-72
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