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Critical condition: Alzheimer's and identity in Carla Subirana's 'Nedar' (2008)

Prout, Ryan ORCID: 2012. Critical condition: Alzheimer's and identity in Carla Subirana's 'Nedar' (2008). Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies 18 (2-3) , pp. 245-263. 10.1080/14701847.2012.795692

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This article reads Carla Subirana's documentary film Nedar against a background of panic in the mainstream media (in Spain as in the United States and the United Kingdom) about Alzheimer's disease and the apocalyptic demography presupposed by an aging population. It considers the history of Alzheimer's disease and diagnosis to propose that while technologies for the medical representation of the disease are becoming globalised, cultural responses to experiences of the disease are more distinctive. The article queries the use of illness as metaphor in Nedar and suggests that Alzheimer's, dementia, and amnesia are used to portray the irretrievable loss of information about personal and collective experience in Civil War and post-war Spain. The article details the film's juxtaposition of illness and archives within an exploration of the debate articulated by Susan Sontag and Nancy Scheper-Hughes over the appropriate use of disease metaphors: Alzheimer's complicates this debate because patients are sometimes unable to tell their own stories. The representation of amnesic disease is further complicated in a Catalan and Spanish context by a history of politically sanctioned forgetting and by the culturally specific value of memory. The article concludes by indicating that Subirana succeeds in using the connotative value of illness metaphors whilst also reaching an accommodation with her relatives' illnesses which differs from the practice of forgetting memory advocated by some of those who work with Alzheimer's patients in the English speaking world. It is also argued that unlike many other narratives of Alzheimer's disease, Nedar avoids recourse to the genre of horror, an eventuality which is in part facilitated by the film's origins in an investigative memorial project.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
Uncontrolled Keywords: Carla Subirana, Nedar, aging, Alzheimer's disease, historical memory, illness as metaphor
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1470-1847
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 10:03

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