In this blog, Center visiting scholar Robson Bello discusses his focus on play during his month of research.
Robson Bello visited the USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research in March 2023 as a Visiting Scholar. He earned his Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD degrees in Social History at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. His dissertation is entitled "The Playground of the Past: Videogames and the Reification of Memory, Play, and the American West" ("O Playground do Passado: Videogame e a reificação da Memória, do Lúdico e do Oeste Americano"). In this dissertation research, he examined how the culture industry - through games and movies - commodifies cultural memory, play, and physical and digital spaces and creates an environment where the participation of the user becomes its primary ideology. In one of the cases in his research, he analyzes the pervasiveness of the American West (its images, figures, and ethos) throughout the world, including in Brazil, Dr. Bello demonstrates how the culture industry globalizes memory, diminishes historical accuracy, and transforms history and memory into images for consumption. As a visiting scholar at the USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research in March 2023, Dr. Bello explored Holocaust survivor testimonies in the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive to analyze the intersection between historical trauma, collective memory, and the many dimensions of play - from sports to children's play - and how survivors remember the "fun" amidst the horror they experienced.