Mother of pearl, song and potatoes: Cultivating resilience in Claudia Llosa’s La teta asustada/Milk of Sorrow (2009) | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 14, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2050-4837
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4845



This article explores postmemory and the themes of transgenerational trauma and resilience in La teta asustada/The Milk of Sorrow by Claudia Llosa (2009), a film that suggests that the Peruvian internal conflict of the 1980s and the 1990s created a primal scene in collective memory, but departs from conventions of trauma narratives. Traumatized by the story of her mother’s rape, Fausta struggles to commemorate her dead mother’s experiences and bury her during a time meant for weddings. With help from her community, Fausta learns to cultivate resilience and develop personal agency. The use of song and the potato and pearl metaphors demonstrate how Fausta honours her mother’s memory and breaks from her mother’s narrative in order to formulate her own identity. Thus the film represents the cultural resilience of the postgeneration in renegotiating their identity after fleeing from mass violence.


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