Remembering remains : the texture of memory in post-Proceso Argentina



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This thesis is a photographic essay that examines the work of memory in Argentina related to the dictatorship of 1976 and its aftermath. In it, I examine various sites of memory that can be broadly defined as archival, performative and pedagogic and attempt to relate these sites to the scene of contemporary memory. An estimated 30,000 people were disappeared during “El Proceso” from 1976-1983 and these absent visages continue to haunt the nation. Officials from the outgoing regime remained protected from prosecution for 20 years after the formation of the constitutional government. Over time and without access to juridical redress, Argentine human rights groups have resorted to assorted means to recuperate the memories of the disappeared and the excesses of the regime. Groups like Las Madres de Plaza Mayor, HIJOS, and Grupo Etcetera developed performative practices – from the sanguine march to the carnavalesque protest. Neighborhood associations attempted to mark and recuperate former clandestine detention centers as public sites. Student activists mark sites with elaborate murals narrating the cityscape’s connection to its political ghosts. Municipal and provincial organizations emerged to catalogue, film, record, archive and listen.
Lastly, with the election of center-left president Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and his commitment to this memory work, along with his support of the legal prosecution of former regime officials, there emerged more monumental projects such as the creation the Parque de la Memoria and the memory museum at the largest detention and torture center in Argentina during the dictatorship, ESMA. This study enters into these sites of memory and attempts to narrate their affect and grammar in relation to the politics of memory that Argentines continue to struggle with to this day.