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    The Power of Absence: An Ethnography of Justice, Memories of Genocide, and Political Activism of a New Generation in Post-Transitional Argentina

    Seidel, Katja (2014) The Power of Absence: An Ethnography of Justice, Memories of Genocide, and Political Activism of a New Generation in Post-Transitional Argentina. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    For 30 years human rights groups have struggled for justice in Argentina. ‘We are born in their struggle and they live in ours’, thus goes the mantra of the second generation activists. In 1995, hijos, the children of the disappeared, murdered, unlawfully imprisoned and exiled victims of the 1976-83 civil-military dictatorship, decided to participate and created the association H.I.J.O.S. (Children for Identity and Justice, against Oblivion and Silence). Coming to the field in 2010, I arrived into a context radicalized through activism, campaigning, and a heightened level of legal activity in a temporality of post-transitional, pro-human rights. In this symbolic, discursive, and legal space of justice members of H.I.J.O.S. demonstrate why the violent past counts as genocide and promise not to forgive, not to forget, nor to reconcile. With their activism during the Escrache – H.I.J.O.S.’ practice of social condemnation and street justice – and in the current trials for crimes against humanity, the second generation strives to recover their disappeared parents’ political identity and create their own belonging from absence. This thesis presents a detailed ethnographic reading of the dynamics of justice in posttransitional Argentina. Pursuant to complex and sometimes conflicting research on the nature of these concepts, this thesis focuses thus on the meaning and impact of H.I.J.O.S.’ struggle over the past 18 years. The theoretical cornerstone of the work is an interrogation of the way in which post-memories are constructed, lived, and negotiated by members of the second generation thereby a demonstration of the productive quality of genocide and absence that bears new ontologies and political subjectivities. In holding an ethnographic mirror up to these experiences and hijos’ political agency, this thesis goes beyond prevailing studies of transitional justice and genocide and explores the productivity and creative power of violence unleashed by activated post memories. With the concept of ‘absence’ as a motor for justice this thesis shows how hijos use their post memories to subvert a traumatic heritage and regain ownership of justice.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Power of Absence: Ethnography of Justice; Genocide; Political Activism; New Generation; Post-Transitional Argentina;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Anthropology
    Item ID: 5612
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2014 15:38
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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