Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Arkansas

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2010
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, New York University (NYU)
The Power of Memory: The Aftermath of Argentina's Dirty War

What is everyday life like for groups currently viewed responsible for Argentina’s 1976-1983 Dirty War? In the context of Argentina’s well-known post-state-violence nation-building projects, most Argentine and non-Argentine research has focused on people identified as victims, not on those held responsible for state violence. But victims require wrongdoers, and in identifying groups victimized by state violence, subject positions of perpetrators have also emerged. One group of perpetrators in Argentina known as the represor, which refers to the military, defines them as the nation’s psychological and physical torturers. Another related category of perpetrator, apropriador, meaning child-thief, redefines a specific civilian and military population who adopted children born to abducted women. My dissertation research examines the construction of these categories and the experience of being re-classified as a perpetrator in the context of Argentina’s contemporary transitional justice movement, and asks: 1) How, when, and for what audiences have the categories of represor and apropriador emerged? 2) How do individuals describe the experience and consequences of being re-classified as a perpetrator 3) For military personnel and adoptive parents, what is the meaning of postdictatorship Argentina? How is this meaning produced through narrative accounts and everyday practices, and how does it vary or accord with the current government’s nation-building project? This project will be conducted between September 2010-December 2011 in Buenos Aires and Tucumán, Argentina, cities where military personnel and apropriadores are being put on trial, and human rights groups and government organizations continue to create public memorials and presentations that identify who caused the Dirty War. I plan to use ethnographic observations of everyday life, archival research, and life histories to explore the social, political, and affective processes through which governments create categories of perpetrators, and people labeled by these categories experience and negotiate them.