As a historian of Latin America, my research focuses on cultural articulations of political change in modern Argentina. My in-progress book manuscript, “Critical Commemorations: Memorializing Rebels, Martyrs, and Heroes in Argentina, 1966-1983,” analyzes commemorative practices during periods of authoritarianism. In Argentina, a series of authoritarian military and civilian administrations took power between 1966 and 1983. Initially, responses to government repression included visible commemorative acts, for example naming university centers after students killed by the police or marching on the anniversaries of union workers’ deaths in confrontations with the military. These public acts shifted into clandestine resistance as state repression intensified. Among both left and right wing groups, clandestine commemorations ranged from publishing images of guerrillas killed by the military in prohibited magazines to political assassinations in acts described as “revolutionary homages.” The manuscript shows how these commemorations persisted and shifted, and why people risked their lives to participate in political mourning.
The manuscript and my broader work draw on scholarship and interventions from history as well as other fields including anthropology, literary studies, and performance studies. The manuscript combines close readings of official documents, newspapers, student and union newsletters, political flyers, images, interviews, and audiovisual recordings with theoretical perspectives on power, violence, and governance. By analyzing how commemorative practices produced politically powerful collective actions under the immediate threat of state repression, my manuscript nuances the extant scholarship on Latin American memory practices that has generally focused on the 1980s and 1990s post-dictatorship period.