Accepted Papers:

The politics of absence: diverging perspectives on the identification of victims in the movement of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, Argentina  


Victoria Goddard (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Paper Short Abstract:

The paper focuses on the differences and divisions that emerged within the movement of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo regarding the identification and burial of victims of the dictatorship.

Paper long abstract:

In 1986, the movement of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in Argentina split into two groups, the Founders and the Association. Arguably, although the split responded to a number of differences regarding the central aims of the movement, it was the disagreement over identification and burial of the disappeared victims of the dictatorship that caused the deepest rifts in the movement.

The paper will explore how different responses to the possibility of a reliable identification of exhumed bodies elicited, or generated, different notions of morality, value, politics and relations with the state. Whereas one group of Mothers recognizes the 'inalienable' right of a mother to bury her child, another group argues for the moral value of collective responses, arguing for the 'socialization' of loss. The paper will suggest that these different perspectives reflect different notions of the public and private and also inform different political strategies and projects.

panel P37
Healing wounds, working together: archaeologists and social anthropologists in the study of traumatic events of the past