Intimate encounters with military officials on trial: understanding military subjectivities and the ethics of fieldwork in post transitional justice Argentina
Eva van Roekel
(Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
The paper on intimate encounters in post transitional Argentina has a twofold aim: to explore hazards of researching the feeling lives of alleged perpetrators and give insights in their local moral worlds that shape alternative interpretations of accountability and experiences of justice.
Paper long abstract:
Understanding situated experiences of retributive justice after state violence require ethnographic explorations in order to unlock different co-existing moralities regarding justice, also those of alleged perpetrators. Hence this panel paper has a twofold aim: to explore the methodological and ethical hazards of researching indicted military officials' subjectivities and, simultaneously give insight in their transformative local moral worlds that shape alternative interpretations of accountability and experiences of justice. Firstly, I dedicate a section in this paper to the issue about alternative methodologies and ethics of doing fieldwork in a high-stakes environment with people who are alleged for crimes against humanity. Methodologically this paper reflects on the intersubjective engagement between informant and fieldworker with special emphasis on the moral and emotional dimensions of these personal encounters associated with violence and justice. This discloses the ethical hazards of doing fieldwork with people who are considered criminal, or even evil, by local agents and a broader academic sphere. Secondly, without falling into apologetic analyses, this paper offers nuanced insights in the lived experiences of the trials by indicted or loyal military officials. Their experiences regarding the crimes committed during the last dictatorship are explored by means of two empirical feelings: remorse and shame. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork, this paper concentrates specifically on data gathered from in-depth interviews and participatory observations with officials at court, prison and their homes, and documentation on local military ethical codes and educational handbooks.
The massacre and its intimacy: violence among neighbors