Accepted paper:

'We are born in their struggle and they live in ours' (H.I.J.O.S.): trans-generational memory and political identity in post-genocide Argentina


Katja Seidel (Maynooth University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses how, with a representation of the past as genocide, H.I.J.O.S.’ trans-generational practices of justice intimately produce their collective belonging in Argentina’s contested space of memory.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses H.I.J.O.S.' (Children for Identity and Justice against Oblivion and Silence) political agency in connection with an understanding and historical narrative re-construction of the 1976-83 dictatorship as genocide. With their activism during the Escrache - H.I.J.O.S.' practice of social condemnation - and in the current trials for crimes against humanity, the post-terror generation demonstrates why the violent past counts as genocide. In this symbolic, discursive, and legal space of justice members of H.I.J.O.S. strive to recover their disappeared parents' political identity and relate their own belonging. In this personal but contested production of memory narratives in Argentina, agents from the second generation reclaim historical ownership of justice and resistance. Their practice of justice as a trans-generational project leaves little room for grey zones, making the critical anthropological encounter all the more challenging. Based on anthropological fieldwork with the post-dictatorial generation in both Argentina and Madrid the author argues that H.I.J.O.S.' persistence in striving for legal punishment of all state related perpetrators and acknowledgement of their parents' political subjectivity is an intimate process in which political subjectivities turn agents into a kin-like political group. Discussing the trans-generational 'Culture of Justice' the article hence reorients the study of violence away from collective trauma to analysing genocide's productive quality for (recovered) identity little discussed in anthropological literature so far.

panel P074
The massacre and its intimacy: violence among neighbors