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Queering Acts of Mourning in the Aftermath of Argentina's Dictatorship

Queering Acts of Mourning in the Aftermath of Argentina's Dictatorship: The Performances of Blood

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Queering Acts of Mourning in the Aftermath of Argentina's Dictatorship
    Book Description:

    Co-winner of the Inaugural AHGBI Prize for Best Doctoral Dissertation The aftermath of Argentina's last dictatorship (1976-1983) has traditionally been associated with narratives of suffering, which recall the loss of the 30,000 civilians infamously known as the "disappeared". When democracy was recovered, the unspoken rule was that only those related by blood to the missing were entitled to ask for justice. This book both queries and queers this bloodline normativity. Drawing on queer theory and performance studies, it develops an alternative framework for understanding the affective transmission of trauma beyond traditional family settings. To do so, it introduces an archive of non-normative acts of mourning that runs across different generations. Through the analysis of a broad spectrum of performances - including interviews, memoirs, cooking sessions, films, jokes, theatrical productions and literature - the book shows how the experience of loss has not only produced a well-known imaginary of suffering but also new forms of collective pleasure. Cecilia Sosa received a PhD in Drama from Queen Mary, University of London. She is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at School of Arts & Digital Industries, University of East London.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-351-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Performing Arts

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    In what ways are we ‘touched’ by the past? Are those who have personally experienced the effects of violence the only ones entitled to contest them? Can the rehearsal of trauma bring us pleasure in the present? In the wake of Argentina’s last dictatorship (1976–83), the organisations created by the relatives of those missing adopted the form of what I have referred to as a ‘wounded family’.¹ This broken lineage of mothers, grandmothers, children, relatives and siblings of the disappeared has been the guardian of mourning. For more than thirty years, this bloodline assembly of victims has commanded the...

  6. 1 Paradoxes of Blood: From the Madres’ Queer Mourning to the Kirchnerist Era
    (pp. 13-26)

    From different fields and perspectives, both local and international scholars such us Diana Taylor, Elizabeth Jelin, Judith Filc and Ana Longoni, among others, have called attention to the familial inscription of the process of loss in Argentina’s post-dictatorship. By iterating a misleading overlap between truth and lineage, most of these studies ultimately stage a false equation between the universal abstraction of human rights and the particular position of those ‘directly affected’ by violence. As Jelin argues, ‘truthcame to be equated with testimony of those “directly affected” first and foremost in the voices of blood relatives of the “disappeared”’.¹ This...

  7. 2 Black Humour and the Children of the Disappeared
    (pp. 27-50)

    In December 2010 H.I.J.O.S., the organisation created by the children of the disappeared, celebrated its 15th anniversary.¹ A big party took place at a pub in San Telmo, a historic and bohemian area of Buenos Aires. ‘Our only revenge is to be happy’, ran the invitation flyer.² Since the group was established in 1995 many fundamental aspects have changed in Argentina. While in the early 1990s those responsible for the dictatorship’s crimes were free or had been ‘pardoned’, by 2010 huge trials were taking place. In 2005 the Supreme Court nullified the laws of impunity, and prosecutions were allowed once...

  8. 3 Undoing the Cult of the Victim: Los Rubios, M and La mujer sin cabeza
    (pp. 51-80)

    In the context of a restored democracy, a substantial number of film directors began to respond to Argentina’s violent past.¹ This new cinematic repertoire corresponded to an incipient democratic culture in need of forging a new pedagogical conscience. In this context, these typically testimonial pieces have mostly monumentalised the past while adhering to the cult of the victim. However, a new genre emerged in the 1990s when the descendants of those who went missing introduced their own narratives to re-engage with the past.² Still, the unwritten rule of the early post-dictatorship period stipulated that relatives and survivors must honour the...

  9. 4 The Cooking Mother: Hebe de Bonafini and the Conversion of the Former ESMA
    (pp. 81-104)

    It is 17 April 2009. The streets of the former Escuela Mecánica de la Armada (Navy School of Mechanics, ESMA) are quiet. What used to be the main clandestine detention centre in Argentina has become a seemingly peaceful place in one of the richest areas of Buenos Aires. Grass grows wild all around. Birds are singing. It is hard to believe that 5,500 people were arrested and tortured here. In 2004, when ESMA was ‘recovered’ for civil society, the former centre was declared a ‘space of memory’. I walk through the premises towards the former Liceo Naval Militar, the building...

  10. 5 The Attire of (Post-)Memory: Mi vida después
    (pp. 105-128)

    A cascade of clothes falls on to an empty stage. A woman in her early twenties emerges from the mountain of fabric and picks out a pair of jeans. She tries them on and walks to the front of the stage approaching the audience with her hands in her pockets:

    When I was seven, I used to get dressed up in my mum’s clothes and parade around the house like a tiny queen […] Twenty years later I find a pair of my mum’s Lee jeans from the seventies, and they fit me just right. I put on the jeans...

  11. 6 Kinship, Loss and Political Heritage: Los topos and Kirchner’s Death
    (pp. 129-150)

    In this final chapter, I put forward an analysis ofLos topos(‘The Moles’, 2008), a novella by the Argentine author Félix Bruzzone, both of whose parents were murdered during the dictatorship. Although the biography of the author seems to continue the tradition that stipulates that only those who were ‘directly affected’ by violence are entitled to the rights of remembering, I will make the case thatLos toposworks as a counter-performance to the idea of the ‘wounded family’ as the only victim of the military violence. More than this,Los toposprovides a queer, insurgent and ironic version...

  12. Conclusion: The Recovery of the House
    (pp. 151-166)

    This book opened with the story of a house. So too does it end. This story comes in different acts, which enfold one another.

    InArchive Fever: A Freudian Impression, Jacques Derrida argues that the first figure of an archive is topological. It is the violence of a power, a lineage, a place, a domicile: ‘It is thus, in thisdomiciliation, in this house arrest, that archives take place.’¹ In the aftermath of Argentina’s dictatorship, the relatives of the victims have commanded the house of mourning. To some extent, they have kept this house under arrest. They have been the...

  13. Afterword
    (pp. 167-174)

    While presenting my work at a conference in Cambridge at the beginning of 2012, I was accused of being an ‘infiltrator’.¹ ‘Who are you to challenge the experiences of those who suffered if there were no victims in your family?’ The accusation came from a daughter of disappeared parents who was in the audience. The young woman went on to say that my intervention reminded her of a short story written by Julio Cortázar in which an old lady spends her days attending vigils she has not been invited to.² ‘All the more in Argentina’s case,’ my accuser said, ‘when...

  14. Bibliography and Filmography
    (pp. 175-184)
  15. Index
    (pp. 185-190)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 191-191)