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Fragile Memory, Shifting Impunity

Commemoration and Contestation in Post-Dictatorship Argentina and Uruguay


Cara Levey

Fragile Memory, Shifting Impunity is an interdisciplinary study of commemorative sites related to human rights violations committed primarily during dictatorial rule in Argentina (1976–1983) and Uruguay (1973–1985). Taking as a departure point the ‘politics of memory’ – a term that acknowledges memory’s propensity for engagement beyond the cultural sphere – this study shifts the focus away from exclusively aesthetic and architectural readings of marches, memorials and monuments to instead analyse their emergence and transformation in post-dictatorship Argentina and Uruguay. This book incorporates the role of state and societal actors and conflicts underpinning commemorative processes into its analysis, reading the sites within shifting contexts of impunity to explore their relationship to memory, truth seeking and justice in the long aftermath of dictatorship.
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Chapter 3: Of Memorials and Victims: Liminal Sites of Homage in Buenos Aires and Montevideo


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Of Memorials and Victims: Liminal Sites of Homage in Buenos Aires and Montevideo

El monumento no se hace para decretar la muerte de nadie ni para congelar la lucha por la justicia, que es y será, siempre, la lucha por el castigo a los responsables del genocidio. Se hace para que todos sepan que nuestro pasado hiere nuestro presente.

[We don’t build monuments to pronounce anyone dead, nor to halt the struggle for justice, which is, and will always be, the struggle for the punishment of those responsible for the genocide. The monument is constructed so that everyone is aware that our past continues to hurt our present.] —Mabel Gutiérrez, quoting José Pablo Feinmann, at the 2000 laying of the foundation stone, Monumento a las Víctimas del Terrorismo de Estado, Buenos Aires.1

This chapter examines ‘new’ memorials created in homage those disappeared and murdered before and during dictatorial rule: the Monumento a las Víctimas del Terrorismo de Estado [Monument to the Victims of State Terrorism] located in the Parque de la Memoria [Memory Park]2 on the coastal fringes of Buenos Aires (hereafter ‘the Monument’) and the ← 101 | 102 → Memorial de los Detenidos Desaparecidos [Memorial to Disappeared Detainees] located in Vaz Ferreira, a peripheral park overlooking the bay of Montevideo (hereafter ‘the Memorial’). Sharing a number of similarities, the case studies that comprise this chapter can be considered ‘intentional’ memorials, ‘a human creation,...

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