10444 - Where Memory and History Meet: Researching Histories of Violence in "Archives of Terror"

Faculty and undergraduates at the College of William and Mary have spent the last three years in primary documents research related to State Terrorism in Latin America, working through partnerships with the National Security Archive in Washington, DC, and the Archive of Police Intelligence in La Plata, Argentina. Our work focuses on Cold War-era violence in the Southern Cone, especially cases involving Operation Condor. That group's sharing of intelligence across international borders means that research in multiple countries' databases is essential to reconstructing histories of repression. We have mined declassified documents from the US State Department and intelligence agencies, Paraguayan security forces, and the intelligence police from the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the request of prosecuting judges in Argentina, our research has contributed documents used in human rights trials there, and most recently we helped construct a chronology of the Argentine dictatorship as reflected in the US-based declassified record. This hemispheric research builds on the expertise of a literary and cultural studies scholar who has written extensively on memory initiatives in Argentina, and that of a historian who focuses on political repression in the region. Our paper explores the methodological challenges and benefits of doing this type of interdisciplinary, multi-site work. It also demonstrates how such archives can be places where "memory" and "history" meet. How does evidence from official archives add to or contradict memories of terror? With more such sources becoming available (also in Guatemala, for example), how can this kind of research contribute both to human rights prosecutions and to historical understanding? Co-authors: Silvia Tandeciarz (Hispanic Studies) and Betsy Konefal (History).

Keywords: human rights, Argentina, state violence

Author: Konefal, Betsy (College of William and Mary, Ud States of Am / USA)
Co-Author: Tandeciarz, Silvia (College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Ud States of Am / USA)


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