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6424 - Truth Commission and the building of a foundational narrative of the nation

The subject of my paper is the final report of the CONADEP (Comisión Nacional sobre la Desaparición de Personas), the Argentinean Truth Commission, published in 1984. The report, titled "nunca más" (never again) dealt with the fate of the disappeared persons during the last dictatorship (1976-1983). Using an expression of the Argentinian author Hugo Vezzetti, we can call the publishing of the “nunca más” a “rearranging event“ (acontecimiento reordenador) of the significations of the past. The report reflects a turning point in the way the Argentineans related to its history and its political culture. I will show, however, that these developments had already begun to take place. Shortly after the coup of 1976, a different set of written reports introduced the language of human rights into the political discourse of Argentina.

After an introduction to the nunca mas report, I will explore two related issues. First, I will discuss how key terms and concepts already in circulation at the End of the 1970s have developed and how these terms and concepts have impacted political discourse until the present. I will show how these concepts culminated in the publishing of the núnca mas report and attempt to put them in historical context. Second, I will raise the question whether the report can be understood as a foundational narrative for a new conception of an Argentinean nation, based on the imperative that the horror of the dictatorship should never be repeated. I will discuss the consequences of the introduction of such a foundational narrative and its influence in Argentina’s dealing with its past.

Palavras-chaves: Nation Building, dealing with the past, Truth Commissions

Autores: Hasgall, Alexander (University of Zurich, Switzerland / Schweiz)

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