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The missing memory of transitional justice: How Argentina and Uruguay confronted past evils, 1983-2009.

Lessa, Francesca (2009) The missing memory of transitional justice: How Argentina and Uruguay confronted past evils, 1983-2009. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis investigates the relationship between memory and transitional justice (TJ) in Argentina and Uruguay from the 1980s to the present. The research focuses on two questions. First, how do TJ policies emerge and evolve over time. Second, what is the connection between TJ and the memory of past human rights violence. These important concerns have, thus far, largely been sidelined by the literature. It is proposed here that memory is both integral and central to TJ policies, not only in terms of specific memorialisation initiatives (museums, memorials) that are sometimes examined by the scholarship. Through the use of interviews, as well as primary and secondary sources, the following conclusions were reached. First, the origins and evolution of TJ can be explained with reference to various dynamics, actors and power balances at local, national and international spheres. In Argentina and Uruguay, TJ was cumulative: every initiative was built upon previous achievements, complementing them. TJ often unfolded through unpredictable and unconventional paths, bearing witness to triumphs and failures, set backs and sudden developments. Second, an interactive and dynamic interplay exists between memory and TJ. TJ initiatives are in fact influenced by ideas and representations of the past violence held by relevant social and political actors. Examining these narratives helps achieve a deeper understanding of how TJ policies were implemented and evolved. Additionally, TJ mechanisms, especially trials and truth commissions, often champion, whether explicitly or not, specific understandings about what happened during the contested years of violence. For years, Uruguay successfully minimised discussion on past crimes to the limited sphere of human rights activism. By contrast, the Argentine Executive never achieved such a hegemonic position on the landscape of memory and TJ. Rather, it was forced to endure a difficult co-existence with the military and human rights activists.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, Latin American Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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