Anthropological reflections on violence and time in Argentina

Eva van Roekel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


In 2010 thousands of crimes against humanity that were committed during the military dictatorship (1976-1983) in Argentina were being prosecuted at several federal courts throughout the country. In July that year I was sitting with Laura Figueroa in a small office at the Ministry of Justice, Security and Human Rights in Buenos Aires. 1 Laura’s father disappeared in the late 1970s and as a psychoanalyst she had been working with many survivors and relatives of the disappeared of the military dictatorship. 2 Laura was describing how many victims remember their violent pasts during the court hearings. She defined these processes of remembering not as chronological, yet as completely logical, in which decisive personal moments established important antes y después (before and after) in the lives of the victims. She also criticised the chronological organisation of historical evidence, based on a Western principle of linear classification and a progressive temporality. Victims’ histories of the last dictatorship and its aftermath were rather a collective jumble of significant personal episodes that did not follow an established chronological thread of events. Although sometimes legally disqualified, for Laura these jumbles of shared memories were important evidence of the crimes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTime and Temporality in Transitional and Post-Conflict Societies
EditorsNatascha Mueller-Hirth , Sandra Rios Oyola
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781315208930
ISBN (Print)9781138631366
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Sociology


  • time
  • temporality
  • post-conflict
  • transitional justice
  • violence


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