On the dangers of empathy with the military in Argentina

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Empathy is an intersubjective process that transpires during ethnographic fieldwork. This article deals with the ethics of empathy during fieldwork with Argentinian military officers indicted for crimes against humanity. Failed attempts of empathy were not the consequences of the ethnographer's inner shortcomings to bridge existential differences between self and other(s) or proffered resistance on behalf of the military officers but essentially arose out a desire of otherness with the indicted military. In a social context where psychic content is a profoundly social matter, feelings and thoughts that stick through intense engagements. Otherness, then, is not an existential fact but arises from everyday warnings and social practices of avoidance. By introducing the notion of ‘sticky empathy’, I investigate in this article how the daily engagements with indicted military officers defy the fundamental idea that an ethnographer is different or separated from its object of study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-631
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Early online date25 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • military
  • empathy
  • ontology
  • Argentina
  • crimes against humanity
  • otherness
  • Military


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