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Reframing Mass Violence: Uruguayan Memories of Dictatorship, Mar. 6, 2014

Families’ Conversations about the Dictatorship:
Pedagogies of Private Transmission

Mariana Achugar, Professor of Hispanic Studies, Carnegie Mellon


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Q&A

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Why do family conversations matter in processes of intergenerational transmission of traumatic pasts? Family conversations serve as triggers to reconstructions of memory that link self and others connecting past, present and future. Besides passing on information about the past, conversations entail doing interpersonal work that produces identity effects. These conversations provide a context to create and re-create individual and group identities. Family narratives deal with the negotiation of how to emotionally frame the narratives about the past, and entail aligning with different evaluations of the past. The interactions that take place in the family constitute a social learning space where the meaning and value of the past is constructed in relation to present interests. Achugar will share some examples from a two-year ethnographic project in Uruguay where 20 youth and their families were interviewed. The analysis of the styles of interactions that occur in these families with different backgrounds will show how they make sense of the past and what narratives characterize their recollections. She will then attempt to explain why some conversations produce “more sharable” memories of the dictatorship.

Mariana Achugar is a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research projects have focused on the role of discourse in the construction of memory in military discourse, youth socialization and popular culture. Theoretically, she approaches these topics from a critical discourse analysis perspective that focuses on the role of discourse as social practice through which the past is reproduced and transformed, highlighting the dynamic nature of these processes. Methodologically, she uses ethnographic approaches that situate discourse in its socio-historical context and recognize participants’ agency. Her publications on this topic include: What we remember: the construction of memory in military discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co. (2008); “Re/constructing the past: How young people remember the Uruguayan dictatorship” (2013) Discourse&Society 24(3):263-286; and (Re) presentando el pasado reciente: la última dictadura uruguaya en los manuales de historia. Discurso y Sociedad 5(2):196-229.

Session 4 in the public, one-credit course Reframing Mass Violence: Human Rights and Social Memory in Latin America and Southern Europe.

Organized by the IAS Reframing Mass Violence Research Collaborative. Cosponsored by the Human Rights Program, and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. This talk occurred on March 6, 2014, at 3:00 in 1-109 Hanson Hall.

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