AAA/CASCA Executive Program Committee
Executive Session - Oral Presentation Session
On 1 August 2017 Santiago Maldonado, a young artisan and tattoo artist, vanished in the midst of a crackdown on a Mapuche community in the south of Argentina. Soon after, his disappearance became a theme of national anguish and debate. While seemingly quite different from forced disappearances carried out during the last civil-military rule in Argentina (1976-1983) this case has been inscribed in the ongoing debate about the possibilities and implications of coming to terms with the past. In this paper I explore the different social, political and legal processes that followed in the wake of Maldonado’s disappearance as an occasion from which to consider the power of human rights discourse in the country as well as the rise and institutionalization of an alternative narrative advanced by the right-leaning political elite. Ultimately, I show that the assumptions underlying transitional justice mechanisms, specifically, the possibility of handling the past to such an extent that it can be “put behind” and “overcome” are flawed.