Review of Two Recent Books on Argentina’s Last Dictatorship for the Auschwitz Foundation. In Testimony: Between History and Memory, No. 120 (April 2015): 191-193. Available online.
Although Argentina’s twentieth century was marked by repeated instances of political violence, the abuses of the authoritarian regime that prosecuted the country’s so-called “Dirty War” (1976-1983) assumed an unprecedented scale and ferocity. This exceptionality has stood at the heart of most analyses of the period published since the path-setting 1984 truth commission report, Nunca Más (Never Again), whose detailed descriptions of systematic kidnapping and extermination set the research agenda for decades to come. Without losing sight of the Dirty War regime’s spectacular criminality – or the value of the research that has made its function and impacts clear – scholars in recent years have begun to question the presumption of exceptionality undergirding much of the literature on the period. Two recent English-language books – Consent of the Damned: Ordinary Argentines in the Dirty War, by David M. K. Sheinin; and The Argentine Silent Majority: Middle Classes, Politics, Violence, and Memory in the Seventies, by Sebastián Carassai – have begun to open these lines of inquiry to an international audience.