Conversations about Fear

  • Susana Kaiser
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series

Abstract

It was a cold morning in the Buenos Aires winter of 1998. I was sitting in the video room of a public school with five fifteen-year-old boys. We were talking about the dictatorship that ended the year they were born, specifically about stories of those years that their families had told them. One of them interrupted me:

I have a story to tell. Once upon those times… I live in a building where, on the fourth floor, a guerrilla used to live. And the military came. My dad was, and still is, the buildings superintendent. So the military came and aimed their machine guns at my parents. I don’t know the questions they asked; they were looking for my sister. My parents were held at gunpoint, sitting against the wall, while they were being questioned about my sister. Maybe this was to scare [my parents]. My sister was at the kindergarten. She was four or five years old. And [the military] killed the [guerrilla] who lived there. He was killed in that building. (Miguel)

Keywords

Burning Assimilation Beach Argentina Defend 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    A good example is the description of the hunting and killing of Mario Santucho, leader of the ERP, at an apartment in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. See Maria Seoane, Todo o Nada (Buenos Aires: Planeta, 1991).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    For the short- and long-term effects of living under terror in Argentina, see Diana Kordon and Lucila Edelman, eds., Psychological Effects of Political Repression (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana/Planeta, 1988); See also, Sofía Salimovich, Elizabeth Lira, and Eugenia Weinstein, “Victims of Fear: The Social Psychology of Repression,” in Fear at the Edge: State Terror and Resistance in Latin America, ed. Juan Corradi, Patricia Weiss Fagen, and Manuel Antonio Garretón (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992), 72–89.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Manuel Antonio Garretón, “Fear in Military Regimes,” in Fear at the Edge: State Terror and Resistance in Latin America, ed. Juan Corradi, Patricia Weiss Fagen, and Manuel Antonio Garretón (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992), 13–25, p. 14.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Survivors have argued that this was a way of informing society. See Calveiro, Poder y Desaparición. See also María Seoane, Argentina: El siglo del progreso y la oscuridad (1900–2003) (Buenos Aires: Crítica, 2004), 139.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    The concept of “flashbulb” memories has been applied for the study of collective memories of political events; e.g., Kennedys assassination, Challengers explosion. (We may now include the events of September 11, 2001). See Martin Comway, Flashbulb Memories (Hove, UK: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1995).Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    There is widespread belief in this torture “technique.” The case of a medical doctor who performed an autopsy and found a rat inside the corpse of her daughter (who had been kidnapped, killed, and her corpse returned to the family by military authorities) is quoted in Afredo Martins Les Meres “folles”de la Place de Mai (Paris: Renaudot, 1989), 60.Google Scholar

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© Susana Kaiser 2005

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  • Susana Kaiser

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