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Violence, Memory, Identity, Family: Argentina
Travel Dates: May 1-18
Instructors: Gregg Bocketti and Melissa Fortner
Number of Students Enrolled: 16
Location: Argentina

Students will examine documentary, multimedia, and oral history sources in order to develop an understanding of the historical antecedents, activity, and fall of the dictatorship. They will consider the construction of history, by visiting historical sites in Argentina (such as torture centers), and the uses of history, by forging contacts with those who seek to define memory of the dictatorship today (such as political and social actors). Students will also examine research, analyses, and oral history sources in order to develop an understanding of (1) the psychological, developmental, and relational legacies of the dictatorship, as well as (2) the response of the psychological community to the regime both during and after the Dirty War. First, psychologists have studied the activities of the 1976-1983 regime in terms of the psychological consequences for those individuals exposed to torture, the psychological consequences for those individuals who fear or discover that they were kidnapped and raised by regime-friendly families, and the psychological and relational consequences for families of the disappeared.

Students will be able to explore how widespread fear, isolation, uncertainty, silence, and suspicion shape individual identity and family relationships as they consider the experiences of affected families both during and after the regime. For example, they will consider the identity crisis faced by those who have grown to adolescence and adulthood before discovering their biological parents had been killed by the government and their adoptive parents had taken charge of them illegally.

The opportunity for close interaction with those involved in the terror of the regime and the long process of recovery will be invaluable to the goals of this course. Many of the individuals with whom students will meet were personally affected by the Dirty War, whether they were kidnapped by the regime, were illegally given in adoption to friends of the military, or lost family members to state terror. Members of such groups as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Children of the Disappeared will discuss with students their personal histories of loss, the legacies of violence, and the struggle for political justice and psychological and social recovery.