Unbecoming Veteranship

Convicted Military Officers in Post-authoritarian Argentina

in Conflict and Society
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  • 1 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam eva.van.roekel@vu.ml
  • 2 Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero valentinasalvi@gmail.com
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Abstract

In post-authoritarian Argentina, veterans who participated in the brutal counterinsurgency of the last dictatorship (1976–1983) inhabit an extremely inconsistent citizenship, alternatively violating and respecting legal rights and entitlements. This article looks at how alternating transitional justice practices and the ever-changing moral discourses about warfare and accountability create highly unstable access to rights, resources, and entitlements for these veterans in Argentina. The recent shift toward retribution for crimes against humanity in Argentina has legally consolidated their moral downfall. From being untouchable and exemplary officers until the early 1980s, the now convicted military officers have been demoted twice by the state and the military institution. Based on long-term fieldwork with the convicted officers and their kin, this article traces the contingent relation between the moral and legal practices that underlie this double downfall that constitutes a fluctuating process of un/becoming veteranship for these veterans. Their veteranship, for that matter, depends on highly conflictive and transformative sociopolitical processes that speak to broader moral dispositions surrounding legal rights, entitlements, and worthiness for veterans.

Contributor Notes

EVA VAN ROEKEL has worked and lived for more than a decade in Latin America. She received her PhD in Cultural Anthropology at Utrecht University and is now Assistant Professor in Social and Cultural Anthropology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She has published several articles in anthropological journals and has made three documentaries. Her monograph Phenomenal Justice: Violence and Morality in Argentina about the trials for crimes against humanity will come out early 2020. She is a cofounder of Dokumento, a cultural platform for storytelling, and editor of the anthropological journal Etnofoor. Her main research interests include military culture, human rights, morality, and visual anthropology. Her current research focuses on the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis and UN peace missions. Email: eva.van.roekel@vu.nl

VALENTINA SALVI obtained her PhD in Social Sciences at the Universidad Estadual de Campinas and is Professor in Sociology at the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero University. She is a researcher at the National Council of Scientific Research; Director of Núcleo de Estudios sobre Memoria at the Social Research Centre/Economic and Social Develop Institute; and a member of the editorial board of Clepsidra: Revista Interdisciplinario de Estudios sobre Memoria Social. Her research deals with memory, responsibility, and the armed forces in post-dictatorship Argentina. She has published various articles and the monograph De vencedores a víctimas: Memorias militares sobre el pasado reciente en la Argentina (2012). Email: valentinasalvi@gmail.com

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