This article explores human rights politics in the transition from dictatorship to democracy in Argentina. Its ethnographic focus is the phenomenon of families of victims associations, usually led by mothers, that first emerged to protest against mass disappearance under the military dictatorship. Democracy has also produced new families of victims associations protesting against different forms of state abuse and/or neglect. They represent one face of the widespread protest against a 'culture of impunity' experienced as ongoing insecurity and injustice. Private grief is made an emotional resource for collective action in the form of 'political mourning'. The media, street demonstrations, and litigation are used to try to make the state accountable. State management of this public suffering has sought to determine legitimate victimhood based on a paradigm of innocence. The political mourning of victims and survivors charts the social margins of citizenship in the reduced, not expanded, neo-liberal democratic state in Argentina.
An Anthropology of Democracy in Argentina
Michael Humphrey and Estela Valverde
Michael Humphrey and Andrew Davidson
Caroline Nordstrom and Antonious C. G. M. Robben, eds., Fieldwork Under Fire: Contemporary Studies of Violence and Survival (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1995), 300 pp. ISBN 0-520-08994-4.
Michael Humphrey, The Politics of Atrocity and Reconciliation: From Terror to Trauma (London: Routledge, 2002), 192 pp. ISBN 0-415-27413-2.
Michael Taussig, The Magic of the State (New York: Routledge, 1997), 232 pp. ISBN 0-415-91790-5.
Robert Jay Lifton, Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1999), 376 pp. ISBN 0-8050-6511-3.
Samir Khalaf, Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon: A History of the Internationalisation of Communal Conflict (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 368 pp. ISBN 0-231-12476-7.
Ibrahim Aoude, Andrew Davidson, Sergio Fiedler, Michael Humphrey, and Owen Sichone
Jonathan Friedman, Cultural Identity & Global Process. (London: Sage Publications, 1994), pp. 253.
Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 366.
Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), pp. 229.
Zymaut Bauman, Globalization: The Human Consequences. (Cambridge: Polity, 1998), pp. 136.
Anthony Giddens, Runaway World: How Globalisation is Reshaping Our Lives. (London: Profile Books, 2000), pp. 104.
Michael Humphrey, Mark T. Berger, Clive Kessler, and Souchou Yao
Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. xii+353. (Reviewer: Mark T. Berger).
Akhil Gupta, Postcolonial Developments: Agriculture in the Making of Modern India (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998), pp. xv + 410. (Reviewer: Mark T. Berger).
Fernando Coronil, The Magical State: Nature, Money and Modernity in Venezuela, (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1997), pp. xvii+447, photos, notes, bibliography, index. (Reviewer: Souchou Yao).
James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. (New Haven and London: Yale U.P., 1998), pp. xiv+445, notes, index, illustrations. (Reviewer: Clive Kessler).
Slavoj Zizek, Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? Five Interventions in the (Mis)use of a Notion. (Verso: London and New York, 2001), pp. 280. (Reviewer: Michael Humphrey).
Some Critical Perspectives
Bruce Kapferer, Marshall Sahlins, Keith Hart, Jonathan Friedman, Allen Feldman, Michael Humphrey, Ibrahim Aoude, Michael Rowlands, John Gledhill, and Leif Manger
The World Trade Center disaster is an event of such significance that it exhausts interpretation. This is not because of the enormity of the event itself. Numerous humanly caused destructed of just the last hundred years dwarf it in scale, and the attention now addressed to it may over the next year appear disproportionate. But events are never significant in the imagination of human beings independently of the way they are socially constructed into significance in the context of the social, political and cultural forces that somehow are articulated through a particular event, and thrown into relief by its occurrence. Undoubtedly, much of the significance that attaches to the World Trade Center catastrophe relates to the character of the conflict it defines, and the several paradoxes the event gathers up in its prism: of the strong against the weak, the powerful as victims, the cycle of revenge, the generalization of suffering, the vulnerability of technological potency, and so on.
Publications, Films and Conferences
Zuzanna Olszewska, Veronica Doubleday, Irene Kucera, Michael Humphrey, Mary Elaine Hegland, Soheila Shahshahani, Marcia Inhorn, Suad Joseph, Soraya Tremayne, and José-Alberto Navarro
Coburn, Noah (2011), Bazaar Politics: Power and Pottery in an Afghan Market Town (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press). 254 pp. ISBN 978-0-8047- 7672-1.
Heath, Jennifer and Zahedi, Ashraf (eds.) (2009), Land of the Unconquerable: The Lives of Contemporary Afghan Women (Berkeley: University of California Press). 393 pp. ISBN 978-0-520-26186-0.
Barfield, Thomas (2010), Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press). 389 pp. ISBN 978-0-691-14568-6.
Oeppen, Cery and Schlenkhoff, Angela (eds.) (2010), Beyond the ‘Wild Tribes’: Understanding Modern Afghanistan and Its Diaspora (London: Hurst). 233 pp. ISBN 978-1-84904-055-6.
Hyndman-Rizk, Nelia (2011), My Mother’s Table: At Home in the Maronite Diaspora, a Study of Emigration from Hadchit, North Lebanon to Australia and America (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing). 290 pp. ISBN (13) 978-0-691-14568-6.
Loeffler, Agnes (2007), Allopathy Goes Native: Traditional Versus Modern Medicine in Iran (New York: Taurus Academic Studies). 224 pp. ISBN 978-1- 85043-942-4.
Oskoui, Mehrdad (2007), Last Days of Winter, Iran, 52 minutes.
Sheykholeslami, Mahvash (2012), Dark Room, Iran, 40 minutes.
45th Annual Meeting and Conference of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), 1–4 December 2011, Washington, DC
‘Globalized Fatherhood’, 13–15 April 2012, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Ibrahim Aoude, Mohammed A. Bamyeh, Allen Chun, Chuang Ya-chung, Yiu-wai Chu, Andrew Davidson, Sergio Fiedler, Jonathan Friedman, Michael Humphrey, Epifanio San Juan Jr., Owen Sichone, Terence Turner, William H. Thornton, and Wang Horng-luen
Notes on contributors
Ibrahim G. Aoude, Sandra Bamford, Mark T. Berger, Doug Dalton, Allen Feldman, Jonathan Friedman, John Gledhill, Richard Handler, Keith Hart, Michael Humphrey, Dan Jorgensen, Bruce Kapferer, Clive Kessler, Leif Manger, David A. B. Murray, Joel Robbins, Michael Rowlands, Marshall Sahlins, Elizabeth Stassinos, Marilyn Strathern, Karen Sykes, and Souchou Yao
Notes on contributors
Ferid Agani, Kalman Applbaum, Rohan Bastin, Daniel Breslau, Joshua Breslau, Ralph Cintron, Richard Daly, Andrew Davidson, Elissa Dresden, Andreas Glaeser, Van Griffith, Georg Henriksen, Michael Humphrey, Craig R. Janes, Ingrid Jordt, Roland Kapferer, Thomas M. Malaby, Barry Morris, June Nash, Alcida Rita Ramos, Steven Robins, Janine R. Wedel, and Stevan Weine
Notes on Contributors