Friday, September 5, 2014

Notes on “From Pariah State to Global Protagonist: Argentina and the Struggle for International Human Rights”.

Poster commemorating victims of the military dictatorship.  Photo by David Wilbanks, artwork by Jorge Martínez.
In this article Kathryn Sikkink considers how Argentina has influenced the transitions to Democracy, accountability measures and memory work in other countries.  She argues that Argentina is a global leader in human rights innovation and is key in the regional “justice cascade” that she characterizes as a rapid shift in norms and practices that increase accountability measures in other countries.   

Sikkink argues that the “maternal model” of activism pioneered by Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo has spread and has been emulated globally.  Argentina also was the first country to apply the word “disappeared” to name and denounce their particular experience of detainment.  The relationship between Argentine activists and international organizations such as the Inter American Commission on Human Rights was also novel and instrumental in promoting accountability.  The Nunca Más report by the CONADEP truth commission was the first published truth commission report (1984).  Sikkink shows that the number of truth commissions grew after 1983 when Argentina’s truth commission was inaugurated.  The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo were also groundbreaking in developing a National Genetic Bank that would trace disappeared children even after the grandparents’ death.  Additionally, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team has pioneered forensic documentation of human rights violations and has worked in nearly 30 countries throughout the world.  The now grown children of the disappeared have formed HIJOS to make visible the violations of the past through escraches and public protest events.  HIJOS groups have now developed in other countries such as Chile and Guatemala.  Legal innovations have also been instrumental in overturning attempts to pass amnesty laws and to limit trials.

To what extent has the Argentine model of accountability been adopted by other Latin American countries?    

WJT Mitchell — Notes on Picture Theory

In analyzing the “pictorial turn” in his book Picture Theory, Mitchell begins by raising important questions about how images reference t...