The Politics of War Memory and Commemoration (2000), T.G Ashplant’s, Graham Dawson’s and Michael Roper

By Malahat Zhobin

T.G Ashplant’s, Graham Dawson’s and Michael Roper’s text, The Politics of War Memory and Commemoration (2000), focuses on analyzing how ” Argentine society incorporates (or excludes) the memories of its conflicted and painful recent past.” The text stresses that the memories that are trying to be recovered are not of war but are “memories of a period of extreme political violence and of state terrorism.” The text claims that in order to grasp Argentina’s social reality during the dictatorship, the individual and public memories that must be inquired. Argentina’s motto, Remember! So as not to repeat!, is brought to light in the text and is said to be the agent that fuelled the public to reclaim their memories of the past and to not allow repeats. The efforts of remembering and reclaiming the past resulted in the very famous book Nunca Mas to be created in pursuit of revealing the truth. Throughout the text, the importance of reclaiming the past and preserving memories is highlighted. Towards the end of the text some interviews with people who were involved with the dictatorship are quoted and used as examples of who memory of an event can vary and what constitutes as the “truth.” 

This text was very helpful in trying to comprehend the actuality and truth of the events that occurred during the Dirty War. There is indeed a discrepancy between memories of an event and the actuality of that event, and even though this is acknowledged in the text, it is also recognized by the text that the memories and untold testimonies of the dictatorship are essential to realizing the events that took place. I think that it will be very interesting to see how the efforts of preserving memories and testimonies of the recent past are made today in Argentina. I think that the voice and mood of the text was very determined and optimistic. Having determination and optimism in a situation such as the one that Argentina had to struggle through is imperative. Remember! So as not to repeat! This should be the motto that the Argentine people live by. While reading this text I found it very interesting that so any people try to understand and remember the patterns of history, so that in return they become aware of the repeats. I think that it is very important to know the past and to make efforts of changing the present and future but it is sometimes inevitable that history will follow its patterns. Currently in the United Sates, the NDAA has been signed which has taken many of the freedoms the U.S citizens away such as freedom of speech. This opens the door to the possibilities of such atrocities as the dictatorship of Argentina. Nevertheless, these are extreme and farfetched notions and ideas. My point here is that history has an inevitable force of repeating itself and indeed a way to stop it is to understand the past and preserve memories of the past in order to foresee the events that might take place soon.

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