(Article of periodic en Anglais - 2012)

Document title

Imposing Identity against Social Catastrophes. The Strategies of (Re)Generation of Meaning of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Argentina)

Authors(s) and Affiliation(s)

(1) Universidad del País Vasco, Spain


This article explores the processes of definition, construction and social management of collective identity in situations of social catastrophe such as that defined in the Southern Cone of Latin America following the grave human rights violations that occurred in the 1970s, especially those deriving from the forced disappearance of persons. This form of repression creates deep wounds in the social fabric affected and, besides this, produces what could be called a ‘catastrophe’, that is, a permanent confusion of the mechanisms of social construction of meaning and subjectivity within which one lives. In this case, the catastrophe affects several collective goods and, principally, the social bases of modern identity construction. In order to manage these catastrophes, the subjects that inhabit the social spaces formed around them – in this case those who live in the field of the detained–disappeared – develop very different strategies, with the most widespread in the Argentinean case being what I will call the ‘narrative of meaning’. This is a hard and conservative strategy that confronts the catastrophe of identity by employing identity constructions supported on old narratives of the family and biological heritage. This article is dedicated to an analysis of this socially successfully strategy and studies the form it adopts in the work of constructing identity of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo.

L’A. analyse les processus de définition, de construction et de gestion sociale de l’identité collective dans des situations de catastrophe sociale, en particulier la répression et la violation des droits de l’homme. L’exemple des familles et des enfants ayant vécu sous la dictature militaire argentine, des grands-mères de la Place de Mai et de ceux qui ont été enlevés ou disparus pose la question des différentes stratégies employées pour se construire ou se reconstruire


Article of periodic

published at : Bulletin of Latin American research / ISSN 1470-9856

Editor : Blackwell , Oxford - ROYAUME-UNI (1995)

Millesime : 2012, vol. 31, no3 [pp. 352-365]
Published in 2012



Digital Object Identifier

Go to electronic document thanks to its DOI : 10.1111/j.1470-9856.2011.00657.x

© 2012 The Author. Bulletin of Latin American Research © 2012 Society for Latin American StudiesTous droits réservés © Prodig - Bibliographie Géographique Internationale (BGI), 2012
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