5 January 2011

Psychological approaches to memory research on political violence in Argentina

Apart from the studies that have been conducted since the mid 80’s (Kordon & Edelman, 1986, 2007; Kordon, Edelman, Lagos & Kersner, 1995, 2005) by El Equipo Argentino de Trabajo de Investigación Psicosocial (the Argentinean Team of Psychosocial Research Work) analyzing, in clinical settings, both the individual and social psychological effects (e.g. both individual and social trauma) of the police and military repression, the sciences of the mind have contributed little to the better understanding of the influence of political events in the development, consolidation, and transformation of memories within society.

In 1986 Kordon and Edelman published Efectos Psicológicos de la Represión Política (The Psychological Effects of the Political Repression), which was the first book on this topic in Argentina. Kordon and Edelman elaborated hypotheses that allowed them to meditate on the effects of the traumatic situations in both the identifying processes and the individual and collective memories. In this sense, Kordon and Edelman held that memories of the political repression were linked to individual and collective identity and to the possibility of a future. Thus, they pointed out the fact that the memories of the dictatorship were not a neutral playing field, but rather a battlefield in which collective identity was legitimated and modeled. They developed some clinical investigations that included interviews with the children of the missing people within this framework. As a result of these interviews and clinical investigations, they concluded that the disappearance of the parents produced specific effects in the constitution of the identity of the children. Among other effects, they found that the interference of the support, the concealment within the family environment of the disappearance of the parents, and the denial emerging from the social context produced different levels of affectation in those children. The cases of illegal appropriation of babies by the perpetrators aggravated these levels of affectation. Kordon and Edelman maintained that the creation of association by children of the desaparecidos may play a central role in coping processes and may thereby mitigate the negative effects provoked by the illegal appropriation of babies.


Kordon, D. & Edelman, L. (2007). Por-venires de la Memoria. Buenos Aires: Editorial Madres de Plaza de Mayo.

Kordon, D. & Edelman, L. (eds.) (1986). Efectos Psicológicos de la Represión Política. Buenos Aires: Sudamericana-Planeta.

Kordon, D., Edelman, L., Lagos, D. & Kersner, D. (2005). Efectos Psicológicos y Psicosociales de la Represión Política y la Impunidad. Buenos Aires: Editorial Madres de Plaza de Mayo.

Kordon, D., Edelman, L., Lagos, D. & Kersner, D. (1995). La Impunidad: Una Perspectiva Psicosocial y Clínica. Buenos Aires: Planeta.

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