The Politics of Nomenclature: An Analysis of Language in Government Speeches, Laws and Popular Discourse in Argentina from 1976-2007 Open Access

Diaz, Nicole (2009)

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This work examines the use of language in Argentina from the beginning of the military dictatorship in 1976 until the end of President Néstor Kirchner's term in 2007. I focus on the language used to refer to the desaparecidos, a group of nearly 30,000 individuals who were kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the military government. In the first chapter, I analyze the speeches of various military generals in order to understand the terminology that the dictatorship developed to refer to the desaparecidos between 1976 and 1983. Language played a decisive role in the destruction and creation of knowledge about this group of people, and government speeches provide the most direct access to the kind of information that the Argentine public received during this time period. In the second chapter, I explore the changing language after the 1983 transition from a military government to a democratically elected one. The speeches of President Raúl Alfonsín supply key information about post-dictatorship nomenclature, and in this second chapter I also investigate the use of language in the "Nunca Más" publication of the CONADEP commission and the laws of Obediencia Debida and Punto Final. The third chapter delves further into the system of language during the presidency of Carlos Menem, who governed Argentina from 1989-1999. Among the sources analyzed in this chapter are Menem's speeches and the Leyes de Indulto. I focus in the final chapter on the use of language by President Néstor Kirchner between 2003 and 2007 and analyze his speeches and also the Supreme Court issues and laws that emerged during this time. This work reinforces the importance of understanding language as a political tool that can shape how a society remembers (or forgets) its past.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Speeches of the 1976-1983 Military Government...7

Chapter 2: Rebuilding Democracy: The Government of Raúl Alfonsín...32

Chapter 3: Carlos Menem and the Presidential Prerogative...53

Chapter 4: Questioning the Past: Néstor Kirchner and the Supreme Court...71



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