Rebels, Martyrs, Heroes: Authoritarianism and Youth Culture in Argentina, 1966-1983 Open Access

Schaefer, Jennifer Lee (2015)

Permanent URL:


A series of military dictatorships and authoritarian civilian governments from 1966 to 1983 made a claim to sovereign power based on the exclusion of young people. As police and military forces occupied universities and limited political participation, young people attempted to fortify their generational identity and recuperate autonomy. The identities of rebel, martyr, and hero intertwined in varying expressions, and in each instance, young people used these categories to produce collective memory as a way of sustaining their generational identity. Commemorative acts often identified individuals who had been injured, killed or threatened in confrontations with the military or police, and reenacted previous demonstrations. The number of idealized rebels, martyrs, and heroes swelled during university occupations in Buenos Aires and provincial capitals in 1966 and in protests like the 1969 Cordobazo in Córdoba. Conflicts between right wing governments and left wing Peronist groups including the Montoneros and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias turned to retributive violence following the Trelew and Ezeiza Massacres in 1972 and 1973. Responding to growing conflicts, including the Marxist-Leninist group Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo's attack on the Monte Chingolo military installment in 1975, military leaders mobilized young people's real or alleged involvement in violence to legitimize repressive tactics. The military dictatorship that governed Argentina between 1976 and 1983 intensified political repression through the practice of forced disappearance and foreclosed the kinds of commemorative practices that young people used to claim political inclusion. Drawing on extensive archival research, interviews with historical participants, and audiovisual recordings, this dissertation argues that the Argentine military's power over life and death compelled young people to create modes of collective memory that venerated their peers' lives. Analyzing intersections between political life and mourning, and examining practices of reenactment and commemoration that blurred the lines between live and grieved bodies, the dissertation shows how and why young people put their bodies at risk to challenge authoritarian practices. The dissertation joins scholarly conversations that interrogate how a spectrum of disciplinary technologies and commemorative practices shape the construction of life, the state of exception, and the potentialities of community.

Table of Contents

Introduction Generational Identity and Collective Memory: Bare Life and Knotty Time, 1

Chapter I: Grieving Martyrs and Honoring Rebels: Student Resistance and Nationalist Youth Aspirations, 1966, 36

Chapter II: From Students and Workers to Militant Sacrifice: Temporal Drag, Urban Geographies, and Commemorative Protests, 1969-1970, 90

Chapter III: Being Present for the Heroes and Martyrs: Military Massacres and Revolutionary Vengeance, 1972-1973, 140

Chapter IV: Paramilitaries and Peronism: Generational Identity, Rebellion, and Retributive Commemoration, 1974-1975, 190

Chapter V: Subversion and Specters: Destructive Militants and Creative Youth, 1976-1977, 229

Epilogue: Righteous Reenactments and Uncanny Repetitions: Commemorative Practices and Temporal Leaks under Democracy, 270

Sources, 295

Works Cited, 297

About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified Preview image embargoed

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files