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Reframing Memory in the School Classroom: Remembering the Malvinas War

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 December 2015

Abstract

Narratives of memory have received considerable attention in Argentina but rarely have these been examined in relation to the 1982 Malvinas War. This article focuses on national memory narratives of the war manifest in educational resources and explores how and under what conditions local ways of remembering can transform and/or reproduce such narratives, through research within secondary schools in Río Gallegos, a city in the south of Argentina. It shows how the city's connections with the military and the war generated sensitivities that influenced how the Malvinas was engaged in the classroom. The localised framings deviated from predominant national memory narratives by underplaying the broader context of state terror and overlooking histories associated with the Malvinas before 1982.

Spanish abstract

Las narrativas sobre la memoria han recibido considerable atención en Argentina pero raramente se han examinado en relación a la Guerra de las Malvinas de 1982. Este artículo se centra en las narrativas sobre la memoria nacional de dicha guerra que se reflejan en recursos educativos y explora cómo y bajo qué condiciones formas locales de recordar pueden transformar y/o reproducir tales narrativas a través de una investigación en escuelas secundarias de Río Gallegos, una ciudad al sur de Argentina. El artículo muestra cómo las conexiones de la ciudad con los militares y la guerra generaron sensibilidades que influyeron en cómo el tema de las Malvinas se presentó en las clases. El encuadramiento local se separó de las narrativas predominantes de la memoria nacional al minimizar el contexto más amplio del estado de terror y hacer caso omiso de las historias asociadas con las Malvinas antes de 1982.

Portuguese abstract

Narrativas de memória têm recebido considerável atenção na Argentina, mas estas raramente têm sido examinadas em relação à Guerra das Malvinas de 1982. A partir de pesquisa em escolas secundárias em Río Gallegos, cidade do sul da Argentina, este artigo foca em narrativas nacionais de memória da guerra manifestas em recursos educacionais e explora como e sob quais condições modos locais de relembrar podem transformar e/ou reproduzir tais narrativas. Demonstra-se a forma como as conexões da cidade com os militares e com a guerra geraram sensibilidades que influenciaram a forma pela qual a questão das Malvinas foi tratada nas salas de aula. As abordagens locais divergiam das narrativas nacionais predominantes de memória ao reduzir o foco no contexto mais amplo do terror de Estado e omitir histórias associadas com as Malvinas antes de 1982.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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References

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42 The research presented in this article is from the first stage of a larger project which sought to understand the ways in which the Malvinas is taught in Argentine schools from the perspective of politicians, officials and teachers. The next part of the research will work alongside young people in order to understand how they perceive commemoration of the Malvinas War and the sovereignty question more generally.

43 Faden, ‘History Teachers Imagining’, p. 191.

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53 Bellino, ‘Whose Past’.

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59 Andrew Graham-Yooll, La colonia olvidada: tres siglos de habla inglesa en la Argentina (Buenos Aires: Emecé Editores, 2007); Michael Mulhall, The English in South America (Buenos Aires: Standard Office, 1878); Glyn Williams, The Welsh in Patagonia: the State and the Ethnic Community (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1991).

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62 Milagros Pierini and Pablo Gustavo Beecher, ‘Malvinas y Santa Cruz: una relación histórica quebrada por una guerra’, Malvinas en la universidad: concurso de ensayos (Buenos Aires: Ministerio de Educación de la Nación, 2012).

63 The president made reference to her memories of living in Río Gallegos during the 1982 war in a speech in Ushuaia in April 2015.

64 Lorenz, Las guerras por Malvinas.

65 Ibid.

66 Pensar Malvinas: una selección de fuentes documentales, testimoniales, ficcionales y fotográficas para trabajar en el aula (Buenos Aires: Ministerio de Educación de la Nación, 2009). For example, the Malvinas museum in Buenos Aires consciously avoids associating the Malvinas with the 1982 war exclusively and focuses on other historical events crucial to Argentina's sovereignty claim, as well as the islands' fauna and flora.

67 Interview with Alberto Sileoni, Minister of Education for the Nation, Buenos Aires, 25 March 2013.

68 Interview with an education official at Argentina's Ministry of Education, Equipo Educación y Memoría, 20 March 2013.

69 Although see Lorenz, ‘Se habla de Malvinas’.

70 Lorenz, Las guerras por Malvinas.

71 Interview with a public secondary school history teacher, Río Gallegos, 3 March 2013.

72 Jelin and Kaufman, ‘Layers of Memory’; Sobe, ‘Textbooks, Schools, Memory’.

73 Tabar, ‘Memory, Agency, Counter-Narrative’; Vom Hau, ‘Nationalism and War Commemoration’.

74 Legg, ‘Reviewing Geographies’.

75 Interview with an education official at the Provincial Office of Higher Education, Santa Cruz, Río Gallegos, 6 March 2013.

76 Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory; Legg, ‘Reviewing Geographies’.

77 Jelin and Kaufman, ‘Layers of Memory’.

78 Interview with a private secondary school history teacher, Río Gallegos, 15 March 2013.

79 See Beatriz Sarlo, Tiempo pasado: cultura de la memoria y giro subjetivo. Una discusión (Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI Editores, 2005); Friedrich, ‘The Mobilization of Historical Consciousness’.

80 Interview with a private secondary school history teacher, Río Gallegos, 15 March 2013.

81 Atkinson, ‘Kitsch Geographies’; Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory.

82 Interview with a public secondary school history teacher, Río Gallegos, 11 March 2013.

83 Bellino, ‘Whose Past’.

84 The film Iluminados por el fuego directed by Tristán Bauer (2005) is a graphic depiction of the experiences of conscripts in the islands and is now distributed by the Ministerio de Educación de la Nación as a DVD.

85 Also observed in the research of Graham, Brian and Whelan, Yvonne, ‘The Legacies of the Dead: Commemorating the Troubles in Northern Ireland’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 25 (2007), pp. 476–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For an example of extracts from diaries written by conscripts see, Leonardo Abrahan, Diario de Malvinas (Buenos Aires: Editorial Dunken, 2006).

86 See Lorenz, Las guerras por Malvinas.

87 Interview with Alberto Sileoni, Minister of Education for the Nation, Buenos Aires, 25 March 2013.

88 These observations are based on short visits to several schools in the city of Santa Fe during March to April 2015.

89 Lorenz, Las guerras por Malvinas.

90 Conway, Commemoration and Bloody Sunday; Faden, ‘History Teachers Imagining’.

91 Interview with a private secondary school history teacher, Río Gallegos, 7 March 2013.

92 Andrew Graham-Yooll, La colonia olvidada.

93 Pierini and Beecher, Cien años del Club Británico, p. 261.

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100 Interestingly, during a visit to a public school in Santa Fe in April 2015 an explicit link was made between these two national dates, as they were commemorated together during the same ceremony. Although anecdotal, it is suggestive of an approach which more closely resembles state narratives of memory in terms of linking the Malvinas War to the context of the dictatorship. For an additional reflection on how the dates might be remembered together see Lorenz, ‘Se habla de Malvinas’.

101 Natasha Niebieskikwiat, Lágrimas de hielo: torturas y violaciones a los derechos humanos en la guerra de Malvinas (Buenos Aires: Grupo Editorial Norma, 2012).

102 The gathering of veterans in many central plazas in cities throughout Argentina is testament to these grievances which centre on, for example, the issue of financial support through state pensions and (mental) health provision. In recent years debates about who should be eligible for the pension have sparked angry protests with some arguing the category ‘ex-combatant’ should include those who were on standby in the continent in 1982 but who did not see action in the south Atlantic.

103 Interview with a private secondary school history teacher, Río Gallegos, 7 March 2013.

104 Lorenz, Las guerras por Malvinas; Scorer, ‘From la guerra sucia’.

105 Vom Hau, ‘Nationalism and War Commemoration’.

106 Interview with an education official, Argentina's Ministry of Education, 20 March 2013.

107 Atkinson, ‘Kitsch Geographies’; Bellino, ‘Whose Past’.

108 Vom Hau, ‘Nationalism and War Commemoration’; Ram, ‘The Immemorial Iranian Nation?’; Escudé, ‘Argentine Territorial Nationalism’.

109 Interview with a private school history teacher, Río Gallegos, 15 March 2013.

110 Interview with a different private school history teacher, Río Gallegos, 7 March 2013.

111 Vom Hau, ‘Unpacking the School’; Benwell, Matthew C., ‘From the Banal to the Blatant: Expressions of Nationalism in Secondary Schools in Argentina and the Falkland Islands’, Geoforum, 52 (2014), pp. 5160CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

112 See Bosco, ‘Human Rights Politics’.

113 Francesca Lessa and Vincent Druliolle (eds.), The Memory of State Terrorism in the Southern Cone: Argentina, Chile and Uruguay (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); Ros, The Post-Dictatorship Generation.

114 Conway, Commemoration and Bloody Sunday; Ghoshal, ‘Transforming Collective Memory’.

115 Although see Bellino, ‘Whose Past’; Faden, ‘History Teachers Imagining’; Bhattacharya, ‘Teaching History in Schools’; Vom Hau, ‘Unpacking the School’.