The Tinker Field Research Travel Grant allowed me to visit memorial sites in Buenos Aires and Santiago over the summer. I was able to do ethnographic work on memorial ‘Patio 29’ in Santiago and ‘Club Atlético’ in Buenos Aires. Additionally, I was able to conduct interviews with key informants, and with the archeologist in charge of the memorial in the case of ‘Club Atlético’.The Tinker Foundation and CLAS Summer Field Research Grant allowed me to continue my research project and adjust the approaches and methods I developed during a previous research trip to Berlin, in order to test them in Santiago and Buenos Aires before beginning my dissertation in 2017. The results of this research lay the groundwork for a dissertation on practices of memory, comparing memorial cases in Berlin, Santiago, Buenos Aires, and California. During my summer research, I learned that ‘Patio 29’ and ‘Club Atlético’ are bound by the practice of excavating. Thus they are both relevant sites to trace how forensic anthropology and architectural archeology have shaped contemporary representations of violence. My research proposes to understand these excavation practices as ‘archaeologies of violence’. Grouped together under this broader concept, the role these three ways of accessing the buried past have played in post-dictatorial politics of memory, justice, and reparation, can be unfolded. I came back to Berkeley with new findings on how these memorials construct material evidence: bones and architectural rubble are not transparent objects to be discovered, as they cannot speak for themselves. Contrary to the scientific belief in the objectivity of material evidence, the results of this trip will allow me to demonstrate how the producers of material evidence –anthropologists, architects, and archeologists - assemble, mold, delimit, and edit the materials they hold in their hands. This is by no means a critique of their disciplinary integrity; on the contrary, it is an acknowledgment of how forensic anthropology, architectural archeology, and forensic architecture have adapted to the very peculiar task of digging into spaces of state terrorism.
August 27, 2016