The Struggle for the Past: How We Construct Social Memory


Thursday, October 5, 2017, 4:00pm to 6:00pm


CGIS South, S250, 1730 Cambridge Street

Speakers: Elizabeth Jelin, Senior Researcher, CONICET Argentina and Professor Doctoral Program in the Social Sciences IDES-UNGS ; Kathryn Sikkink, Professor of Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Kimberly Theidon, Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

Moderator: Scott Mainwaring, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor of Brazil Studies, Harvard Kennedy School

Noted sociologist and pioneer of studies about historical memory human rights and politics Elizabeth Jelin will present an overview of her just published book La lucha por el pasado: como construimos la memoria social (The Struggle for the Past: How We Construct Social Memory). Drawing on her extensive research and experience with memories of repression and violence in the 1970s and 1980s in Argentina and elsewhere in the Southern Cone Jelin explores how social memory is never singular finished and definitive. To the contrary words and silences are disputed at every point in the political and ideological debates of the era. Jelin examines both the political processes of the construction of memory in which human rights organizations were key protagonists and the history of the research field of memory studies. In a work that is both deeply personal and the summation of over three decades of professional work Jelin presents the results of an extensive reflection about memories as vital pieces in the construction of democracy. After Jelin’s presentation Kimberly Theidon anthropologist and author of Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru and Kathryn Sikkink political scientist and author of The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions are Changing World Politics will offer brief comments on the book followed by a discussion and a reception.

Presented in collaboration with the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Harvard Kennedy School