Past ARN Events

Argentina Since 2001: Recovering the Past, Reclaiming the Future

Argentina Research Network Symposium as part of the Society of Latin American Studies 2014 50th Anniversary Conference

Location: Room 252, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX
Date: Thursday 03 April, 2014.


Daniel Ozarow (Middlesex University), Cara Levey (UCC), Christopher Wylde (Richmond – the American International University in London)

Symposium Abstract

Crisis is a term that is much used in the post-Lehman Brothers world. The subsequent responses and associateBook coverd recoveries (or lack of) have been the subject of a cascade of academic, government, media, and think-tank investigation ever since.

This panel will analyse crisis and its associated responses and subsequent recovery in the context of Argentina’s multiple implosion of 2001-02 whilst also assessing its legacies for the country’s social, cultural, economic and political realms during the last decade.

In understanding the nature of how crisis and its impacts should be investigated and interrogated, we seek papers that first, reject false dichotomies of ‘old’ and ‘new’; instead synthesising understanding to form an analysis that draws both elements of continuity and elements of change and that secondly, recognise that crisis manifests itself in a number of realms, and that heuristic devices employed to investigate them must subsequently also be drawn from across a range of disciplinary perspectives. We thus invite contributions from political economy, the social sciences as well as cultural studies.

Whilst the 2001-02 crisis in Argentina led to a series of responses that both rejected the neoliberal model yet also recovered elements of it, the panel will also reflect upon the current global crisis and so welcomes comparative work that in particular examines how these processes are being played out in Europe today. This panel is part of a long-term networking collaboration on this theme and builds upon previous conferences and events organised by the Argentina Research Network.

For full abstracts of papers see conference programme

Panel 1 papers (9.30am)

The Argentine crisis: continuity and changePanel 1

Authors: Cara Levey (UCC), Daniel Ozarow (Middlesex University), Christopher Wylde (Richmond the American International University in London)

This paper explores the context and legacy of crisis in Argentina, and assert that responses to crisis do not only involve the merging of old and new, but that they are also, concurrently, responses to both old and new problems – many of which were evident in the 1990s and before.

Post-neoliberalism in contemporary Argentina: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and the changing role of the Argentine state

Author: Christopher Wylde (Richmond the American International University in London)

This article will seek to analyse one of the key tensions present in postneoliberalism; a tension between a desire to see the return of the state in the development process versus the forces of international capital in the contemporary global political economy.

Panel 2 papers (11.30am)Panel 2

Leonel Luna’s La conquista del desierto: art, race and the 2001 Argentinian crisis

Author: Ignacio Aguilo (University of Manchester)

My presentation will examine Leonel Luna’s artwork La conquista del desierto (2004), which portrays piquetero groups and other demonstrators during the 2001 crisis. I will demonstrate how Luna’s work suggests an interpretation of the crisis that highlights the often side-lined mediation of race in Argentina.

Argentinian cultural policies after the 2001 economic and social crisis: between diversity and hegemony

Author: Mariano Martin Zamorano (University of Barcelona)

This paper analyzes cultural policies of Argentina from 2003, studding continuity and change in seeking to define its character and particularities. We will describe how the Peronist concept of people coexist in tension with a multicultural approach at internal and regional levels of national cultural policy.

Panel 3 papers (2.15pm)Panel 3

Economic policies in the shadow: a political economy of sweatshops and clothing consumption

Author: Matías Dewey (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies)

This paper attempts to show that La Salada market’s growth and expansion in the aftermath of the 2001 crisis is the outcome of an intended shadow policy aimed at giving response to the growing demand of clothes and jobs by low-income sectors.

Incarceration in Argentina: reflections on the legacies of 2001

Author: Victoria Pereyra (Warwick University)

The paper explores the use of incarceration in Argentina from 2003 to 2012 in the context of the social and economic recovery during this time. It critically analyses the legacies of the 2001 crisis and social policies responses in the context of current global security policies.


Adolfo Perez Esquivel on Argentina’s resistance

After dictatorship, war and debt: what Argentina’s resistance has achieved and where next


Monday 30th April 2012, 7pm, Room 2B ULU, Malet Street, WC1

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and anti-junta activist
Beverly Keene, Coordinator of Jubilee South

Brought to you by:
Jubilee Debt Campaign
Argentina Research Network
Institute for the Study of the Americas


Argentina is once again in the news, as President Kirchner raises European heckles by nationalising an oil and gas company, declaring her country’s sovereign right to use its resources in the public interest. From the fall of the Western-backed military junta in 1983 to the ousting of the highly indebted IMF-backed governments and Argentina’s default in 2001, the country’s activists have been on a long and difficult journey. How was this achieved and do President Kircher’s recent comments about the Falklands Islands/ Malvinas and her nationalisation represent a new era of radical government in Latin America, or an attempt to outwit civil society groups in the country.



Adolfo Pérez Esquivel is an activist who fought against Argentina’s brutal military junta in the late 1970s and early ’80s. He was detained without trial for 14 months and tortured. After the fall of the junta he remained active in support of the families of those who had been disappeared in the ‘dirty war’, of indigenous peoples, of environmentalism, and against the Free Trade Area of the Americas. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980.


Beverly Keene coordinates Jubilee South – a global network of groups which fights against unjust debt.

Crisis, Response and Recovery: A Decade on from the Argentinazo 2001-11

Commemorating the 2001 Economic and Social Crisis in Argentina

Thursday 8th December 2011
Court Room, Senate House, University of London


On Thursday 8th December 2011 ISA hosted a day of discussion about the political, economic, cultural and social legacies of the 2001 Argentine crisis entitled “Crisis, Response and Recovery: A Decade on from the Argentinazo 2001-11.” Convened by ISA alumni – Dr Cara Levey (University of Leeds) and Daniel Ozarow (Middlesex University Business School) along with Dr Paulo Drinot (Institute for the Study of the Americas), a host of distinguished academics and emerging scholars from Argentina, the UK and beyond, rigorously debated many of the key themes from the last ten years. This multi-disciplinary conference emerged as a joint initiative between the Argentine Research Students Network (ARSN) and the Crises of Capitalism in the Americas Research Network (COCARN) and was generously funded by a conference grant from the Society of Latin American Studies (SLAS), the University of London’s School of Advanced Study Knowledge Transfer Grant and the Association of Argentine Professionals in the UK (APARU).

Argentinazo Conference posterIn the spirit of the polarised nature of Argentine society, at times the topics discussed aroused passionate debate from panellists and the large and diverse audience of academics, students, journalists, policy-makers and regional experts. Some of the most intense discussions centred on whether the social uprisings that enveloped Argentina between 2001 and 2003 represented the 21st century’s first genuine attempt by the “multitude” to transform the established political, economic and social order through the popular assemblies and range of (initially) largely autonomist social movements that emerged at the time, or whether it amounted to a reactionary mobilisation inspired by little more than economic self-interest. The successes and failures of the post-crisis agro-export development model and social policies that have been pursued by the Kirchner government were also explored in depth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPanellists analysed whether the model has achieved income re-distribution or an increasing concentration of wealth; a strengthening or weakening of the country’s level of democracy and has helped to resolve or aggravate poverty. An additional debate centred on the question of whether the county’s impressive macroeconomic “recovery” is sustainable or whether growing inflation, imbalances in the economy and vulnerabilities in the soya complex mean that Argentina will remain exposed to cycles of economic boom followed by years of profound crisis, as it has done historically.

SvampaThe conference concluded with a keynote speech by one of Argentina’s most authoritative academics and prolific writers on post-crisis Argentina – Dr Maristella Svampa’s (CONICET and Universidad de La Plata). Her fascinating lecture: ‘From “¡que se vayan todos!” to the intensification of the National-Popular Model’ discussed how the ambiguities, the tension between the continuities and ruptures with the past and the contradictory discourse of the Kirchnerist political project have gradually coalesced around a national-popular design that is firmly rooted in Argentine political tradition. The convenors plan to publish a collection of edited papers from the conference in a special edition of a leading Area Studies journal or book series in the near future.

In light of the fact that Brazil has recently been asked to provide finance to the IMF to lend to European countries who are in the midst of financial meltdown, the Conference contributes to the emerging literature on the lessons that the West can learn from Latin America’s Debt Crisis in the 1980s and Argentina’s own economic crisis a decade ago.


ARN Panel: Control, Repression and Resistance in Contemporary Argentina

Society of Latin American Studies Conference, 10th April 2010. University of Bristol

Panel Abstract:

As a consequence of Argentina’s unique path of early, rapid and historically state-centred capitalist development since its Independence, a powerful domestic landowning elite has coexisted alongside both a potent industrial sector and a large and dynamic labour movement.  The ruling elites have traditionally contained these class tensions through a set of deeply entrenched corporatist institutions which moderate the relations between state, business and labour/social movements.  Having been consolidated upon under Peronism, this system of control endures today. Yet during the occasions where these relationships have broken down, the ruling-class has resorted to direct repression to maintain order, ever since the Semana Trágica in 1919 through to the periods of military dictatorship in the late 1970s and early 1980s and most recently in December 2001, when uprisings and protests were violently crushed.  Despite these repeated episodes of repression, Argentina’s civil society remains as vibrant as ever.  Whilst few movements have completely avoided clientelist capitulation or cooptation, the state and ruling elites have engaged in increasingly subtle means of maintaining control and social, economic and political hegemony.  Today they preserve their domination less by means of direct oppression and more via institutions and practices which function with the complicity of the dominated (Bourdieu 1972). With this in mind, this panel will feature presentations on a broad range of topics that explore how, in recent years, different social movements in Argentina have resisted domination and control whilst being subject to different forms of both direct and indirect repression.

Presenters and Abstracts:

Cara Levey

Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, University of Leeds

Paper Title: ‘¡A dónde vayan les iremos a buscar!’ The escrache as a tool for resistance in contemporary Argentina

Abstract: During and since the last military dictatorship, Argentina has witnessed an upsurge in the mobilisation of civil society, notably human rights, relatives’ and survivors’ organisations aiming to ensure that former repressors stand trial, accompanied by many projects related to both truth-seeking and commemoration. It is in this context in which I examine the struggle of H.I.J.O.S (Hijos por la Identidad y la Justicia contra el Olvido y el Silencio) in which the escrache has been employed as a tactic of resistance and a unique form of protest. Formed in the mid-1990s, mainly by children of the desaparecidos, the group contests the lack of justice to date by occupying urban space, usually nearby the home or workplace of an individual involved in human rights violations. The group will march to the location and sing, chant, sometimes perform street theatre, make speeches and then paint information about the accused on the ground outside. These acts are accompanied by visual aids such as posters, maps and flyers. This paper focuses on H.I.J.O.S’ employment of the escrache to critique not only the human rights violations committed during the last dictatorship, but also current human rights violations and abuses.  I will explore the significance of urban space vis-à-vis the dictatorship and post-dictatorship period, the aesthetics of the escrache, its engagement with the political and judicial spheres and its potential for resistance and change, assessing whether the escrache creates an alternative space for resistance, or whether it directly challenges the impunity that undoubtedly persists in Argentina today.

Ana Soledad Montero

Universidad de Buenos Aires- CONICET

Paper Title: ‘”Y al final un día volvimos:” Collective memory and the recent past in Argentina (2003- 2007)


Since the commencement of former Argentine President N. Kirchner’s administration in May 2003, the memory of the last military dictatorship (1976-1983) has acquired great importance in the public arena. In fact, the repeal of impunity laws, the reactivation of trials to the military and other agents involved in the violation of human rights, the transformation of clandestine detention centers into sites for memory/spaces for memory and the direct official confrontation with sectors linked to repression can be considered to be the main features of Kirchner´s administration. In addition, the former President has often claimed to be the heir of the political struggles and ideals of the young revolutionary activists of the 1970s, who were the main targets of the military repression. In this paper we will examine a corpus of presidential speeches delivered by President Kirchner in which he provides a discursive reconstruction and interpretation of Argentina’s recent past. We will also draw attention to the major tensions, achievements and challenges that Kirchner’s reading of the past brings about in terms of the construction of a collective memory in Argentina. This study will be approached from two different but complementary analytical perspectives: the “memory policies” (Jelin, 2003) established and developed during the Kirchner administration and the political and ideological stance assumed by Kirchner in his presidential speeches. Thus we shall consider the process of consolidation and stabilization of the democratic regime in Argentina concerning the resolution of the dictatorial past and the human rights issue.

Chandra Morrison

Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge

Refiguring Public Monuments: Argentina’s Monumento al Che and Monumento a la Mujer Originaria

Abstract: Despite his Argentine roots, the figure of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara is tangibly absent from the collective imaginary of the Argentine nation.  In attempt to fill this silence, Buenos Aires-based visual artist Andrés Zerneri initiated the Monumento al Che project, which culminated with the installation of a bronze statue of Ernesto Guevara in Rosario (his birth town) on 14 June 2008 in celebration of what would be the revolutionary icon’s 80th birthday.  This homage to Che was founded in an emphatically collective and participatory construction process, with the bronze of the statue being collected from donated keys, the final location of the monument determined by public voting, and elaborate ceremonies accompanying the statue’s transfer from Buenos Aires to Rosario.  Due to the success of this participatory public format enacted through the Monumento al Che, the collaborative team of Andrés Zerneri and historian Oswaldo Bayner embarked on a second intervention into the symbolic realm of national monuments – this time enabling the public construction of a Monumento a la Mujer Originaria to be inaugurated during Argentina’s bicentennial celebrations in 2010.  This paper will consider the symbolic functions of these two monuments in attempting to reshape Argentine perspectives towards its national identity and notions of collective heritage.  Moreover, attention will be given to the distinctly performative nature of the construction of the monuments and their relation to the public, and how such performance enacts both an anti-institutional and a defiantly participatory public (and popular) art.

Daniel Ozarow

Middlesex University Business School

Paper Title: Saucepans, Barter and Getting to Know the Neighbours: Spaces for and controls against resistance to pauperisation among the nuevos pobres in Argentina

Abstract: One of the defining consequences of the Washington Consensus reforms in Argentina has been the impoverishment of millions of its once powerful middle-class.  As the ‘losers’ of neoliberalism and structural changes in the economic system, the widespread loss of jobs, pensions, savings, purchasing power and security among many has meant that a ‘new poor’ social stratum has emerged.  Contrary to early predictions this has now become a permanent feature of both Argentina’s and Latin America’s economic landscape. This paper provides a unique insight into the social, economic and political resistance that newly impoverished Argentines have undertaken in order to confront their descent, whilst acting as both individual and collective agents.  Drawing upon both household survey data, qualitative interviews and the recent literature, the findings indicate that far from being motivated to take different actions merely by their own downward mobility and impoverishment, new poor households assess the national economic and political context before deciding how best to respond.  Secondly, participation in a particular type of action is strongly shaped by the diachronic and resource-sensitive opportunities and constraints that exist for them at particular times.  This allows the forms of resistance that were taken by those who were impoverished in the 1990s to be compared with that made by the more recent ‘wave’ of new poor that followed the social and economic crisis 2000-2003.  Finally, differences in response preferences between households can be attributed to the distinct combination of biographical characteristics that each household possess and how these otherwise inert features assume importance when interacting with the forces and mechanisms that open and close these spaces for action.

Chris Wylde

Department of Politics, University of Leeds

Paper Title: Beyond the Neoliberal State? Argentina under Néstor Kirchner 2003-2007

Abstract: This paper is an attempt to examine some of the themes to have emerged from the crisis of 2001/02 and the subsequent administration of Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007.The national Peronist social contract in Argentina has a long history rooted in syndicalism and Latin American populism. However, Menemismo in the 1990s served to fundamentally transform both the state and society in Argentina. Such transformations were firmly embedded within the principles of neoliberalism. However, El Argentinazo in December 2001, and Kirchnerismo post crisis have served to change the fundamental framework of the Argentine economy, and how that economy intersects with global capital. Identifying the sources of continuity and change within the Kirchnerismo model represents a starting point, as such identification represents an empirical basis to search for new meta-theories more appropriate to the political economy of Argentina 2003-2007. The paper concludes that whilst elements of historical forms of political economy exist in Nestor Kirchner’s regime – elements of populism, elements of neoliberalism – in its entirety one must look to other explanations not traditionally associated with Latin America, i.e. the Developmental State and the Developmental Regime.

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