What We Remember
The construction of memory in military discourse
Mariana Achugar | Carnegie Mellon University
This interdisciplinary monograph explores the discursive manifestations of the conflict over how to remember and interpret the actions of the military during the last dictatorship in Uruguay (1973-1985). Through the exploration of the discursive ways in which this powerful group represents past events and participants, we can trace the ideological struggle over how to reconstruct a traumatic past. By looking at memory as a social and discursive practice, the analysis identifies particular semiotic practices and linguistic patterns deployed in the construction of memory. The discursive description of what is remembered, how it is remembered, and who remembers serves to explain how the institution’s construction of the past is transformed and maintained to respond to outside criticism and create an institutional identity as a lawful state apparatus. This book should interest discourse analysts, historians, sociologists and researchers in the field of transitional justice.
[Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture, 29] 2008. x, 246 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins Publishing Company
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements | pp. ix–x
Introduction | pp. 1–5
Chapter 1. The construction of memory | pp. 7–22
Chapter 2. Constructing memory through discursive practices | pp. 23–37
Chapter 3. The construction of accounts of the dictatorship period (1976 & 1978) | pp. 39–75
Chapter 4. Analysis of editorials of a military magazine, El Soldado (1986-1996) | pp. 77–101
Chapter 5. Individual memory: Analysis of the confession of a repressor | pp. 103–123
Chapter 6. Struggles for memory: Dialogue between social actors (2000-2001) | pp. 125–166
Chapter 7. What is our story: Reconstructing the institutional grand narrative (2007) | pp. 167–194
Chapter 8. Conclusions | pp. 195–207
Corpus of texts analyzed | pp. 223–224
Appendix | pp. 225–229
Appendix 2 | pp. 231–241
Author index | p. 243
Subject index | pp. 245–246
“Some memories fade away; other stick around, haunting future generations. What we Remember addresses the struggles over amnesty, responsibility and reconciliation in relation to Uruguayan military discourse. Achugar's readings provide an engaging account of these struggles, skillfully demonstrating in the process how CDA and SFL analysis inform one another. Writing as the daughter of exiled Uruguayan leftists, she provides an illuminating, and potentially exorcising exploration of a dictatorship whose legacy has far from gone away.”
Jim Martin, University of Sydney
“This book is thought-provoking for people interested in the study of memory recollection, and/or the study of discursive practices. Both issues are thoroughly covered - and connected - in the book. This is the key positive aspect of this book, where we get some insight into the process of memory construction, and its discursive connection with the context in which discursive practices are produced and the common knowledge shared by social actors involved in them. [...] The book's organisation is worth praising. The diachronic study that is presented in the analysis is not only useful in order to understand recent Uruguayan history - and its discursive representation - but also to get a grasp of discursive change throughout time . [...] This book is not only an interesting reading because of what it offers and the knowledge we get from it, but also because of the new lines of research it opens up. The connection between discourse and memory, the importance of the context in which they are produced, and the people to whom those recollections about the past are addressed offers the possibility of creating a taxonomy of types of memory which can be classified by taking the variables considered in the analysis in this book, i.e. genre, situational context and addressees.”
Laura Filardo Llamas, Department of English, Universidad de Valladolid, Spain, on Linguist List Vol. 20.4035 (2009)
“This book by Dr. Mariana Achugar is a unique contribution to historical and ideological discourse studies. First of all because military discourse is hardly ever analyzed in our field, despite the fact that the military not only fight and kill, but also talk, especially when they want to obfuscate or legitimate their abuses. Secondly, her work is important because of the study of the triple interface between discourse, social cognition (memory and forgetting) and politics of the nation state. Thirdly, Dr. Achugar is relevant for discourse studies more generally because of her systematic analysis of argumentation strategies, actor representation and other properties of text and talk. And finally, and perhaps most dramatically, this book offers a linguistic portrait of some of the main actors of the darkest episodes of recent Latin American history: the military dictatorships of the 20th century.”
Teun Van Dijk, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
“The discourse on the past is a discourse that is under continuous construction and, therefore, cannot be seen as a closed discourse. In countries with totalitarian pasts, a part of the rehabilitation claims raised by the victims have not yet been met. Therefore, it is important that in this book Mariane Achugar has contributed to the analysis of the manipulations of the past.”
Ángel Rodríguez Gallardo , University of Vigo, Spain, in Discourse Studies 12(2). Pages 273-275
“Achugar's project makes a fine contribution to the series and will engage all who are interested in the discursive dimensions of memory construction, the theory and application of systemic functional linguistic (SFL) and critical discourse analysis (CDA), military discourse, and the specific case of the Uruguayan dictatorship's human rights abuses. [...] Achugar provides an engaged yet dispassionate account of how the sociocultural memory of Uruguay's difficult past was discursively produced, contested, and transformed. Her work seeks not to render a partisan judgment about the military's actions but to expose the logic underlying those actions. In this way, her work will prove immensely valuable to scholars seeking to understand, and intervene in, the discursive aspects of social and political struggles.”
Patricia L. Dunmire, Kent State University, in Language in Society Vol. 38 (2009)
“This monograph stands as a testament to the important role of discourse analysis in the realm of history and in particular with respect to contested histories and the historical progression of memory. Achugar’s work is a noteworthy contribution to the field of critical discourse analysis in which linguistic analysis serves to make claims in the social realm. It is a disciplined study, chock-full of pertinent pieces of a nation’s history and its continual struggle to make sense of the voices of the past within the present.”
Natasha Azarian Ceccato, University of Nice, in Discourse and Communication, Volume 3(4), 2009
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Main BIC Subject
CFG: Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis
Main BISAC Subject
LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General