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Disappearances in the Post-Transition Era in Latin America$
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Karina Ansolabehere, Barbara A. Frey, and Leigh A. Payne

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197267226

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197267226.001.0001

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Conceptualising Post-Transition Disappearances

Conceptualising Post-Transition Disappearances

(p.17) 1 Conceptualising Post-Transition Disappearances
Disappearances in the Post-Transition Era in Latin America

Leigh A. Payne

Karina Ansolabehere

British Academy

This chapter establishes a holistic approach to understanding disappearances in post-transition countries. It considers the historical repertoires of disappearance that emerge during periods of authoritarian rule and armed conflict. It further argues that four logics behind disappearances in those situations continue into the post-transition. These include the clandestine logic, or hiding crimes against humanity from domestic and international scrutiny. Those disappearances also tend to involve marginalised populations; a ‘disposable people’ logic creates framing devices that transform citizens into those without rights or visibility. A political-economy logic emerges with cheap and exploitable workers, who are disappeared when their labour utility is exhausted; those with economic and political power commit these atrocities with impunity. The logic of ambiguous loss becomes a form of social control. Grieving processes are blocked when relatives lack certainty that the person is gone. They further lack the necessary evidence of death and wrongdoing to pursue redress. These four logics together, the project contends, explain why disappearances previously studied only in authoritarian or armed conflict contexts prevail also in the post-transition.

Keywords:   Disappeared, Disappearance, Disposable people, Post-transition, Authoritarian rule, Armed conflict, Ambiguous loss, Political-economy, Labour

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