After Argentina’s economic collapse in 2001, a discourse around body politics became strongly engaged in not only tackling but also actively working through the country’s painful dictatorial past. A project called Memory under Construction brought the taboo issue of torture within the notorious secret detention center at the Éscuela de Mécanica de la Armada (ESMA) into the public space, turning the building into a museum and offering educational tours through the torture chambers. In Greece, as well as Spain and Portugal, the recent great economic recessions have led to a gradual re-examination of post-authoritarian structures and processes—a second wave of historical inquiry. These changing socioeconomic models and political paradigms dictate a re-evaluation of social transitions and prompt questions regarding the quality of democracy itself. Furthermore, social movements from below often act as carriers of memory of a painful past. Kornetis’s comparative lecture focuses on the ways in which a violent past is treated in the case of present-day Greece, focusing on the particular ways in which the private history of torture and suffering turns into public knowledge.
Kostis Kornetis is UC3M CONEX-Marie Curie Fellow at the Department of History, Carlos III University, Madrid. His research focuses on the history and memory of the 1960s, the methodology of oral history, and the use of film as a source for social and cultural history. His book Children of the Dictatorship. Student Resistance, Cultural Politics and the “Long 1960s” in Greece was published in 2013 and was awarded the 2015 Edmund Keeley Book Award. He is currently working on a book project on the memory of transitions to democracy in Southern Europe and Latin America.