Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Political Performance of Motherhood: Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo Es

The Political Performance of Motherhood: Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo During the Argentine dictatorship known as the Dirty War (1976-1983), thousands of people were systematically abducted by the government in order to eliminate all opposition to the regime. These "disappearances," which the dictatorship never admitted to committing, happened across class and age lines, but most of the kidnapped were young students and blue-collar workers. Despite the fact that associations and meetings of any kind were forbidden, a group of housewife mothers decided to protest the disappearance of their children. They began to gather every Thursday afternoon at the same time in the main square in Buenos Aires, Plaza de Mayo, walking alone or in pairs to avoid being arrested for disorderly conduct and wearing white kerchiefs on their heads to be easily identifiable. By showcasing their grief in public, the Madres de Plaza de Mayo turned their motherhood into a performance, and their bodies into political tools, to hold the government accountable. A 1985 Oscar-nominated documentary by Lourdes Portillo and Susana Muà ±oz, named after the group, not only recorded the Madres' performance of their collective identity, but was also instrumental in providing a broader audience for said performance. Traditionally, motherhood in Latin America is restricted to the realm of the private. Diana Taylor explains that "'public' women [...] are considered prostitutes or madwomen—that is, nonmothers, even antimothers," while "good mothers are invisible," (1) because they stay home with their children. However, the Madres carved for themselves a third position that broke this dichotomy, going on to become "one of the most visible political discourses of resist... ... Works Cited: Butler, Judith. "Gender is Burning: Questions of Appropriation and Subversion." Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. New York: Routledge, 1993. 121-140. Fregoso, Rosa Linda. "Lourdes Portillo: The Devil Never Sleeps and Other Films." University of Texas. 2001. hooks, bell. "Is Paris Burning?" Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End, 1992. 145-156. Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo. Dir. Lourdes Portillo and Susana Muà ±oz. Videocassette. Xà ³chitl Films. 63 min. Navarro, Marysa. "The Personal is Political: Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo." Power and Popular Protest. Latin American Social Movements. Ed. Susan Eckstein. 1989. Taylor, Diana. "Trapped in Bad Scripts: The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo". Disappearing Acts. Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina's "Dirty War." Duke Univ. Press: 1997. 183-222.

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