Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina's Dirty War / Edition 1

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Overview

In Disappearing Acts, Diana Taylor looks at how national identity is shaped, gendered, and contested through spectacle and spectatorship. The specific identity in question is that of Argentina, and Taylor’s focus is directed toward the years 1976 to 1983 in which the Argentine armed forces were pitted against the Argentine people in that nation’s "Dirty War." Combining feminism, cultural studies, and performance theory, Taylor analyzes the political spectacles that comprised the war—concentration camps, torture, "disappearances"—as well as the rise of theatrical productions, demonstrations, and other performative practices that attempted to resist and subvert the Argentine military.
Taylor uses performance theory to explore how public spectacle both builds and dismantles a sense of national and gender identity. Here, nation is understood as a product of communal "imaginings" that are rehearsed, written, and staged—and spectacle is the desiring machine at work in those imaginings. Taylor argues that the founding scenario of Argentineness stages the struggle for national identity as a battle between men—fought on, over, and through the feminine body of the Motherland. She shows how the military’s representations of itself as the model of national authenticity established the parameters of the conflict in the 70s and 80s, feminized the enemy, and positioned the public—limiting its ability to respond. Those who challenged the dictatorship, from the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo to progressive theater practitioners, found themselves in what Taylor describes as "bad scripts." Describing the images, myths, performances, and explanatory narratives that have informed Argentina’s national drama, Disappearing Acts offers a telling analysis of the aesthetics of violence and the disappearance of civil society during Argentina’s spectacle of terror.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Disappearing Acts is brilliant. Clearly written, passionate, informed, will-argued, interesting in the extreme, it is a model piece of scholarship.”—Richard Schechner, New York University

“Stunning, in every sense. Disappearing Acts is a compelling performance in words and in pictures of the seductions played by Argentina’s dictatorship.”—Doris Sommer, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822318682
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 5.99 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Diana Taylor is Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College. She is coeditor of Negotiating Performance, also published by Duke University Press.

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 Caught in the Spectacle 1
2 Gendering the National "Self" 29
3 Military Males, "Bad" Women, and a Dirty, Dirty War 59
4 The Theatre of Operations: Performing Nation-ness in the Public Sphere 91
5 Percepticide 119
6 Disappearing Bodies: Writing Torture and Torture as Writing 139
7 Trapped in Bad Scripts: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo 183
8 Staging Battles of Gender and Nation-ness: Teatro Abierto 1981 223
9 Crossing the Line: Watching Violence in the "Other" Country 255
Notes 267
Bibliography 291
Index 305
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