Abstract: Motherhood, Memory, and the Future of Law

My name is Emily Jackson and I am an International Relations major and rising senior currently spending a semester abroad in La Plata, Argentina. During Argentina’s military dictatorship of 1976 to 1983, the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo gained international attention by using truth, memory and their motherhood to resist. Their fight contributed to the exposure and ousting of the juntas, and was instrumental in the development of innovative means of transitional justice when faced with blocks to criminal trials even after the dictatorship fell. My research seeks to examine what made Argentina’s motherist activist movement so successful while lawyers, academics and others were persecuted or ignored, and how civil society interacted with national politics during and after the dictatorship to invent new means of justice. How can the power of memory and motherist activism, and the legal innovations they inspired, influence conceptions of human rights, international criminal procedure, and forms of transitional justice in a modern global context? By analyzing discourse and law using primary sources in Argentina, I seek to not just explain the Argentine experience, but to propose a mechanism for innovative justice modeled after Argentina derived from the universally relatable experiences of memory and motherhood.