Latin American Anthropology Seminar- “Palabras contra balas”

Trajectories to Understand the Absence: An Ethnographic Reading of the Materiality and Intersubjectivity of the (No)Body among Missing Persons’ Families in the Peruvian Andes

Convenor: Ainhoa Montoya (ILAS, SAS)

Speaker: Mario R. Cepeda-Caceres, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

The internal armed conflict 1980-2000, greatest episode of violence in the republican history of Peru. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (or CVR for its initials in Spanish), more than 69 000 Peruvians were murdered during those decades. Currently, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights has managed to establish that the number of missing persons due to the war rises to 20 511. In this scenario, based on the ethnographic work carried out with the National Association of Relatives of the Kidnapped, Detained and Disappeared of Peru (or ANFASEP in Spanish) —main Peruvian victims’ association—, this presentation will analyze how the violent experience of disappearance acts on the missing subjects, as well as on those who remain alive and undertake the search for their love ones.

Two trajectories are identified through which disappearance passes between subjects: the materiality, linked to the body, and the intersubjectivity, linked to what will be called “the non-body”. The presentation will explore how disappearance annuls the body and, therefore, the ties of daily life and certainty between the subjects; while in the non-body realm, disappearance does not succeed in annulling the subjects as social beings despite ending their physical existence. Through each of the trajectories family member who seek will implement techniques in order to respond to the uncertainty of the loss of the body, on one hand, and to be able to build alternative forms of relationship with the non-body, on the other.

The presentation will conclude that, based on these trajectories, ANFASEP’s members have managed to position themselves as political subjects, building citizenship from the margins of the State based.

Date: 22 March 2021