There has been a revolution in the past three countries I have lived which has defined and shaped the country’s culture, politics, art, tourism … and really almost every small detail in the citizens’ way of life. Revolutions can be good or bad for the country, but it all depends on how you are reading them politically. In Germany there was the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 (also known as “die Wende”), in Egypt there was the 2011 revolution with the oust of Mubarak, and in Argentina there have been many “revolutions” and transitions of power/ government, but an extremely significant moment was a military coup d’etat on March 24th, 1976. This day marked a dark shift for the next seven years because over 30,000 people were tortured, killed, or went missing.
For these moments in history, whether they are a symbol marking a future of freedom or oppression, collective memory is a significant power that the public can use to move their country in a positive direction after the fact. Public memorials, museums, and visible markers facilitate this. In Berlin I saw golden stolpersteine memorials placed in the street among other cobblestones to signify the former home of a jew sent to a concentration camp. In Cairo the graffiti scene is a significant underground movement that commemorates the revolution’s martyrs. Here in Buenos Aires a group called Barrios x Memoria y Justicia has been placing tiles in the streets to make visible and honor those who were killed / disappeared after the 1976 during the dirty war.
Many of these missing people during the seven years of military dictatorship in Argentina were never found, and they are still being searched for today. Sometimes these people will finally be identified in unmarked burials through DNA analysis, but many people were lost forever and their families never knew what happened. These red decorated tiles then serve also as an alternative to cemetery headstones because they are placed at the location of disappeared’s former residence or where they were kidnapped (if it was known). The physical body may not be recovered, but then instead the haunted location where they once walked and lived fills role instead. And the power in this all is that people cannot escape these memorials because they see them every day.. the cemetery is pushed into a public sphere as a consequence for the fact that the victims were denied the right to be buried in a private peaceful place.
(*A note to Sweden: sorry for not including you, but your history of neutrality and pacifist culture in the last 200 years is your own fault.)
And now here is some incredibly delicious Argentinian Pizza/ chickpea flour bread to lighten the mood… pizzerias are all over Buenos Aires. You can’t walk 50 meters without finding one. Pizza here often does not have tomato sauce and you eat it with a bit of the chickpea thing placed on top.