Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Languages, Literatures and Cultures


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Mercedes López-Rodríguez


Burdened by the atrocities of Argentina’s coup d’état (1976-1982), many children of persecuted parents were forced to live as clandestine hideaways. In recent decades, adult survivors who experience the dictatorship as clandestine children have become primary protagonists, seeking to (re)construct past experiences through the creation of visual and textual productions. In attempt to (re)create their experience in hiding; such adults propose an alternative non-conventional image of a witnessing childhood under military rule as the child of prosecuted parents. For such children, life in secrecy meant having to find refuge from state officials seeking to eliminate their parents. It demanded strict obedience, discipline, and careful maneuverings of behaviors and adhere to strict performative practices—taking upon them new identities, while attempting to deceive military officials, and appeal to a sense of normalcy amongst close family, friends, and public surroundings for the safety and protection of entire families. As such, children had to perform childhood in its literal sense, to protect themselves and those around them from the terror seeking to destroy them. The use of performative childhood in this research, works to highlight the performative accounts of non-normative behaviors of survival and militancy within the constraints of living in clandestinidad.

My approach to the politics of memory in post dictatorship is to propose a performative reading of childhood—to (re)think and (re)imagine child identities of what children in hiding had to live and fluidity of their identities. Through the understanding of child witnessing and personal experiences as participating actors within life in secrecy, this group of survivors regain ‘ownership’ of their own experiences. The cultural productions chosen in this research contain primary accounts of children living in secrecy. These consist of Laura Alcoba’s novel The Rabbit House written in 2008, and Marcelo Piñeyro’s film Kamchatka (2002) and Benjamin Avila’s film Infancia Clandestina (2011).


© 2018, Stephanie Rubi Orozco