By Gabriela Diaz de Sabates
Dr. Díaz de Sabatés has worked on issues of gender, race and ethnicity, and migration for several years. Recently, she has ventured into a new area of research that relates to her past. When she was younger, she spent most of her adolescence in Argentina, a country that was ruled by one of the most violent and bloody military regimes in the region. It is no surprise that the late twentieth-century history of Argentina has come to shape her research today.
Díaz de Sabatés believes that keeping memory alive and working through it is one of the main tasks of socially-conscious feminism. Because of this, she takes a look at the life stories of women who were immersed in the violent ruptures and continuities between democracy and dictatorship in Argentina from 1973 to the present. Her new research focuses on how women’s lives were affected then and now by the dictatorship. She uses knowledges that centers on women’s personal narratives of their life experiences. During the last dictatorship, just because of their gender, Argentinean women were particularly vulnerable. Therefore, they were subjected to all kinds of violence. Society’s gender expectations of women became combined with the military regime’s treatment of politically involved women activists. This created a straight jacket that confined women to traditional female roles.
Díaz de Sabatés believes that the voices of women whose lives were violated by state terror and violence can guide us to a collective process of naming –and thus making visible- what has remained silent and invisible for years. Therefore, women’s life narratives are central to her work. If scholars fail to research, document, and analyze the connection between the horror stories that women lived during terror times to the larger context of women’s life narratives in the societies they inhabit, then there will be a serious risk of losing women’s memories altogether. If women’s memories become diluted within a larger “official” history that only speaks of Argentinean society’s general gender expectations of women, then women’s resilience and the analytical power of their stories could be lost. This feminist scholar wants to make sure that we learn everything we can from these Argentinian women.