Speaking from Silence: Silence as Truth in the Narratives of Surviving Women

Karin Davidovich

Abstract


Through the study of testimonial texts and personal interviews of women survivors of the last dictatorship in Argentina, I argue that while all testimonies of horror are permeated by the presence of silence, women’s testimonial productions from the nineties present two important aspects that differentiate them from other testimonies. The first one is that they suggest a difference between two types of silences in their narratives, one that is mute and another one that is eloquent. The second aspect these testimonies present is a call for the receptor to be able to hear these eloquent silences. Thus, the silences in these narratives do not hide the truth, but are themselves the truth. Women-historically associated with silence- are the ones capable of speaking from within the silence, making this not the opposite of language, but the language itself as the language of trauma. Their accounts invite us to explore the silences, to decipher and to read what lies beyond words, training our ears to hear these unspeakable truths. However, accepting the impossibility of representing these horror-filled experiences does not mean to put an end to the debate, on the contrary, it means to work and elaborate these silences in order to transform both the victim’s identity and the society itself in order to create empathetic listeners and new modes of citizenship.

Keywords


Testimony, memory, Argentina, genre, trauma.

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/ct/2014.53

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