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SA Argentina Program

'New Beginnings': Argentina and South Africa. A comparative study in the rhetorical shaping of democracy

Material is based upon work supported by the National Research Foundation

Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the author(s) and therefore the NRF does not accept any liability in regard thereto.

Project Investigators:

Principal Investigators: Ph-J Salazar and Claudia Hilb (UBA)

Sponsor: NRF and Argentina Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation

GUN: 75930

Duration: April 2011 to March 2014


Our Project deals with a comparative enquiry in the rhetorical shaping of democratic “new beginnings”. It compares the way in which the relations between truth, justice and politics as set in the new political realities of Argentina and South Africa, after their regime change, are shaped by public deliberative or rhetorical strategies and institutional settings that were put in place to create, sustain or restrain the difficult equation between those three factors.

In both cases, the solutions that these countries came up with were considered exemplary and unprecedented.

At the same time, there are substantial differences between the Argentine solution and the South African solution. In very simple terms, there is one emblematic difference between the two: in Argentina, the solution involved retributive justice, while in South Africa, the country opted for unveiling the truth. This difference in approach created, in our view, two different ways of “making democracy work” as they filtered through public discourse and shaped public deliberation (or “rhetorics”) regarding political agency and public responsibility in terms of “New Beginnings”.

The objective of this Project is to examine the rhetorical shaping and the historical- political setting of truth, justice and the founding often heralded or labelled as “new beginnings” of democratic politics.

The Project will first focus on the unprecedented foundational status of the truth- seeking commissions and of the trials of past crimes as the performative result of institutional settings and rhetorical strategies, and, secondly, on the ways in which the outcomes of these redress procedures have shaped public discourse beyond their immediate effect, or how, in short, Argentina and South Africa were fitted with new sets of rhetorical arguments regarding their “new beginnings” and, in terms of continental politics, their “exemplarity”.

"Nuevos comienzos: Justicia, verdad y reconciliación en Argentina, Uruguay y Sudáfrica", Buenos Aires 6-7 December
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