I found this assignment incredibly moving and provocative. Your class in general has made me rethink and question what it means to be a history major. I am so comfortable with readings and historical accounts, papers and analysis. Throughout it has dawned on me how clinical my experience with history courses has been. The lack of a personal, emotional lens through which to look at our studies is crippling. This project has offered that to me and I have absolutely struggled with it but am so much more aware of the reality of the Dirty Wars. As historians, it is difficult – and most likely impossible – to ever truly understand the complexities of our subjects. I think there is a tendency to dilute history and maybe that’s the nature of the discipline. But this project has allowed a glimpse into another possible method of studying history – one that in a way, connects us a little bit more to those we are studying. Something that really stuck with me from last class was the discussion of how in trying to tell someone else’s story, we’re often telling our own. I felt that way a lot while writing in Antonio’s voice and I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. But now I’m thinking that maybe that’s part of the process.
I wish I had taken this course in another semester because this one has been really hard for me. I got so much from the class but regret that I didn’t have more time and more emotional capacity to put into it. I have never really been this sad a class is ending. And saying goodbye to Antonio is weirdly upsetting. It’s kind of like letting go of someone. I spent so long writing about how Antonio didn’t want to forget and now I feel like I’m leaving him behind before he’s gotten real closure. Like I’m doing the forgetting for him. Not sure if that makes sense.
The part of the course that has been most meaningful for me is this last portion on history and memory. After writing a research paper on the truth commissions of Guatemala and South Africa last semester I decided that I wanted to go into reconciliation or transitional justice. This course has allowed me to continue to learn about that field and I’ve only grown more enthusiastic. Kate Doyle was so awesome and inspiring. I think that I’ve realized how important it is to acknowledge the difference between institutional history and personal history. I have found it so valuable to learn about the many actors who attempt to influence memory and how they do this. I am more conscious of the ways individuals and groups seek to construct an official historical narrative. While there are historical facts, I think it’s important to not view history as fact. I hope that I will be more critical of how narratives have come to be.
Overall this course has deepened my understanding of history as a discipline and the responsibilities that accompany its study. The stories I’ve read have also reminded me of the responsibilities of being human. With so many human rights abuses occurring daily, it is so incredibly important to be compassionate and generous. I need to be more engaged with what is happening and how I can help.
Thank you so much for a wonderful semester. This course could not have been everything it was without your willingness to put your honesty and your heart into it. I have loved being a part of the class.