JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004 Page: 343
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adapting Peter Goodrich's insight to this case, the law institutes an order
of discourse that prohibits those heterodoxies of speech/identity/memory
that are deemed to threaten not only the legitimacy of legal meaning, but
also the signifying power of the nation (vii).
The desire for national self-vindication and integrity can avoid its
disturbing implications with the now abject authoritarian ideals by
drawing on the symbolic blanket of the law, by drawing on the supposed
assurance of an "objective" (technically "neutral") mechanism for com-
ing to terms with the violent past. By promising a "neutral" means for
producing knowledge of the past and a communicative and consensual
process for appreciating and building solidarity around the deliberative
virtues of (liberal) democracy, the trial can be read as an attempt at
dejecting or containing the anxieties that riddle the nation. According to
then President Alfonsin, it was imperative for Argentines to face the
violent past through "collective deliberation; ample and logical debate;
in which decision-making is regulated by the rule of the majority and
judicial procedures. In this way, the various groups agree to submit their
differences to the mediation of a shared normative order that establishes
mechanisms to solve eventual conflicts peacefully... and consolidate
social cohesion" (qtd. in Roniger and Sznajder, Legacy 57). Following
Foucault's claims on the production of discourse, we can read the
collective rational-judicial deliberation process as attempting to produce
knowledge that "is at once controlled, selected, organized and redistrib-
uted accordingto a number of procedures whose role is to avert its powers
and its dangers, to master the unpredictable event" (qtd. in Gaete 52). By
bracketing the discussion within legal (supposedly "neutral") questions
and protocols, the possibilities of recognizing the other-both the victims
and the now abject authoritarian ideals-can be more or less framed so
as to avoid those "dangerous" and "unpredictable" instances. In other
words, the appeal to the law as means for "coming to terms with the past"
resides in its very mechanism for bounding knowledge, for it seems that
the "neutral" deliberation process implicit in the law avoids or contains
those "other" messy instances that would contradict the national imagi-
nary and consequently problematize the process for reconciliation. To
frame the legal strategy in this way is clearly to grant a privileged or
determining role to a dialogue that brings about "social deliberation"
within the boundaries of a national conciliatory myth, rather than to what
problematizes, contradicts, or ruptures its vocabulary and cohesion.
In this sense, the educative justification for the trial seems rather
incapable of acknowledging those instances of excess, those other
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Association of Teachers of Advanced Composition (U.S.). JAC: A Journal of Composition Theory, Volume 24, Number 2, 2004, periodical, 2004; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28644/m1/89/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .