Department or Program



In 1977 in Buenos Aires, Argentina the Madres of the Plaza de Mayo first stepped into the plaza to strike back against the disappearance of their children. A plethora of literature exists analyzing the nonlinear path these women constructed as their organization evolved, but close readings of their words are rare. In my thesis, I take the academics’ arguments about politics, gender, feminism and social change and incorporate them into a conversation about collective identity, solidarity and the reactive and affective emotions that provoked their actions. The first chapter serves as an introductory literature review of the dialogue between academics. In Chapter II, I dig deep into questions about human rights discourse and the influence of the international press. Within Chapter III I conduct a close reading of the mothers’ personal words, using James Jasper’s theories on emotions and social protest, Darren Walhof’s interpretations of Hans-George Gadamer’s politics of solidarity and Pierre Nora’s construction of place and memory to shape my analysis of the mothers’ books and interviews. I conclude my thesis in Chapter IV by addressing the discussion of performance theory previously used to understand these women’s use of motherhood. I reflect on the need to take into greater account the role of affective and reactive emotions as triggers for further decisions. Throughout I provide a model through which to re-examine what led to that sense of community, internal strength and urgency that motivated the efforts of these women.

Level of Access

Restricted: Embargoed [Bates Community After Expiration]

First Advisor

Aburto Guzman, Claudia

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file