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Scholarly Article

Citizen-Victims and Masters of their Own Destiny: Political Exiles and their National and Transnational Impact

Author:

Luis Roniger

Wake Forest University, US
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Abstract

Exiles have been victims of a form of institutional exclusion that characterized many polities in Latin America. This article puts forward two claims. First, that until recently their displacement was largely dismissed as basis for recognition of victimhood. In the Cold War era, this was due primarily to the exiles’ own perception of being militants willing to forego a personal sacrifice for their cause, an image they personified against the accusations of treason and betrayal of the nation that those in power projected onto them. Later, this lack of recognition of exiles as victims was retained due to the concentration of attention on prototypical victims of repression such as the detained-disappeared or the long-term political prisoners. The second claim put forward is that, while ignored as victims, exiles remained agents of their own destiny and reclaimed their abrogated national identity and citizenship. Being displaced and having lost the political entitlements of citizenship, they were forced to come to grips with past defeats, face present challenges, and reconstruct their future. It was under those conditions that exile had not just constraining effects, but also expanding effects. Exile also provided windows of opportunity to change statuses, upgrade skills, discover strengths, and develop new relationships. It thus often became a transformative experience, a kind of aggiornamento, which is analyzed here focusing on some of its impacts on the reconstruction of Southern Cone societies in post-dictatorial times.
How to Cite: Roniger, L., (2017). Citizen-Victims and Masters of their Own Destiny: Political Exiles and their National and Transnational Impact. Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies. 1(1), pp.30–52. DOI: http://doi.org/10.23870/marlasv1n1lr1
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Published on 24 Mar 2017.
Peer Reviewed

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