State Violence and Transgender Cultural Politics in Post-Dictatorship Argentina

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This dissertation turns to illiberal state violence and state formation in Latin America’s Southern Cone region as the ground for trans politics and activisms. Focusing on the entanglements of Argentine trans politics with histories of dictatorship (1976-83), I ask: how do contemporary transgender cultural producers deploy and revise historical narratives of national trauma to stake gender rights claims in the present? What sorts of political, aesthetic, and legal tactics do trans cultural producers adopt within political contexts hyper-saturated by state violence? What ethical and political challenges arise? In response, I formulate a trans framework of analysis that combines archival, visual culture, literary, and ethnographic methods to study contemporary transgender politics and cultural production as these have taken shape in response to shifting Argentine state formations.

Each chapter considers how trans activists strategically deploy existing visual and material culture, activist strategies, and legal interventions developed by antigenocide activists such as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo to forward trans rights claims. In doing so, my work traces unexpected affinities between Argentine transgender and antigenocide politics, cultural production, and activisms. Taken together, the dissertation’s chapters evoke an interdisciplinary method that twins the study of cultural practices with histories of state violence, focusing on gender and sexuality as central to such analyses. By tracing the ways Argentine trans activists reanimate the past to meet the demands of the present, my dissertation offers an historical interpretation of trans political subjectivity that extends and revises trans studies’ geopolitical imagination, bringing Latinx American archives, national histories, and political strategies to bear on existing trans studies scholarship.






Rizki, Cole Alexander (2020). State Violence and Transgender Cultural Politics in Post-Dictatorship Argentina. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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