The Christian Left in Argentina
My doctoral research investigated the Christian left in Argentina, understanding it as a dynamic, diverse and internally contested socio-religious movement. As such, the movement transcended political and denominational divides, incorporating some of the minority Protestant sectors in addition to large numbers of Catholics. I follow different strands in the history of this movement, including the dialogue between Marxism and Christianity in the 1960s that tended to revolve around a humanist language which had come to represent a break with previous dominant tendencies in each. As such, I challenge perceptions that posit liberation theology as merely the result of internal religious developments, demonstrating how changes in the left also enabled political and intellectual engagement. I also look at how this diverse phenomenon mobilised into a social movement in the 1960s and 1970s, offering new interpretations of how intra-ecclesial and political conflicts helped to shape the structure and ideas of the movement. The research shows that such conflicts were at the heart of the construction of a liberationist Christian identity, which internalised deep tensions over its relationship to the Catholic Church institution. Finally, I also examine different political responses of the liberationist Christian movement to the intense period of political violence and repression, known by scholars and activists as state terrorism (1974-1983), identifying three important trajectories: de-politicisation and reintegration into Catholic Church institutional structures, which allowed some degree of challenge to the dictatorship; a refusal to abandon revolutionary politics, which almost invariably resulted in disappearance, torture, assassination or exile; and integration into the human rights movement, an option often led by Protestant and ecumenical sectors. In exploring these distinct political options and uncovering this heterogeneity of liberationist Christianity, the thesis provides a corrective to existing scholarship that often depicts the movement as homogenous or as a passive victim of the dictatorship. Having published an intellectual history study of Marxism in Argentine liberationist Christianity, I am currently working on two books: a monograph that covers the history of the movement in Argentina; and a collected volume on liberation theology in Latin America.
Exile, Solidarity and Transnationalism in Cold War Latin America
My more recent research looks at the global dynamics of the resistance to state terrorism in Latin America during the Cold War. Focusing primarily on Argentina and the period of state terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s, this research explores the ways in which exiles, solidarity activists and human rights advocates mobilised in opposition to authoritarianism. In doing so, I show how the migrating political cultures interacted with organisations and institutions of receiving countries as well as international channels. Different political models - including Latin American anti-imperialism, legalistic/apolitical human rights perspectives, trade unions internationalism and local militant networks - coexisted within a transnational solidarity movement comprised of groups that overlapped significantly but were often in tension. My work also shows how these solidarity networks contributed to important changes within the emergent international human rights movement, challenging the traditional approach to the history of human rights which focuses on North to South pressures.
My research begins in the UK, reconstructing the under-explored case of the Argentina solidarity movement, but will expand into other locations in Europe (especially Spain, Italy, France, Sweden and Belgium) and the Americas (Canada, USA, Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela). Combining interviews and archival research, I am in the process of mapping out the various solidarity organisations and hope to track the movement of exiles. The project crosses social movement studies, social history and intellectual history, investigating the formation of networks and political organisations, the lived experience of activists and migrants and the development and interplay of co-existing ideologies. Currently, I am working on a co-edited volume on the construction of transnational spaces in Europe in opposition to Southern Cone dictatorships during the Cold War.