Ghosts and compañeros: haunting stories and the quest for justice around Argentina's former terror sites

The policies adopted by the Argentine government since 2003 in favour of truth, memory and justice have resulted in the opening up of former clandestine detention centres (CDCs) to the public, and their transformation into sites of memory. The practices and discourses developed at such locations, however, produce their own silences and shadows. In this article, I explore narratives about ghosts and other supernatural phenomena that are attached to the remnants of former places of terror. I draw on the concept of haunting as a key to understanding the figure of the desaparecido (the ‘disappeared’), who is neither dead nor alive and dwells in an intermediate realm, and who also signals a demand for historical justice. Unlike the official narratives told at the former CDCs, stories of haunting are told in low voices and tend to emerge in liminal spaces. I suggest that these stories are symptoms of an unease, and that they ought to be considered in relation to the difficulty of mourning or accepting loss. They draw attention to the latent legacies of the past that might not be completely accounted for within more ideologically informed, rational approaches to commemorating the past.