“Argentinean Army Officials in Democracy: New Challenges for the Military Profession”

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 6D P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Alejandra NAVARRO, University of Buenos Aires - Argentina, Argentina
As a part of Argentina’s democratic transition after 1983, the Armed Forces faced a series of challenges which implied in normative, organizational, and educational reforms. Among the later, some of those changes implied for most educational institutions the revision and redesign of their syllabi. A modernization landmark for the Army was the creation in 1990 of the Army’s Higher Education Institute (Instituto de Enseñanza Superior del Ejército, IESE), which gradually took under its direction most of the army’s existing educational centers. The reform also reached the country’s Military School (Colegio Militar de la Nación), whose institutional status was upgraded from tertiary to university. Army cadets started to receive an important amount of academic training to the detriment of military training. For some cadets, this meant some sort of defeat: “we applied [to this School] to receive military instruction”, as an official puts it. The changes involved entailed substantial symbolic transformations for both institution and its members.

Our work deals with the following questions: How are the abovementioned changes experienced by those who have studied and are working as Army officials within the after-military-dictatorship context? What is the meaning of a military career in the present scenario? “It’s like attempting a surgery without a surgical knife”, as someone put it. The testimonies collected in our fieldwork seem to suggest a feeling of pointlessness, ultimately discouragement, with respect to the profession. Based on biographical interviews, we attempt to reconstruct Army cadets’ educational and professional trajectories as a means to explore their perceptions about the changes experienced.