Watermarks - Floods and Memoryscape in Santa Fe (Argentina)
Swedish National Defence College CRISMART Stockholm, Sweden
SESSION 6: Disastrous floods are a recurrent problem for the people living in the city of Santa Fe since colonial times. On April 29th of 2003 occurred what is currently referred to as "La Inundación" [The Flood] and is described as the worst flood ever in the history of Santa Fe, given that it affected areas of the town that never before had been flooded. This disaster prompted an unprecedented memory work, principally enacted by disaster victim groups "Los Inundados [the Flood Victims]" demanding the State for moral and economic reparation for their suffering. This process takes place by means of social practices, which range from public rituals of protest by Los Inundados to everyday life activities of the affected inhabitants. The intense memory work of La Inundación has indeed dominated the social memoryscape in Santa Fe since 2003. At the same time it has worked as a memory device in itself, prompting older memories of past floods to stand out again and thereby constituting what Shaw calls "palimpsest memories" (2002). A closer look into this model reveals that only certain past disasters stand out in memory however. Others continue in to the shadows of oblivion. Based on ethnography from my fieldwork in the city of Santa Fe in 2004-2008, this aims at understanding what social processes forge this selective memory work.