Against the nap

9am, we’ve got an incredible sunny day. I prepare myself some mates and I switch the computer on to start working. Sun comes thru the window and dazzles me… I can’t resist it, I’ve got to go out. I go out.

It’s the perfect morning to take the bike. Sometimes, walking or cycling help my thoughts to create a rhythm… I start imagining possible mental routes of the city, that might help me with my own story about History.

I don’t really think there’s any historical truth, because truth itself is never one, and, as we already know, History is written by power. There are, that’s true, different stories of History. And as long as History is alive, in perpetual motion, it allows us to take our part and to modify it.

For example, look at this square, full of railings. All squares in town are in prison! It’s strange, but I think History can be read in these gestures; these gestures are those, which weave a city’s tale and tell us a story.

And look, here’s the Congress, the National Congress, and just a few metres away is May’s Square, where the Mothers make their famous round with handkerchiefs in their heads, the Town hall where our freedom and everyone’s equality were declared, and there, a couple of metres away, Roca’s monument. Among so many democratic symbols, the city tributes the racist genocide who established slavery in 1879, before eliminated by our progressive Year XIII Assembly. And there is General Roca, who even has a museum (named as him) full of pictures of all the First Nation people he massacred. That’s the own history that carved bodies and cities, and our bodies and our city were shaped by repetitive terror since 1930 from our military governments, which were almost as many as our civil governments.

Then, if I had to map the city today, I would do it from these symbols, a national hero in every avenue, a railing in every square, places used at the last military dictatorship as clandestine detention and torture centres, just to end, straight away, with the current, savage and systematic evictions operated by Macri’s Buenos Aires government (just to satisfy his real estate millionaire business) against community centres, retrieved by social and neighbours’ organizations that promoted culture, memory and social and political thinking as only aims.

Look, here was Almagro’s Assembly, over there Orgázmika’s Orchard, there Trivenchi’s Cultural Centre, in that building of Chacarita more than eleven organizations were operating, and there, at Villa Urquiza, were Casa Zitarrosa and 25 de Mayo cultural centre, and many others…

That’s the story, the natural semantic of a city that severely addresses me.

But in this mapping I would also include the other side, all resistance spaces, collectives, organizations and different projects, which cast doubt upon hegemonic system from their headquarters.

To cast doubt upon this, is start thinking History against the nap, is generate thinking spaces to represent the world, and they are essential to define a critical position.

I do cast doubt upon schoolbooks, lying maps, intoxicating information monopolized from economic groups, a divided country, History made from stories told by those who dominated, institutionalized stories, institutions itself, those stories which place out of the map the First Nations, the weak, the different and the poor, those who literally fall off the map.

And in that other side, the most powerful symbol is those women, Mothers and Grandmothers of the Mayo Square, insubordinate and disruptive, who recovered for the whole country a social imaginary of resistance against an oppressive system, of struggle and confidence in unity and solidarity from both individuals and people: to me, they are the specific example that change is possible and that, as Osvaldo Bayer says, “in History Ethics always win”.

Translation: Ralph del Valle

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