During the years of military rule in Argentinean the 1970s, Alicia Partnoy was a young student who, along with her husband and thousands of others, was “disappeared.” For five months, she was held in a clandestine prison by government forces for daring to argue for social equality and human rights. Her 18-month-old daughter Ruth was fortunate to have been found by her grandparents and raised by Raquel and her husband until Alicia’s release. Alicia was one of the few survivors of this kind of brutal detention, and after two and a half additional years in jail, she was expelled from the country and admitted to the United States as a refugee with her daughter. Her parents later followed, and together they rebuilt their lives in Washington DC.
Raquel, Alicia and Ruth have made use of literature, poetry and visual art to process their traumatic personal experiences, as well as to raise awareness about human rights abuses in Argentina and other places in the world. The paintings of visual artist Raquel Partnoy are a call to action on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Alicia Partnoy’s 1982 book, The Little School, was the first testimonial written in English, describing in detail an Argentine secret detention center. It is still widely read and taught today and it was presented as evidence in the recent trials against the genocide perpetrators. Ruth Irupé Sanabria’s book, The Strange House Testifies (2009), is the first book to poetically document the Argentinian genocide from a child’s point of view.
Raquel Partnoy, Alicia Partnoy and Ruth Irupé Sanabria will share their art, writing, memories and commentary on the continuing struggles for justice in Argentina. They will discuss their conviction that active engagement and resistance through creative expression is worth the effort and the risk, providing the possibility of countering destructive violence with creative healing and regeneration that benefits society as a whole.