Historians Killed for Political Reasons in Ibero-America (1920–2020)

Antoon de Baets*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    This essay examines the Ibero-American history producers who were
    killed for political reasons during the past century. It presents sixty-one
    victims from eight countries. Of these, 82% were killed by state forces,
    16% by non-state forces. Dictatorships had the worst scores (57% of the
    victims), while flawed democracies also saw considerable casualties
    (33%), in contrast to emergent (7%) and stable democracies (3%). Much
    evidence was found for the thesis that killing these history producers did
    not necessarily mean the erasure of their names or achievements. Out of
    the sixty-one victims, nine (15%) were killed for political reasons that were
    mainly or partly related to their historical works. Six of these, however,
    occurred under democracies, particularly flawed or emergent democracies,
    and not under dictatorships. This finding leads to the hypothesis that
    well-entrenched dictatorships, wielding ruthless power, deter and block
    incriminating historical research – making the killing of history producers
    for history-related reasons relatively rare – whereas freer conditions in
    flawed and emergent democracies prompt or encourage such dangerous historical research. Those investigating past systemic violence or the crimes
    of previous dictatorships then risk becoming targets of the military seeking
    to install or restore authoritarian rule.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1
    Pages (from-to)13-47
    Number of pages35
    JournalRevista de História das Ideias
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 16-Jun-2021

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