The documentary evidence of Gregorio's Selser's lifelong quest for knowledge and understanding lay the foundation for the work of the CAMeNA. But Selser's hunger for knowledge and understanding, his apparently inexhaustible curiosity were not of the kind that, as Foucault put it in The History of Sexuality, 'seeks to assimilate what is proper for one to know'. Selser's curiosity was of 'the only kind … that is worth acting upon with a degree of obstinacy': … that which enables one to get free of oneself.' In Selser's case, this would have initially referred to the conditions under which he grew up as the orphaned child of poor Jewish-Ukrainian immigrants. Later on, the curiosity he came to pursue so obstinately placed him outside the life of the obedient, submissive subject who does not ask any questions, who would rather not know what those in power do not want him to know, and who, to speak with the Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti, saves himself and reserves for himself a 'quiet corner.'
Collection A compiles the sources Selser used for his own research between 1938 and 2008, organized into 23 thematic sub-sections. In keeping with his wide range of interests and his relational approach to his subject matter, these themes include natural resources, cultural expressions, and intelligence services. Many of the documents are newspaper clippings, reports, and independent publications. They trace commitments and complicities, resistances and solidarities, suppressions and repressions across the Americas and, in some cases, across the Americas and Europe. Among them is a typescript of Gabriel García Márquez' lecture on Fantasy and Creativity and Latin America and the Caribbean, in which he defines the distinction between Fantasy and the Imagination, a collection of information on different aspects of the criminal economy (for example, on child trafficking) and, under the sub-section 'Secret Services', information on the collaboration between intelligence services in the Americas to repress and suppress dissent and opposition. Many of these documents refer to Operation Condor and complement those in Collection G . Among them is a collection of early press clippings, cables and independent reports on the detention, and eventual enforced disappearance and assassination, of three Argentine Montonero activists by Argentine and Peruvian armed forces in Peru, where Selser himself had taken refuge for a while. Among the three victims was Noemí Esther Gianotti de Molfino, whose body was found one month after her enforced disappearance in an apartment in Madrid, Spain, thus hinting at connections not only among the Latin American dictatorships but also, the implication of European governments.
Collection B comprises of documents from 1930 until 2009 referring to Selser's person. Some of these – outlines of classes and workshops he taught, overviews of his journalistic activities, public debates with other intellectuals on subjects such as the assassination of Sandino or elections in Nicaragua – are interesting insights into his pedagogy, into the history of journalism, into the political debates of the time, and into the cultures of political debate and disagreement. Others document the bureaucracy that the Argentinian exiles had to go through in Mexico, and others yet the wide network of acquaintances and friends of which Selser and Marta Ventura were part, and the intellectual and affective culture of these transnational, politically and ethically committed networks. Selser's final letters, including those written in the late stages of his terminal illness and one accepting responsibility for taking his own life, speak of his dealing with physical pain, with death, and of his desire to live and die with dignity.
Selser's academic and journalistic articles from 1945 until 1991 make up Collection C, together with the digitalization of the typed originals of his published and unpublished books, and his extensive notes and drafts.
Throughout the documents runs the spirit of Selser's obstinacy and his integrity. The CAMeNA now perseveres in his creation of ethical, committed, obstinate 'knowledges' and 'understandings'.
The research on which this post is based was funded by The Leverhulme Trust Fellowship on ‘Acquiescent Imaginaries: Snapshots from the Cultures of Low-Intensity Democracy ’.