Home Institution

Occidental College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


The role of the writer in a society is so important because, when the writing is meaningful and transcends the trivial day to day plot twists that so often distract us from what really matters, from our own personal truths and beliefs, it has the ability to explore the grey areas and fissures of our past, present, and future in order to make sense of the mind-boggling mess of human existence. We write in order to record and thus immortalize in some small way that which we see, hear, and wonder about. This project seeks to investigate the concept of the preservation of collective memory in the years following the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile by means of an analysis of 4 selected plays and novels that shed light on distinct individual experiences of the past 40 years. This investigation was conducted by synthesizing the views of three remarkable Chilean writers with analyses of four different texts published between the years of 1990 to 2013. Selected theoretical texts support this investigation.

The analyzed texts were chosen specifically because each narrative represents an acute point of view of Chilean society since 1973, allowing the reader to understand the complexity of the construction of collective memory in a country such as Chile and to become–to an extent–a witness to the past. The results of the paper are inconclusive in the same way that memory is inconclusive; it is a dynamic, deeply subjective conceptthat varies depending on the individual and their environment. The Chilean government has not made sufficient reparations to the victims of human rights violations and their families, and one of the few resources that exist to discuss and analyze the persistinganger, pain, and trauma is writing. The different narratives of these texts provide an outlet not only for the writer, but also for the reader, who can perhaps find a fragment of their own past within that story. Moreover, three out of the four texts have been translated to English and performed and distributed all over the world allowing for the Chilean experience to be understood on an international level.


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology