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Colby College

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


The dialogue surrounding race in Chile tends to lack focus on the unique experiences and encounters with racism faced by afro-Chileans. Chile has seen an increase in this demographic in the past years, which clearly changes, and has changed, the racial make-up within Chilean society. With higher amounts of immigration to this country comes a greater amount of racial diversity, which will consequently change the current Chilean discourse on race. However, there currently appears to be a lack of dialogue and research on the experiences of individuals of African descent in Chile. A greater emphasis, however, surrounds the issues faced by indigenous populations or the problems with income disparity and socioeconomic class. This issue of the invisible experiences of people of African descent will become increasingly dangerous and violent as this demographic grows in Chile.

Therefore, this investigation seeks to understand the erasure and the invisibility of the experiences of people of African descent in Chile. It will focus on how the removal their identity is a form of racism and how this perpetuates the idea that Chilean society generally does not engage in acts of racial aggressions. With a combination of theory, historical readings, and interviews with professionals in the field, this study will analyze the mechanisms in which racism is continued by the people and the state. Further, it will investigate the consequences of these erasures and racially motivated actions on people of African descent in Chile and their steps to gain visibility.

This investigation concludes that the invisibility of the experiences of people of African descent in Chile is a systematic mechanism employed by the state and the people to position individuals of African descent hierarchically below them. It will determine that that the inability to recognize and label acts of racism perpetuates racial hierarchies, both in a subconscious and conscious manner. This form of denial allows the Chilean people and the state to remove themselves from the responsibility of dismantling racism, while additionally maintaining their privileged, racial position in society.


Community-Based Research | Ethnic Studies | Indigenous Studies | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Latina/o Studies | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology of Culture



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