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St. Michael's College

Publication Date

Spring 2008

Program Name

Chile: Culture, Development, and Social Justice


This work, completed during the month of May 2008, characterizes the experience of rural Aymara families and the experiences of their children, who migrate from their pueblos in the Andean high plains to the city of Arica in the first region of Chile for educational reasons. The study consists primarily of qualitative analysis of interviews with youth who currently reside in Arica while studying, their caretakers in the city, their mothers in the pueblos and directors of educational organizations in both Putre and Arica. Principally, the study seeks to understand the perceptions of the city held by rural youth, their adaptation to life in the city and life without their families, and the changes in their Aymara identity. Additionally, this paper briefly explores the work of NGOs and governmental organizations that make this migration possible by providing scholarships and their efforts to promote the importance of Aymara culture to these youth. Within the Aymara migrant youth community, this analysis compares the perceptions of all people involved in this change, from the family in the countryside, to the family in the city, and professor in the country to professors in the city. This work is important because it represents the reality of a relevant struggle of the Aymara people in this moment: the struggle to balance the importance of education with the importance of Aymara culture. The qualitative methodology is crucial in order to gain a holistic perspective of this issue.


Demography, Population, and Ecology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Latin American Studies


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