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Bowdoin College

Publication Date

Fall 2018

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


Today Chile prides itself on the success of its neoliberal economy and democracy. Yet, instances like the assassination of the Mapuche activist, Camilo Catrillanca, and the impassioned protests that have ensued, serve as constant reminders (to those who look for them) that the legacy of seventeen years of military dictatorship is hiding right beneath the surface of the modern ‘Miracle of Chile.’ This project seeks to unravel the loosely woven protective layer of Chilean democracy by investigating how the violence, trauma, and resistance that defined Pinochet’s dictatorship is alive in well amongst the children of victims and survivors of Chilean state terrorism. Some of these children are biological and many others are adoptive– that is to say that many young Chileans have developed a strong association with Chile’s violent and corrupt history despite their lack of familial connection and trauma. In this project I interview six Chileans, three sons of people tortured or exiled during the dictatorship and three people who have devoted their professional and artistic lives to memory activism. I use Marianne Hirsch’s (2012) concept of postmemory– the second generation’s relationship to the traumatic or powerful experiences of who came before them– to analyse how each subject has received, interpreted, and transmitted the memory of their family, community, or country. The final product of this investigation is a mini graphic novel that depicts transmission of memory, fragmented testimonies, trauma, contradiction, and resilience of the participants. The goal of this nontraditional study is to embrace the role of subjectivity both in memory formation and in social research. Ultimately I hope to contribute to the already powerful community of activists who fight every day to break the silence of the ‘Chilean Miracle’ and instil social and political change for the generations to come.


Civic and Community Engagement | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Latin American Studies


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