Memory, Activism and Social Justice TFDC 1.16
Jul 06, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230706T1100 20230706T1230 Europe/London 6.7. Contentious memory of the Estallido Social within the constitutional moment in Chile

2023 will mark the 50th anniversary of the military coup in Chile, making it essential to look towards the country from a mnemonic perspective. Chile experienced in 2019 a massive social uprising that brought forward a multitude of social demands and made visible the continuing importance of a wide array of events from the country's past, such as the transition to democracy, the dictatorship, the period of the Unidad Popular, the occupation of indigenous territories by the Chilean state and the Spanish colonization. This Estallido Social (Social Outburst) transformed into a paradigmatic moment for the circulation of different memories and gave rise to new memory activisms (Gutman 2017; Gutman and Wüstenberg 2021).In this panel we will analyze the work of these Chilean memory activists that through diverse channels, such as street art, performances, cinema, and monuments, showcased and superimposed uncomfortable, silenced, violent, and resisting aspects of Chilean history in the public space. These activists created memories of social mobilization itself: as a time of popular uprising that enabled encounter and revitalized public space. Simultaneously, as a time of violent police repression that resulted in the deaths of over 30 people and thousands injured. In particular, the demand for a new constitution to replace the still valid neoliberal Magna Carta of the military junta became clear.This period of mnemonic mobilization led to the initiation of a constitutional process that in 2020 was ratified through a national plebiscite, where close to 80 percent of voters were in favor of starting the process. A constitutional convention was subsequently created and throughout a year its delegates drafted a constitutional proposal. On the 4th of september 2022 a new plebis ...

TFDC 1.16 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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2023 will mark the 50th anniversary of the military coup in Chile, making it essential to look towards the country from a mnemonic perspective. Chile experienced in 2019 a massive social uprising that brought forward a multitude of social demands and made visible the continuing importance of a wide array of events from the country's past, such as the transition to democracy, the dictatorship, the period of the Unidad Popular, the occupation of indigenous territories by the Chilean state and the Spanish colonization. This Estallido Social (Social Outburst) transformed into a paradigmatic moment for the circulation of different memories and gave rise to new memory activisms (Gutman 2017; Gutman and Wüstenberg 2021).

In this panel we will analyze the work of these Chilean memory activists that through diverse channels, such as street art, performances, cinema, and monuments, showcased and superimposed uncomfortable, silenced, violent, and resisting aspects of Chilean history in the public space. These activists created memories of social mobilization itself: as a time of popular uprising that enabled encounter and revitalized public space. Simultaneously, as a time of violent police repression that resulted in the deaths of over 30 people and thousands injured. In particular, the demand for a new constitution to replace the still valid neoliberal Magna Carta of the military junta became clear.

This period of mnemonic mobilization led to the initiation of a constitutional process that in 2020 was ratified through a national plebiscite, where close to 80 percent of voters were in favor of starting the process. A constitutional convention was subsequently created and throughout a year its delegates drafted a constitutional proposal. On the 4th of september 2022 a new plebiscite was held, where Chileans could either approve or reject the finished proposal. Here 62 percent of voters rejected the convention's proposal, prolonging the constitutional process, wherein the norms, rights and duties of democratic coexistence in Chile are profoundly discussed.

During this process the memories of the social uprising and its activists have played a central role, transmitting the importance of this period to the social and public sphere, highlighting the demands and confrontations that this moment of political upheaval revolved around. These memories, even though they have generated controversies and met opposition from the conservative world that have tried to diminish their importance, simplifying the mobilization as a period of violence and vandalism, continue to be key memories in the democratic dialogue that sets the future course for Chile.
In this panel, through the Chilean case, we will explore the political possibilities of acts of memory activism in periods of social change and turmoil. Our focus will primarily be on visual forms of intervention in public memory, the construction of memories of joy and hope, as opposed to traumatic ones (Rigney 2018; 2021; Sindbæk Andersen and Ortner 2019), and the resignification of urban spaces that we will approach from international perspectives and different disciplines.



Hannah K. Grimmer

With October in our Memory, we will change History

Art of various genres plays an essential role for social movements, especially in the Southern Cone of Latin America where artists, activists, and academics have joined forces. By uniting different struggles, activists manage to make radical demands and still be a mass movement (Gago 2020).
In the Chilean case, an evolution of the connection between the areas of social movements and art can be observed: During the time of Salvador Allende (1970-73), visual artists supported this political project mainly through painting, posters and murals. Under the civil-military dictatorship (1973-90), artists had to develop conceptual methods to avoid being censored, they carried out their work at great risk or went into exile. After the return to democracy (1990), the movements of pupils (2006), students (2011), feminists (2018), and the revolt of 2019 were important milestones that allowed the development and amplification of art and its relevance in the public sphere. Therefore it is the post-dictatorship generation that actively succeeds in changing public memory (Badilla Rajevic 2019) by acting as memory activists (Gutman/Wüstenberg 2021) or memory entrepreneurs (Jelin 2012). They create new mnemonic communities.
Based on the social revolt starting in October 2019, I want to analyze the "new" artists that entered the streets with clear political messages, reformulating and bringing together symbols and demands of previous struggles and generations. Despite the proximity in time to the "Estallido" of October 2019, the artists are already developing mnemonic forms of it. These overlap with memories of the 60s and 70s with their social utopias as well as with the resistance movements against the dictatorship from the 80s. Underlying the struggles is an aspiration to bring about fundamental change that requires remembering moments of hope (Rigney) like it is October 2019. Guiding questions will be: What events, social structures and demands from the past do artists revive and recontextualise? Which imaginary do they develop? In what ways do they act as memory activists/entrepreneurs?


Alexander Ulrich Thygesen

Contested Activist Memorials in the Wake of the Estallido Social: The Case of the Jardín de la Resistencia in Santiago de Chile.

The Estallido Social served as a catalyst for the demonumentalisation of hundreds of statues and monuments all across Chile during the months of the mobilisation (Badilla and Aguilera 2021). This iconoclastic dimension of the uprising facilitated a shift in how the country's recent and distant pasts were remembered in the public space. As public monuments promoting the hegemonic narrative of Chilean history were toppled, replaced, or otherwise altered in the capital of Santiago, alternative memorials appeared, through the collective action of activists, that amplified and diversified the memory discourses present in the cityscape.
In this paper I will explore how these activist memorials fed into a mnemonic regime change (Rigney 2022) in conjunction with the practice of demonumentalisation, shedding light on the types of memories evoked at and through this reappropriation of public space that is contended by both official actors and groups of counter-activists.
The analysis, primarily based on fieldwork conducted in Santiago, will revolve around the case of the Jardín de la Resistencia (The Garden of Resistance), a "guerrilla gardening" intervention on the central Plaza Dignidad, a highly symbolic urban space in Santiago. Here a destroyed metro station entrance has been converted into a space of commemoration dedicated to activists killed during the Estallido Social that simultaneously serves as a public venue for a vast range of community organized events, such as concerts, performances, panel debates, poem readings, meetings etc. Interpreting the site as a product of and a platform for memory activism (Gutman 2017; Gutman and Wüstenberg 2021) I will argue, among other things, that the Jardín de la Resistencia, as an activist memorial, provides continuity to the social demands of the Estallido Social during the ongoing historic constitutional process in Chile. It does this through a remembrance of violence committed against activists that escapes the template of victimhood and rather share similarities with the model of civic martyrdom (Rigney 2020).


Manuela Badilla Rajevic

The Chilean Counter-monument Movement: Unmaking the National Event in times of Imagining the Nation

On October 18, 2019, one of the most massive social mobilisations in the history of Chile began, transforming the country's political scene. At the same time, this social outbreak triggered the questioning, intervention, creation and in some cases destruction of more than 64% of public monuments in Chile. Mnemonic activists behind this phenomenon, that I defined as a counter-monument movement, set in the public space and in an accelerated way complex questions regarding the ubiquitous and homogeneous presence of the National event ¿Whose memories are represented in public space? Who have decided and created these representations? Which memories are absent in these public monuments? These questions are even more urgent considering that Chilean society has engaged in a constitutional process as a result of the demands of the recent social outbreak, a process that implies thinking and assessing the principles behind the very idea of a nation.
Based on a three years qualitative research project that includes 48 interviews with people who participated in the 2019-2020 Chilean protests, and archival work that considers historical documents and press reports of the intervened monuments, this article argues that the wave of counter-monuments expose some of the tensions and omissions of what today constitutes the National event. Counter-monument activists have mobilized different strands of long-term and difficult national and colonial memories by using three main tactics: the ephemerality of their actions, the joyful and creative character of the interventions, and finally the occupation of the public and virtual space. The article contends that these tactics have the potential of pausing the flow and form of the nation, and as result, of providing a particular temporality to imagine an alternative and more plural society.

PhD Student
,
Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien & Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/Main
PhD Student
,
Aarhus University
Assistant Professor
,
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
PhD (c)
,
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
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