Old War, Nuanced Soldiers
‘Generational Borderlands’ in the Chilean University Movement
The infamous dictator Augusto Pinochet came to power through a bloody coup on September 11, 1973, and drastically changed the face of the Chilean government. His regime instituted strict policies of neoliberalism that led to the privatization of the university system. Forty years after the coup, many of these policies remain in place, untouched and accepted as the reasons behind Chile’s ‘economic miracle’ of South America. However, tensions resulting from these neoliberal policies, specifically in the University system, fomented a recent eruption of political activism in May of 2011. Why is it that Chile, one of the most economically ‘successful’ countries in South America and the ‘pride’ of the IMF and World Bank models, is seeing the rise of a powerful student movement against neoliberal legacies? My research juxtaposes the master narrative of Chile as a ‘model country’, in terms of hegemonic modernity, against the experiences of the Chilean university students who have fought to challenge it. I argue that the catalyst behind the student movement can be in part explained by the legacies of Pinochet’s repression and the political struggles of past generations. This contradictory temporal space forms a ‘generational borderland’. These generational ruptures, combined with the legacies of repression, have led to the emergence of new forms of innovative and marketable protest, cultivated longevity for the movement through the mistrust of politicians, and inspired a reinvigoration of the Communist Party of Chile.