Reckoning with Pinochet: The Memory Question, Human Rights, and the Making of Politics and Culture in Democratic Chile, 1989-2005


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project focuses on "memory struggles" related to the violent dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). It studies how Chileans reckoned with the Pinochet legacy after the turn toward a reborn yet constrained democracy in 1989-1990. It replaces the memory-against-forgetting paradigm with one of competing memory frameworks, each selective, interpretive, and promoted by social actors seeking to shape politics and culture. The study thereby sheds original light on the paradox of democratic transitions after times of atrocity. Impasse on how to remember the Pinochet era, rooted in a conflict between "soft" and "hard" power, yielded great frustration, yet did not block the slow building of a political culture that valued human rights and eroded military self-amnesty.