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Cultural Residues: Chile in Transition

Translated by Alan West-Durán
Theodore Quester
Foreword by Jean Franco
Volume: 18
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Cultural Residues
    Book Description:

    A portrait of postdictatorial Chile by one of that country’s most incisive cultural critics, Cultural Residues uses memoirs, photographs, art, and novels—the “residues” of a culture—to analyze the political-cultural Chilean landscape in the wake of Augusto Pinochet’s seventeen-year military rule. According to Nelly Richard, such residual areas reveal the flaws in Chile’s transition from violent dictatorship to electoral democracy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9189-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xvi)

    Nelly Richard is a critic and the founder-editor of theRevista de Crítica Cultural, a journal that, for more than a decade, has fostered incisive critical thinking. A Chilean citizen who was born in France and educated at the Sorbonne, she became well known for her judicious assessments of the art auctions that took place during the repressive government of Pinochet, a government that profoundly altered Chile’s political and cultural climate. Writing and researching usually without institutional support, she has since published a series of books,La insubordinación de los signos(1994),Masculine/femenino(1993), andResiduos y metáforas(1998), and...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    Aesthetics, culture, and politics: these are the lines of force—and desire—through which this book seeks to analyze certain zones of tension and conflict in Chile under the democratic transition process. These zones are more or less residual, pointing to unstable formations of symbolic and cultural deposits and sedimentations, where shredded meanings that for social reasons have been omitted or discarded come together. At times the book deals with discursive fragments judged insubstantial by the strong categorizations of discipline-driven knowledge; with details (forms, styles) considered superfluous and derivative in relation to the central predominance of content and representation; with...


    • CHAPTER ONE Cites/Sites of Violence: Convulsions of Sense and Official Routines
      (pp. 15-30)

      The consensual model of a “democracy of agreements” formulated by the Chilean government of the Transition (1989) marked a passage from politics as antagonism (the dramatization of conflict governed by a mechanism of confrontation under dictatorship) to a politics of transaction (the formula of a pact and its techniques of negotiation). The “democracy of agreements” made consensus its normative guarantee, its operational key, its de-ideologizing ideology, its institutionalized rite, and its discursive trophy.

      What overflows did the consensus try to limit, in attempting to force a unanimity of voices and conduct related to the formal and technical rationalization of the...

    • CHAPTER TWO Torments and Obscenities
      (pp. 31-46)

      Between memory and history, there is a difficult meshing of signs that deal with the critical operation of memory production. Woven into the diffuse folds of twisted meanings, this tangle of signs escapes from the principal narrative toward secondary narrations.

      What should be revisited from memory’s past so that critical thought can delineate a history sensitive to details or nooks and crannies? How to reveal the small incisions and dispersals of sense, the microtextures of lived histories where the most insidious symbols of violence filter through? Perhaps the unofficial fragments of the most entangled narratives are the ones we must...


    • CHAPTER THREE Neobaroque Debris: Scabs and Decorations
      (pp. 49-58)

      Modernity is expert at multiplying eviction notices against anything that disobeys the slogan of temporal rupture that “the new” uses to coldly dismiss the old and toss in the garbage whatever is left behind by the velocity of commodity production. However, “modernity sees growing all around it the uncomfortable proximity of wastes, the unexpected accumulation of objects in disuse and spirits without domestic utility who resist being cashiered and who threaten to burst into the present and redeem the memory of a captive temporality.”¹ Garbage, remains, leftovers, dregs: everything that shows signs of physical unusefulness or vital deterioration; everything that...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Congealment of the Pose and Urban Velocities
      (pp. 59-72)

      Ever since I became familiar with these photos collected over the years by Chilean artist Eugenio Dittborn,¹ they have been hovering around me, without my knowing whether they were so powerfully captivating because of the images themselves (the seriality of the bodies, the obsessional mark of an invariable repetition of manners and postures), or because of the obsessive decision to join all these images to create this unique collection of stereotypes and thereby satisfy a strange mania for systems.

      For years, I maintained a latent interest in these photographs, suddenly reactivated by the contrast of looks between past and present,...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Dismantlings of Identity, Perversions of Codes
      (pp. 73-82)

      Clothes, dress fashion codes, are one of the languages through which cultural identities are expressed in a dialogue of voices (canonical or parodic) with the already-constructed discourse of social classes and sexual representations. Cultural identities become aware of themselves when they select, among different bodily presentations in society, ways of dressing that speak of their roles, genders, and social positions, and display local lifestyles and customs that are now redesigned by multinational images from everywhere.

      The mass commercialization of used clothing during the past few years in Chile seems to have multiplied the confusions between what is national and imported,...


    • CHAPTER SIX The Academic Citation and Its Others
      (pp. 85-94)

      Knowledges, tacitly interlaced with structures of power through ramified intersections of meaning, are regulated by a policy of boundaries that delineate the borders of social recognition and the valorization of knowledge. The university machine is the dividing line between legitimate (authorized) knowledge and illegitimate knowledge. This machine protects the reserved realm of certified knowledge from the dangerous disorder of unregistered language that circulates outside the university enclosure with no guarantee of a known domicile.

      During the years of the dictatorship, there was a sharp division—engineered through several mechanisms of territorial segregation—between authorized knowledge and unauthorized knowledge. The rearticulation...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Antidiscipline, Transdiscipline, and the Redisciplining of Knowledge
      (pp. 95-106)

      Although still scanty and often precarious in their achievements, certain attempts to modify the rules that configure traditional knowledge are shaping themselves in the context of a contemporary reflection that critiques the academic model in postdictatorial Chilean universities.¹ These experiments that aim to decentralize the mechanisms of hierarchy and control of official understanding—pluralizing the forms and the styles of creating theory—speak of “oblique perspectives on inter- and multidisciplinary intersections, which serve as bridges between the academic and the sociocultural polyphony; of knowledges that are neither authorized nor consolidated, but instead open to the critical-creative errancy of the unstable...


    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Graphic Model of an Advertising Identity
      (pp. 109-118)

      Chile’s presentation at the Expo Sevilla ’92 indicated the nation’s first opportunity to shine internationally, an opportunity for the government of redemocratization to represent itself through a performance of identity that had the peculiarity of condensing—graphically—several of the official meanings connoted by Transition policies. In retrospect, Chile-Expo Sevilla ’92 is much more than a celebratory exhibition: it is the first practice of identity that the redemocratized Chile makes into a spectacle in order to give form and style to its “discourse of change.”

      There were many meanings that opened debate on themes of modernization in the Chilean Sevilla...

    • CHAPTER NINE Turbulence, Anachronism, and Degenerations
      (pp. 119-130)

      A conflict from the art world seized popular attention both in the press and on television during more than two weeks in August 1994; the pretext was the aesthetic transgression of a work that satirized for the first time the patriarchal ideologemes of Latin Americanist discourse in Chile. This debate—even if for mistaken reasons—took the arts out of the secondary role they ordinarily play in our cultural debate. It all started with an extravagant anecdote: the Venezuelan embassy complained to the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Relations about the mailing of reproductions of an image of Simón Bolívar portrayed...

    • CHAPTER TEN Gender, Values, and Difference(s)
      (pp. 131-142)

      In August 1995, the word “gender” polemically interrupted the national public debate centered on the Chilean Senate’s response to the official policies that the National Woman’s Service (SERNAM) would bring to the Fourth Beijing Conference. During that same month, the Department of Philosophy and Humanities of the University of Chile inaugurated its postgraduate degree in gender studies,¹ amid a tense discussion about academic politics, the state apparatus, privatization, and the autonomy of knowledge. This discussion occurred in the context of a neoliberal democracy that today subjects the university project to a menacing process of segmentation, technification, and commercialization of knowledge,...


    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Take the Sky by Assault: Political Transgression and Flight of Metaphors
      (pp. 145-158)

      The most insidious effect of the officialization of consensus effected by the discourse of the Transition could be the flexible revision of articulation and thought through common technologies of regularization and standardization of the social. This ordering of speech and thought controls both the tone of the voices, their registers and inflections, as well as the force of expressivity of inhibited subjects in their small or large desires for otherness. It was a discourse born under the festive slogan of diversity and plurality (the “rainbow” of the NO voters, who voted to end the Pinochet dictatorship in 1989) that later...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE For Love of Art: Critical Ruptures and Flights of Fancy
      (pp. 159-176)

      The Chilean postdictatorship orders its landscape without tensions by resorting to pragmatic coordinations of discourses that, while exalting the agreement between politics and the economy, functionalize the social and weaken, with their antinarrative of what is only reasonable and utilitarian, the strong sense—yearning and accusing—of the historical. Languages are standardized by the communicative pattern of technical-instrumental vocabularies and subjectivities normalized by the consensus’s operative mechanism, which disciplines the heterogeneous to make it fit passively into the mold of social integration. This homogenization has the de-emphasized traits that mark a postdictatorial landscape with neither accentuations of terms nor variations...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 177-208)
  12. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 209-210)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 211-211)