Tag Archives: Chile

Chilean Popular Poetry and Biblical Psalms

Martinez, Chile, Santiago Figueroa

Santiago Figueroa. Folklorist, researcher and expert in popular music.

by Fernanda Martinez Varela, MA scholar at MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish. 

Shortly after arriving in Chile, I went to the public library of Doñihue in order to search for bibliographic material and, fortunately, there I met Santiago Figueroa Torres; a folklorist, researcher and expert in popular music. Talking informally while drinking coffee, I explained to him my thoughts about this investigation and he gave me his vision as an expert on the subject. Consequently, aided by this chance, his insights have served me as a guide for reading the bibliographic material found and redefining my research question.

What similarities exist between the Cantus to the divine cultivated in Chile and the Christian psalms in the Latin American version of the Catholic Bible? This is the question the present research will try to answer. For this purpose, in addition to ponder on some similarities, I will analyze and contrast two songs by the Chilean musician Violeta Parra (Maldigo del alto cielo and Volver a los 17) with the psalms 143 and 148.

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Exploring the Yareta of Northern Chile Through the Archives

Posted by Amanda Lotspike – MA Candidate at CLACS

To write a story of the yareta is to start from its partial absence in the Chilean altiplano. It’s a hard thing to do. The yareta demands attention; it grows “like a tortoise—big and green”[1], a plant with almost animate qualities despite its resolute grounding in the Andean volcanic belt. Thriving at altitudes of twelve to fifteen-thousand feet above sea level, the yareta is more than a single cushion shrub. Hundreds of tightly wound, waxy succulent leaves make up the flat surface area of its circular outcroppings—bulbous growths that take on the appearance of carpet moss from far away. At eye level, a heavy resin (yaretawaqa or “tears” of the yareta) smudges its bright green surface, while dried yellow flowers collect in small pockets where the slopes of the yareta rise and fall.

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The yareta, photo taken by author.

 

This summer I’ve set out to learn of and from the history of the yareta (its abundant growth, extraction and decline) in the Norte Grande of Chile. From stories of the “king” of the yareta (a Bolivian entrepreneur who led commercial exploitation of the species during the mid-twentieth century Chilean mining boom) to its representation in the writings of award-winning poet Miguel Urrelo Valdivia, I have explored the ways in which the yareta exists beyond its material presence (as a poetic imaginary, an heirloom, a divine resource and finally, a warning call).

In this series of blog posts I will highlight a few of these stories. First stop: the library at the National Service for Geology and Mining and the National Archive of Chile.
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‘Proximities/Distances’: Theatre, Performance, and Dance Conference

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Creators and performers from all over Latin America and Spain will converge at the King Juan Carlos Center (KJCC) next week for ‘Proximities/Distances’, a two-day event that will explore ideas and practices of proximity and distance in contemporary Spanish and Latin American theatre, performance and dance.

Drawing on the current interest in relational strategies and investigating the connections between art and audiences, the aesthetic and the socio-political, it will examine a diverse range of dramaturgies that bring these different media into contact.

The event is curated by Cristina Colmena (PhD Candidate, NYU Spanish Department) and Ana Sánchez Acevedo (PhD Candidate, CUNY Graduate Center). Participants will include La Phármaco (Spain), MAPA Teatro (Colombia), Íntegro (Peru), Claudio Tolcachir (Argentina), Daniel Salguero (Colombia), Pablo Remón (Spain), Alejandro Moreno (Chile), Arantxa Araujo (Mexico), David Espinosa (Spain), and more.

Please join us Tuesday, September 27 and Wednesday, September 28 at the KJCC Auditorium for this wonderful gathering of Latin American and Spanish creators and performers!

CLACS Welcomes Chilean Author José Ignacio Valenzuela in First U.S. Book Tour Presenting ‘Trilogía del Malamor y Malaluna’

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The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) in collaboration with the Embassy of Chile proudly invites you to join author José Ignacio Valenzuela in his first U.S. tour presenting Trilogy Malamor and its prequel Malaluna on Monday, September 26th at the KJCC Auditorium.

Trilogía del Malamor is a wildly successful trilogy by José Ignacio Valenzuela and is considered the first fantasy series of Latin America. Composed of the books “Hasta el fin del mundo”, “La raíz del mal” and “El árbol de la vida,” this wonderful series full of adventure, romance, enigmas and suspense delights and surprises readers with endearing characters and an unexpected ending. Set in the small mysterious town of Almahue, meaning “place of phantoms” in the Mapuche language, at the edge of the cold sea of Patagonia, it is a place where magic and fantasy abounds and where the desire to love can kill.

Malaluna is a prequel to the series released at the end of last year. Since its release it has captivated fans and new readers by recounting the previous and unknown story of the characters that give life to the Malamor saga. Valenzuela recently sold the film rights to the trilogy, so a film version of this magical story is pending.

José Ignacio Valenzuela has a vast career as an author and screenwriter for film and television in Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States. He has published a number of novels and short fiction, and has also served as professor and instructor of creative writing.

CLACS has also invited Ángeles Donoso Macaya, Associate Professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College and expert in contemporary Latin American literature, and Chilean author Carlos Labbé. The panelists will discuss the writing of the trilogy, its reception in Latin America, the upcoming films, and more generally, the development of contemporary young adult literature in the region.

The books of the Malamor trilogy will be on sale at the event. The event will be held in Spanish and it is free and open to the public.

Please join CLACS and the Embassy of Chile in celebrating Chilean literature and José Ignacio Valenzuela’s work by joining us on September 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the KJCC Auditorium.

 

Welcome Back and Upcoming CLACS Events

CLACS - Washington Square Park

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at NYU would like to welcome back our students and faculty and wishes all our followers a happy Fall!

We kicked off the semester by enthusiastically welcoming our newest MA students at orientation. We are excited to have such a dynamic group begin a new academic year.

We would like to usher in the new semester with an amazing set of events at our center. Some of the events we have planned for the Fall include a talk with Peruvian activist Verónika Mendoza about the challenges of the Left in the new Latin American scenario; a POETEA showcase to celebrate Quechua & Kreyòl  with a night of poetry and tea; a panel presentation of the book “Kalman Silvert: Engaging Latin America, Building Democracy,” to celebrate CLACS’s founding director and the center’s 50th anniversary; and and a presentation of the Chilean fantasy series “Trilogía del Malamor.”

Stay tuned for CLACS events this fall by joining the CLACS email list, liking CLACS at NYU on Facebook, and following us on Twitter at @clacs_nyu!

On the Fringe of Memory: Discovering Paine

Posted by Anna Rappoport- MA Candidate at CLACS at NYU

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It is easy to interact with memory in Santiago- every neighborhood displays it proudly. From street art in Barrio Brasil and Barrio Yungay, to the polished, classically inspired architecture that surrounds La Moneda. However, public representations of memory regarding the events of September 11th, 1973 and the eighteen years of dictatorship that followed are often tucked away- representative of many Chileans “out of sight, out of mind” attitudes. Looking even further outside the capital- where the majority of atrocities under the dictatorship occurred- proved even more difficult.

Chile is one of the few Latin American countries that has actively supported sites of memory throughout the country, lending governmental and financial support for the creation of museums, memorials, preservation of sites of torture and detainment, and other public spaces that commemorate the gross human rights violations of the Pinochet regime. While many sites began through the preservation efforts of victims’ family members and survivors, the government has incorporated many into DIBAM (Directory of Libraries, Archives and Museums) or Chile’s National Patrimony. My project enabled me to travel to the Region Metropolitana to explore the numerous sites of memory around the region, and I particularly focused on the Museum of Memory and Human Rights and the Paine Memorial, located about 30 minutes south of Santiago.

Paine is a small agricultural town best known for their watermelons, however prior to the Agricultural Reform that occurred in 1972, struggled with the extreme inequality of the latifundio system. Aided by Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), some of Paine’s campesinos joined together to reclaim the lands they worked from the latifundio owners. When Pinochet took control of Chile in 1973, the latifundio owners and carabineros hunted down Paine’s campesinos, MIRistas, and sympathizers that took over the lands. 31 years after these unjust murders, the Paine Memorial was conceived.

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In Buenos Aires, Neoliberalism Is Performing Again

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The stencil on top depicts Jorge Rafael Videla, the head of the first military junta that overthrew Isabel Martínez de Perón in 1976 and initiated the neoliberalization of the country; Carlos Saúl Menem, elected president from 1989 to 1999, widely associated to neoliberal reforms; and current president Mauricio Macri, with the universal recycling symbol, as if they were -and they are!- part of the same  process. “Ni una menos” (“Not one less”) is a movement that combats violence against women.
by Ezequiel Zaidenwerg
PhD Candidate at the Spanish and Portuguese Department

July 21st 2016

I’ve been in Buenos Aires for two weeks now. I’m surprised at how much things seem to have changed since my last visit, about a year ago. Many small shops that I knew have closed: after recently elected President Macri devalued the local currency by over 60%, they can’t afford to pay the rent or the dramatically increased electricity and heating bills. For instance Aleksandr, a Russian immigrant taylor I used to take clothes I usually buy for peanuts at the Salvation Army in New York for alterations and repairs, has been priced out of his small work space in downtown Buenos Aires and I’m told he’s now moved deep into the Conurbano Bonaerense, the Capital’s sprawling, densely populated outskirts. Although neoliberalism never left -even with the Kirchners, who so ardently spoke against it- it now seems tremendously reinvigorated. To my dismay, a few days ago, the Secretary of Communications, Oscar Aguad, in a nonchalant way, invoked the infamous trickle-down economics to explain the need for further austerity measures in the energy sector.

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Ulises’ Odyssey, the Odyssey of Looking Back

Post by Juan Carlos Castillo, CLACS MA Candidate

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Forced by his governor’s megalomania, Ulysses had to abandon his land to fight the city of Troy. Thereafter, he spent 10 horrible years confronting the many monsters and storms that opposed his way home. But this was Homer’s story.

Ulises –not Ulysses– passed through something similar, through an 30-year odyssey away from home. His biggest monster: the lack of affection from his family. His strongest storm: his memories of a broken past, or perhaps, his notion of a broken Chile.

Ulises’ Odyssey is the story about the rupture of the Chilean society exemplified through the rift that happened in Ulises’ family. The story is narrated by Lorena Manríquez, who is Ulises’ niece and also the director of this feature documentary. On October 16, the film’s New York premiere was held as part of the Fall 2015 CineCLACS screenings’ roster, to a packed house of over 130 attendees at the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at NYU.  The event was followed by a conversation with the film’s directors Manríquez, and Miguel Picker.

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The State of Indigenous Peoples of Chile in Film and Conversation

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On December 3rd and 4th, CLACS will host “wüne adngen/la imagen antes de la imagen: A Showcase of Indigenous Films from Chile.” This one of a kind event, aims at promoting a discussion on the state of the past, present, and future of the indigenous peoples of Chile. It will feature six shorts, from fiction to documentary, and conversations with renowned Mapuche filmmaker Francisco Huichaqueo, and the Director of the new Indigenous Peoples Unit of the Cultural Council of the Ministry of Culture of Chile, José Ancan.

This event is co-sponsored with the Embassy of Chile, and Hemispheric Institute at NYU.

The days’ programs are the following:

Thursday, December 3rd (6:00pm – 9:00pm), will feature the following films:

San Juan, la noche más larga (2012)
Director: Claudia Huaiquimilla
Short (17 min.)
Language: Spanish/English Subtitles

Te Kuhane o Te Tupuna (el espíritu de los ancestros) (2015)
Director: Leonardo Pakarati
(63 mins)
Language: Spanish

ILWEN La Tierra Tiene Olor a Padre (2013)
(35 mins.)
Director: Francisco Huichaqueo
Language: Spanish/English Subtitles

A conversation with film director Francisco Huichaqueo, moderated by Amalia Cordova will follow the screenings. This conversation will be conducted in Spanish.

Friday, December 4th (1:00pm-5:00pm), will feature the following films:

NUTUAYIN MAPU
Director: Carlos Flores Pinedo
(10 mins.)
Language: Spanish

KALÜL TRAWÜN (2012)
Director: Francisco Huichaqueo
(24 mins.)
Language: Spanish

MAPU MEW (2015)
Director: Guido Brevis
Documentary
Short (50 mins.)
Language: Spanish

Chile’s Educational Reform

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President Bachelet’s government has taken the first steps to implement a much-needed reform in Chile. Nevertheless, its outcome is still unclear. This year will be crucial to determine the future of the policy, as the government enters the second stage of its Educational Reform. On Wednesday, March 4th those interested in the subject are invited to join the presentation “Confronting Inequality: A Critical Dialogue on Educational Reform in Chile” at NYU, sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Embassy of Chile.

On September 11th, 1973 Chile suffered the breakdown of its democratic system. President Salvador Allende and the government of the Popular Unity (Unidad Popular) were overthrown in a coup d’état that brought the rise of the military to power. The Military Junta was presided by General Augusto Pinochet and ruled the country in a highly repressive manner between 1973 and 1990.

The dictatorship pursued a radical break with the past by implementing neoliberal policies, which led to the overall transformation of Chilean society. Education is usually seen as a prime example of the process. The military oversaw an educational reform between 1981 and 1990 that replaced a state-centered educational model with a market-oriented system. This new arrangement would lead in time to the weakening of public education and the reproduction of the country’s existing socioeconomic inequalities.

Pinochet made sure that his policies wouldn’t be easily changed if he were to step down from Executive office. He did so by establishing high legislative quorums and introducing a unique electoral system (sistema electoral binominal) that gave a more or less even number of seats to the two most important political coalitions: the center-left Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia and the center-right Alianza por Chile. He embedded these rules deep inside the new Constitution of 1980, which was approved in a controversial plebiscite.

This was the institutional framework that Pinochet inherited to the Concertación governments (1990-2010). The setting clearly favored the political right by over representing their votes in the National Congress, turning them into key veto players that blocked –or converted to their liking– any possibility of reform. Thus, the Concertación was forced to play by the dictatorship’s rules, having to seek gradual reforms with an opposition that favored the status quo.

However, there was a growing discomfort with education in Chile. A series of protests began taking place in 2006 with thousands of secondary school students demanding the modification of Pinochet’s Organic Constitutional Law of Education (Ley Orgánica Constitucional de Enseñanza, LOCE). The protests proved to be effective. Socialist president Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010) ordered the formation of an executive committee –that included the most important actors concerned with education in the country–, whose objective was to draft a new educational law. The result was the General Law of Education (Ley General de Educación, LGE).

Many considered the Educational Reform of 2009 as being insufficient. Education was still highly stratified, while public schools continued displaying poor results in national and international tests. Meanwhile, higher education remained untouched, since the LGE had mainly focused on reforming the primary and secondary school levels.

In 2011 a new wave of student protests –this time at the university level– took over the country. They were the most massive protests to take place since the country’s transition from authoritarian rule. Students were demanding access to free, universal and high-quality education. They were also protesting for an end of profit-making in the educational system as a whole.

The government was reluctant to satisfy their demands. The center-right president Sebastián Piñera (2010-2014) granted some policies, but altogether missed the opportunity to find a solution for a problem that had dragged on for too long. At the same time, the student protests held a negative effect on Piñera’s government; his approval ratings fell to a historical low, while his coalition was shortly voted out of office.

The need of educational reform was one of the main issues present in the general election of 2013/2014. Michelle Bachelet made a series of campaign promises that fell in line with what students had been protesting for, such as free and universal coverage of higher education. Ms. Bachelet was voted back into office with strong electoral support and her coalition currently holds a majority of seats in both Houses of Congress, an important feature considering the high quorums needed for amending constitutional laws in Chile.

In 2014 Bachelet was successful in approving a Tax Reform. In 2015, the Senate approved the government’s electoral reform bill and after months of debate, approved the first part of the long awaited Educational Reform. This initiative put an end to profit in state-subsidized schools and to selective acceptance policies.

However, change has come at a high cost. The president has suffered from a fall in her approval ratings, while there has been an increase in political polarization (some opposition officials have even threatened to dismantle her reform as soon as possible). Many voices –from within and outside her coalition– have questioned if there is enough money to fund the Educational Reform or whether the setting is appropriate considering the current economic downturn stirring the country. It is expected that the Tax Reform will provide the funds for the second phase of the Educational Reform, which should focus on salary conditions, bringing public schools under national jurisdictions –as opposed to the current financing through municipalities–, and the much awaited free education for university students.

Posted by Lucas Perelló C., Applied Quantitative Research M.A. student at NYU