Possible avenues of approach

Before I begin to list the subjects that I might want to write about, I wanted to reflect a bit about why the overarching theme seems to be activism related in some capacity to individuals from Latin America. This past summer I spent 2 1/2 months in Chile through Stanford’s BOSP, and I had the opportunity to learn about Chile’s more recent past, its entrance into dictatorship in 1973, and its return to democracy in 1990. Each transition seemed to be based on issues of the economy, and general zeitgeist in the country – but we must, too,  give weight to the psychological effects of activism in a country who, from at least in my experience, seems to value protest and activism at a level (at least among adolescents) that I haven’t experienced in the US thus far. Anyways, I’ll get started.

  1. The Chicano Movement in the United States. This movement, during the 1960s, had the goal of empowering Mexican Americans through a variety of methods, whether that be through increased opportunities to education or enfranchisement, or the address of negative ethnic stereotypes. I think that a study worthy of scholarly attention would be a cross-comparison of activism to fight negative ethnic stereotypes then versus today, especially in the rhetoric used by the political sphere.
  2. Movilizacion Estudantil (Student Mobilization) en Chile 2006, 2011, (maybe 2016). In Chile, there is an active consciousness regarding levels of economic inequality – this is something that permeates all aspects of life in which even the name your high school is required on your job applications. In other words, if education is a vehicle, then 45% of children and adolescents take the bus. The massive marches on the part of students are rather cyclical, happening about every 5-7 years. I would like to take a look at comparing the protests of 2006 and 2011 to see pertinent differences.
  3. “Jornadas de Protesta National” – In other words, “Days of National Protest” that occurred under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet during the 1980s, usually with a human rights aspect. I think that it would be interesting to analyze solidarity during this time as the protests seemed to become more frequent when some of the most fervent supporters of Pinochet, the middle class, began to experience economic hardship with the decline of copper prices worldwide (Copper is an important aspect to the Chilean economy even nowadays.)
  4. Mapuche people and social movement solidarity and linkage in Chile. The Mapuche are indigenous to Chile (and Argentina I believe), and experienced trouble under colonization. Today they face forms oppression from the government and private corporations, usually in regards to what they consider ancestral land and resource rights. There has been a form of solidarity between human rights activists, environmental activists, scholars, and other indigenous peoples. There would be an interesting study in which one could analyze possible substantiation of their demands from those who have allied with them.
  5. Latin America and Environmental Activism. Latin America seems to be the deadliest place for environmental activists, with hundreds of activists being killed (a number that seems to be increasing if we look at the data provided through sources such as Scientific American). Approximately 40% of the activists killed were indigenous. Their reasons, or causes were fights against hydroelectric, mining, and agrobusiness operations. There would be an interesting paper or presentation that could prescribe a normative argument for activists concerned with indigenous and/or environmental rights to join in force with these murders against a hegemony that seeks to destroy opposition from traditionally persecuted groups.

One thought on “Possible avenues of approach”

  1. I think Latin America offers a lot of cool diverse options for studying activism. I don’t think many people are familiar with activism in Latin America, so it might be interesting for the class to learn something new. The topics about the student protests Chile and environmental activism in Chile really caught my attention. I find it fascinating that the student protests happen on a cyclical basis, do you know if it happens organically or is some centralized organization? It also makes me wonder how the demands change during each protest and how the government chooses to respond to those demands. The deaths of people involved in environmental activism shocked me, and the intersection of the issue with indigenous rights seems like you would have a lot to discuss.


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