Saturday, October 27, 2012

I presented some of my research from my trip to Chile called "Art, Media and Human Rights in Chile" at the Globalizing Education conference in IL.  Check it out here if you are interested!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

7/30-  Murals and Graffiti

Valparaiso: Art as a Political Landscape: Valparaiso: Art as a Political Landscape: 2012:

Valparaiso: Art as a Political Landscape: Valparaiso: Art as a Political Landscape: 2012:

I couldn’t help but notice that throughout the entirety of our trip, we kept on seeing walls upon walls of creative graffiti art that was very politically oriented.  They were most present in Santiago and Valparaiso, but were also evident in La Isla Negra and Pomaire.  From the tours that we took through the homes of Pablo Neruda, the famous poet, writer and artist, I gathered that as a member of the Communist party, he was very politically active.  It was mentioned that he was going to run for president at the same time as Salvador Allende, however, it was decided that it would be more efficient for the Communist party to align and support the Socialist Party so that Allende could become president.  This was the most efficient way to get a left leaning party member into office at that time so Neruda gave up his bid.  Pablo Neruda is evidence that artists were incredibly influential in the fervent political climate of Chile, otherwise, the military dictatorship would not have made such an effort to throw him into exile.  They also realized the power of such a medium to swing public opinion and political sentiment.  It is because of the work of Neruda and other artists that the world is able to view the historical timeline of Chile and see the emotional upheaval of the citizens.  Through film, murals, graffiti, old journalism pieces etc., we are able to put together a telling history of the Chilean story.

Many of the topics on this trip have me intrigued.  How do we rectify years of neo-liberal agenda in the political realm and undo the mistakes of the past?  Do the benefits of market pressures and competition offset the negatives of the system in educational contexts?  Perhaps Chile would be in a worse off state than now if these agendas had not been followed.  People tend to criticize what has been done and find the negative ramifications, however, we must not discount the benefits out of bias.  There are more schools than there were before to help alleviate some of the gaps that previously loomed.  Even though public education is seen as subpar and society is stratified by socio-economic status, at least the facilities exist to improve for the future.  Many places in the world don’t even have that.

It is clear that many questions have been raised by the topics addressed in this study tour and that more research needs to be done in order to understand them comprehensively. 

References for Material in this Blog

Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program. (2005). Global competence and national needs: Recommendations: Breaking the one-million-student barrier. (). Washington, DC: Lincoln Commission.
Bellei, C. (2005). The private-public school controversy: The case of chile. Harvard Graduate School of Education,
Chovanec, D., & Benitez, A. (2008). The penguin revolution in chile: Exploring intergenerational learning in social movements. Journal of Contemporary Issues in Education, 3(1), 39-57.
Frizzelle, C. (2010, May 7, 2010). 180 degrees south: Lindy, do I really have to review this movie? SLOG News and Arts, , 1.
IMDb. (2012). 180 degrees south. Retrieved 7/1, 2012, from
Larraín, C. (2012). Cinema in chile
Lawrence, R. (2010). In Lawrence R. (Ed.), Insight guide: Chile and easter island (5th ed.). London, England: APA Publications.
Pena, M. (2012). The penguins' revolution (Lecture ed.)
Spencer Global. (2012). The portal to all southern chile. Retrieved 7/25, 2012, from
Wikipedia. (2012). 180 degrees south: Conquerors of the useless. Retrieved 7/5, 2012, from

Valparaiso: Art as a Political Landscape: Valparaiso: Art as a Political Landscape: 2012:

Valparaiso: Art as a Political Landscape: Valparaiso: Art as a Political Landscape: 2012:

7/29-  Weekend Reflections on Art and Politics in Chile

Art as the political landscape in Santiago: Art as the political landscape in Santiago: 2012

Art as the political landscape in Santiago: Art as the political landscape in Santiago: 2012

7/29-  Weekend Reflections on Art and Politics in Chile

Our first weekend we took a bus with our entire class to Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar where we had a lovely lunch of fresh seafood and took in the views of the city.  The thing that struck me most about Valparaiso in particular was the color of the city!  The buildings were all painted vibrant colors that were a nice contrast to the grey of the cloudy sky.  It is a port city and used to be much busier- you can tell because it is fairly developed and there is a fine layer of sand and dust that blankets most things.  Perhaps it is smog?  They had very interesting architecture that was accentuated by historical landmarks- for instance, the building that Pinochet had erected when he moved government offices from Santiago to Valparaiso.  While cheerful and innocuous, the city has seen some turmoil, particularly during the military regime.

In Santiago and La Isla Negra, the vibe was quit different.  We visited Pablo Neruda’s home and there were so many things I loved about it.  I like the way Neruda built his home in sections- they were separate sections connected by gardens and pathways that each had their own purpose.  I like that because it seems very functional in that if you are having a certain type of day, you can walk to another area of your home- another wing- and get into a new rhythm more effectively than merely walking to another room of your house.  I love that I got to see both of his homes- one in La Isla Negra where he is buried with Matilda and the other one that was almost burned down in Santiago during the military coup of 1973.  His poetry has affected me so deeply in life that I would have come to Chile just to visit his home.

On our last day in Santiago, we went to see Pablo Neruda’s house - it was so nice but not nearly as amazing as the Isla Negra home where he is buried.  The tomb was so beautiful where he was buried with his 3rd wife, Matilda- with wild hair.  Apparently his 2nd wife was 20 years older than him and he had Matilda as his mistress.  He built his home in Santiago for Matilda and has multiple paintings and pieces of art dedicated to her such as window dressings in metal.  This is another example of how creative artifacts can serve to weave together a colorful story of the past.

7/27-  Cinema in Chile: Media, Film and Visual Effects
Carolina Larraín
Institute of Communication & Image
Universidad de Chile

One of the presentations that stood out to me over the past couple of weeks was on Chilean Cinema.  There was so much that Carolina brought up that it was difficult to write about and do her presentation proper justice.  I do know however that her lecture brought to life the importance of art in political discourse.  The media has been run by the elite in Chile for many years and many believe that democracy has been betrayed by these institutions.  From biased journalism to lack of transparency, citizens generally do not trust the journalists to be neutral.  Therefore, people turn to artists to be the real media and politicians. For instance, in Valparaiso, there is a place called Quinto Normal that acts as an outdoor museum where artists can share their work and political views for free.

Another interesting fact is that in the 1930’s, films with sound were introduced to Chile.  This had the surprising effect of limiting the audience that could understand the language of the films and therefore shrunk the audience considerably.  The film industry has always struggled in Chile, according to Carolina, to the point where it has stayed relatively small.  A small group of film stars has made it through to be significant actors in the news and political discourse however.  The World Cup of 1962 increased the number of viewers because many families bought televisions for the event.  In the 1960’s, the first film schools opened and mostly the elites could afford to attend.  There was a documentary boom about topics of social justice and other political issues.  These prove essential to our understanding of the military coup of 1973, once they were recovered from other countries that finally returned them after the military regime was no longer in power. 

The main way to watch films from the 1950’s to 1973 was in the theater where they would show the film and have discussions afterwards.  Many of these films were politically charged and carried strong messages.  Commercial film crept onto the scene and new cinemas developed.  The film industry has been able to expand at a rapid rate in recent years due to the ubiquity of online distribution and less expensive means of production.  Chilean films have increasingly been found in more and more film festivals globally and the satirical/parody genres addressing social issues have become popular.

Chile seems to have always been politically aware and active.  Films seem to have captured this sentiment in it’s many forms throughout the years and pushed people to be aware of their surroundings.  Film is a powerful tool to mobilize and inform masses about social issues and Chilean films have demonstrated this power.
7/26-  The Penguin Revolution and Student Movements
Macarena Pena y Lillo
Author "El Mayo de los Pinguinos"
MA in Communication (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

We learned from Macarena’s presentation that the Penguin Revolution in 2006 was a student movement created by students, for students.  Along with the information from Donna M. Chovanec’s paper on The Penguin Revolution in Chile: Exploring Intergenerational Learning in Social Movements (2008), our class gathered that many of the student protests were for logistical improvements in the beginning.  Only after they had protested for a while did ideological demands begin to surface and become a part of the public discourse over the inadequate educational system.  Students were frustrated by LOCE, the laws that governed the educational system that were set in place directly before Pinochet left office.  The students wanted this revoked and replaced with a set of laws that would help students of all socio-economic backgrounds succeed in school, despite the huge financial burden that it requires in the current form.  The students occupied many schools for weeks on end and organized their demands.  They utilized the media, government and citizens to help them make their demands public discourse.  Michelle Bachelet eventually agreed to hear them out, open a round table discussion with a few key students present to talk about their issues.  The students were not happy with this proposal and declined.  Eventually the protests died down because students wanted to get back to their academic responsibilities, they were tired and little had been accomplished ideologically- though certain logistical concessions were made to them, such as reduced transportation fare. 

The media was a salient part of the visibility of this movement.  In the beginning, they treated the students as a nuisance and didn’t take them seriously.  However, as time went on, the media began to pick up on the seriousness of the students and began to listen when they spoke.  They wrote articles about their position, about the individuals involved and the fantastic organization that was occurring. 

There were a few significant events that took place that were landmark moments in the movement.  The first one was Lota on April 1st.  The students had classes on the streets and called the TV to show it.  This demonstration was not initially connected to the Penguin Revolution but eventually they came together.  The next one was Instituto Nacional- the students occupied the schools and created Fotologs on the Internet to share and communicate information.  The Fotologs were important to the students and were visited 200,000 or more times per day. 

The third event was the Colegio Altamira- where the private and exclusive schools joined the movement.  This was interesting because the privileged students didn’t have anything to complain about personally since they could afford the best schools.  However, they wanted to show solidarity with the other students that were not able to afford such a privileged education.  This was a significant milestone for the movement because it made the movement cover a broad spectrum of students instead of just the underserved. 

In conclusion, Macarena Pena found that the students felt powerless by the end.  They had fears of losing that school year and decided to stop.  However, this movement set the tone for future movements in 2011 with university students and helped spur government reform.  This movement acted as a catalyst for educational change in Chile and is an important lesson for other students to stand up for social change when it is needed. 

The visual and video footage of the Penguin Revolution stand out to me as salient pieces of this movement.  Because audiences were able to visually connect with the students, their message was carried further to reach the president.  Because there were audio and written words to challenge readers to empathize with the problems in the educational system, they were taken seriously and were listened to.  Creative and journalistic portrayals of events can have an impressive impact on public opinion, and therefore instigate politicians to act accordingly.  
7/24-  Public Education in Chile
Visit Peñalolen Lecture: Public Education in Chile
Ricardo Batarce

Today we had people from a public school district talk to us about their educational approaches- they were the superintendents, principles etc. They then they took us to the actual schools, K-12 in one public school. We saw a really nice school and it was directly across the street from a private school that was competing for students.  The students that we met sang us two songs- our group went to see the high school side of the school and the other group went to the younger students.  When we asked to see their library, they took us to see it and the library was a one room small section of the school that had few books and a bunch of tables.  Despite it being small according to North American standards, they mentioned that it was one of the best and they were very proud of it.  It was very sobering to see how tight the resources were for these students.  Will they grow up able to actively participate in global exchanges with the Net Generation?  Is this one of the side effects of the neo- liberal policies that directed educational development over the past 20 years?  

This was a very touching experience and this video that I took speaks for itself as far as I'm concerned:

7/22-  Los Andes
For our day off we went to the Andes Mountains in de maipo to visit the glacier (a glacier) and we hiked up to see it.  Brilliant really- we rented a van and then hitchhiked the rest of the way up where the van couldn’t go.  It was amazing and the snow was lovely and we saw a rainbow at the largest waterfall.  7 people stuffed into the back of a pickup truck with open views of the glacier and mountain peeks was probably the highlight of the trip thus far. I often wondered if the political climate affected the residents in the mountains since they seemed so far removed from the issues of neo-liberalism and politics.  Do they still deem it necessary to be active members of various political parties and vote?

Los Andes, Chile (Sasha Harrison, 2012)