Thesis (Ph.D)

Chilean Voluntary Repatriation, 1978-2002: How Voluntary, How Gendered and How Classed?


This evidence-based study is about Chilean voluntary repatriation as a political process rooted in the political history of Chile and in the wider context of the end of the Cold War. It considers the two main socio-political scenarios of the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990) and transitional democracy (1990-) but also brings the interim years of 1988-1990 to the fore. It focuses on the voluntary, class and gender dimensions of voluntary repatriation, arguing that decisions to return are not the product of individual choices or factors as argued in most of the literature, but influenced by a complex interplay of structures operating at the macro and micro levels. Chilean hegemonic institutions such as political parties, the Catholic Church and the family as well as patriotism along with class and gender shaped these decisions. Return discourses such as El Derecho a vivir en 10 patria, later replaced by Chile Somos Todos, were rooted in such matrix. In explaining voluntary repatriation, this study introduces a new concept to the field: the notion of returnism as a political narrative of nationhood and return-control mechanism that succesfully interwove both micro and macro levels in the exilio-retorno compression. A key finding is that the very hegemonic structures that were in place before and during exile were not only reproduced and strengthened during the dictatorship but were also used against it and termed here the like with like argument. Through the socio-political developments that took place both in Chile and exile, this study analyses the experiences of returnees. For this purpose, secondary concepts are introduced. The analysis explains why some returnees 'succeeded' and others 'failed' to find a place in Chilean society and shows paradoxically that voluntary repatriation was more sustainable under dictatorship. Overall, class and gender positioning are determinant in the 'end of the refugee cycle' .

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Lopez Zarzosa, H

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of History, Philosophy and Religion
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


Year: 2011

© Lopez Zarzosa, H
Published by Oxford Brookes University
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