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Title: Counter memories of the coup : British solidarity with Chile 1973-1998
Author: Hirsch, Shirin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 4590
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis is an exploration into the interrelation of memory, defeat, exile and solidarity. The work will investigate the moment of the Chilean coup and the process of remembrance which followed within Britain. The thesis will demonstrate that the Chilean coup deeply influenced sections of British society and has since been mourned by competing and alternative memories. It will be argued throughout this thesis that there is no fixed correlation between the definition of a particular event as catastrophic, the sustaining of that definition within memory, and the quantum of human suffering that is produced. Instead the memory of defeat was constructed in Britain through an active process of organised solidarity and exile politics. Principally this work is a study into the creation, contestation and preservation of a memory of Chile within British groups and networks of exiles from 1973 onwards. The research is centred on a series of interviews with Chilean exiles in Britain, both those who remained in Britain and those who had since returned to Chile. Using oral history to record the memories of an overlooked group of grassroots Chilean exiles, the research will critically engage with these compelling narratives, in contrast to the existing literature which focuses on more elite exile figures. Although some historians have pursued related goals, with two archival studies focusing on Chile Solidarity Campaign in Britain, and separate works providing oral histories of Chilean exiles, this thesis will bridge these separate works and will combine oral history with archival research. The thesis will examine the differing memories Chilean exiles in Britain possessed. The individual exile memories discussed in this thesis are then integrated into a broader history of solidarity and British political history. It is argued that these memories can only be understood within the space in which they are formed, exploring the new context of British society which exiles interacted with. The thesis will then investigate the British Left's more theoretical response to the Chilean coup and how alternative memories were constructed, a relationship which has been academically ignored until now. The work will also examine more practical responses to the coup through the Chile solidarity movement, investigating both the rise of human right politics and labour movement solidarity with Chile. The thesis will argue that these responses to Chile provided a terrain in which exiles in Britain could reflect and understand their experiences. The research will then investigate the process of return for exiles into a transformed country which refused to discuss the recent past. Exiles interviewed for this research described their return to Chile as a 'second exile' as their memories of the Chilean past clashed with those in Chile who had experienced the same events. Finally, the thesis will explore the arrest of Pinochet in Britain in 1998. While there is a great deal of legal research on this event, the research here will situate the arrest within a broader history of solidarity in Britain. The arrest is used as a window in which to further examine the British memorialisation of the Chilean past and its changing nature.
Supervisor: Morgan, Kevin; Brown, Laurence Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Chile ; exiles ; solidarity ; 1970s Britain.