For my PHD-project I study life history narratives of children of political refugees from mainly Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. To briefly sum up my project… My research project involves dealing with legitimacy of narratives within the discourse of South American post-dictatorship, in which the children of the political exiles remain silence and shut off from the general narratives of oppression during the Military regimes of 1973-1990. This project crystallized itself during the fall of last year when I went to Chile for some initial field work.
Although more than 20 years of democracy in Chile, there is still an ongoing silence regarding the dictatorship years. These silences operates on several levels. First of all, there is a general attitude in the Chilean society of not to speak about the dictatorship, with reference to not dwelling in the past, but looking forward to the future. The second layer is who is allowed to tell their stories and talk about their experiences. People that have lived through torture and imprisonment are given the legitimacy to talk, but on fairly secluded channels, such as memory sites. The third layer of silence is in the families. The dictatorship years gave rise to political differentiation within extended families, but since democracy, families are expected to have overcome their conflicts. Also within the families that for instance went through exile there is a conspiracy of silence. Some things are simply to painful to talk about. The generation that grew up under the dictatorship and post-dictatorship are thus caught in a void without a voice.