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Conference focuses on Chile 40 years after coup

Conference graphic
September 23, 2013

Forty years after a coup put an end to a long tradition of democratic rule in Chile, a free conference Sept. 27-28 at Arizona State University’s West campus will examine Chilean literature, art, society and economics before and after the coup by critically reflecting on where the nation is positioned today in the Americas.

The conference, “Chile: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” kicks off at 7 p.m., Sept. 27, with a screening of the critically acclaimed film “No.” The daylong conference from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 28, will feature distinguished speakers from industry and academia. Events will be held in the Kiva Lecture Hall on ASU’s West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix.

The 2012 film “No” stars Gael Garcia Bernal and tells the remarkable story of the 1988 effort to oust Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet through a referendum. After the screening, Polly Hodge, a faculty member from Chapman University, will discuss the film’s socio-historical significance in her talk “When ‘No’ Means ‘Yes’!” Hodge will entertain questions from the audience.

The academic conference on Saturday begins with remarks from Harry M. (Red) Conger, president of the Americas division at Freeport-McMoRan. Conger is responsible for management of the company’s North and South America copper mining operations. This includes seven mining operations in North America and four in South America, with more than 13,000 employees and an annual copper production of 2.8 billion pounds.

The second session focuses on making the connection between U.S. Latino history and experience, as well as highlighting Chilean immigrants as they have traveled from South to North and North to South America. This session will be led by award-winning playwright and ASU professor Guillermo Reyes, who will speak about the Chileans in the United States through his own memoir, highlighting the cultural diversity of the Latino immigrant experience. Mario Rojas from Catholic University of America traces the popular Mexican-American legend Joaquin Murrieta and the changes in Murrieta’s story throughout time and across continents, concentrating on how it appeared in Chile.

Also, award-winning Chilean author Lucia Guerra-Cunningham, 2013 recipient of the prestigious Casa de las Americas prize in the category Indigenous Cultures, will speak about the Mapuche Conflict and the reorganization of communities for greater autonomy, recognition of rights and the recovery of land since the Chilean transition to democracy in Mapuche literature.

Additional topics throughout the day are photography (David William Foster from ASU's School of International Letters and Cultures), film (Cynthia Tompkins from ASU's School of International Letters and Cultures), university student protests (Alicia del Campo from California State University, Long Beach) and Chilean Nobel-prize winner Gabriela Mistral’s Motivos (Elizabeth Horan from ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences).

The conference culminates with award-winning writer and theorist Juan Villegas from the University of California, Irvine, who will speak about Chilean theater in the world today.

“Chile: Looking Back, Moving Forward” was organized by Claudia Villegas-Silva, a faculty member in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the core college on the West campus. The event is presented by New College, with support from the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies; the Hispanic Heritage Committee; and the Committee on Campus Inclusion.

All events are free and open to the public. RSVPs may be made to Lucy Berchini at