Ephemeral Histories: Erasure and the Persistence of Politics
The concluding chapter returns to the book’s different subjects, and studies how they took new shape in the early moments of the regime that toppled Allende and inaugurated a military dictatorship that ruled for close to two decades. It then turns to street photography as a case study for transformation and continuity in political practice and visual culture. It shows how photographers responded to political repression by fashioning a visual language that played upon the “objectivity” of the lens and the “transparency” of the image, fashioning an innovative genre of “creative testimony.” Street photographers ultimately turned images into the preeminent medium around which they could organize an active resistance movement. This perspective suggests that citizens responded to political violence by reimagining the tactics of political conflict they had developed in democracy into a rich visual and material culture of political resistance. In the absence of generalized armed conflict, ephemeral acts and visual culture became the most effective form of political engagement and resistance in Chile. They scrawled slogans and images on buildings, distributed leaflets, acted out fleeting forms of furtive political street theater, and crashed empty pots and pans as an ongoing form of aural protest. Developed in democracy but reimagined under dictatorship, these ephemeral practices were essential to the creation of clandestine networks of political association and organization after the coup.
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