On May 5th, 2022, the Observatory on Latin America (OLA), the Schools of Public Engagement (SPE), and the School of Undergraduate Studies at The New School hosted the book launch of The Walls of Santiago: Social Revolution and Political Aesthetics in Contemporary Chile by Terri Gordon-Zolov and Eric Zolov.

Mary Watson, the Executive Dean of the SPE and Michael Cohen, Co-Director of the OLA introduced authors Terri Gordon-Zolov and Eric Zolov who while they were living in Santiago witnessed and documented the 2019 protests from their very beginning. The beautifully illustrated book contains over 150 photographs of street art taken during the events. The stunning murals and political graffiti tell the story of a new generation of Chileans willing and ready to fight for their democratic rights to a new, more equitable constitution to replace the one written under Pinochet’s dictatorship.

On 25 October 2019, sparked by an increase in metro fare price, over 1.2 million people took to the streets of Santiago to protest against social inequality, demanding President Piñera’s resignation, in what was called “The biggest march of Chile.” As a result of the uprising, Chile is now in the process of writing a new constitution, and previous student leader Gabriel Boric has been elected as president.

Marcial Godoy-Anativia, Managing Director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University; Julia Foulkes, Professor of History at The New School, and Nidhi Srinivas, Associate Professor of Management at The New School, provided insightful comments on what this means for Chile and in terms of democratic processes going forward in a global context where we can’t take democracy and equal rights for granted.

Ten colorful large-scale photo prints from the book were exposed during the book launch. For instance, there was a print of Matapalos, a black dog that became a symbol of the revolution, and another of president Allende wearing clothes featuring Mapuche art. Guests were also invited to engage with an interactive map of protest street art in Santiago, available in the electronic version of the book, where one could zoom in on the graffiti described in the different book’s chapters.

The day of the event was well-managed by OLA staff led by OLA Assistant Director Maria Carrizosa, OLA Program Associate Caroline Risacher (NSSR, Anthropology), and four student volunteers: Astrid Valenzuela, Kennedy McCutchen, Charlotte Slivka (MFA Creative Writing), and Dina Mulyani (GPIA).

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