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Chile Revolts: From the Uprisings to the Constitutional Process


It is a warm, austral spring Monday in the Capital of Chile. Metro stations are tingling with students and workers ready to encapsulate themselves in underground trains to commute as usual. The ticket fee has just been raised by 30 pesos. A group of young people decide to protest evading the fare. Placing their hands on the turnstile columns, one by one, they leap over the metal bar. This small gesture of disobedience spreads and intensifies with tremendous speed. On October 18, 2019, the government orders to close the entire Santiago subway. It is the day designated as the incipit of the estallido social, the Chilean social outbreak. This modest pretext is the fuse that set off a far-reaching revolt, so strong that it led the country to start a new constitutional process. Through an ethnography of the insurgence, Clelia Bartoli brings to light reasons, issues and forms of the Chilean awakening: the unfulfilled promises of post-dictatorship democracy; the perduring effects of the Chicago boys’ neoliberal experiment; the uprising of a protest without leaders and headquarter that disorients the harsh State repression; indigenous peoples’ cosmovision and struggle; the globalization of the Chilean feminist movement; the process of popular self-education induced by the uprising; the pitfalls of the constituted powers aimed to patronize and mitigate the constitutional urge claimed by the grassroots. The author, a direct witness to the events, recounts what unfolds before her eyes through a hybrid genre of writing: the narrative essay. Trying to penetrate the epistemic and emotional process that challenges the status quo and open up the possible, she tells and analyzes the scuffles in the streets and the inner turmoil of those who watch the wavering of known reality. Ultimately, this book is about that angry and happy, chaotic and generative time of crisis in a legal-political order. A chaotic and generative phase: promising as it is often disappointing.