The Chilean Diaspora of London: Diasporic Social Scenes and the Spatial Politics of Home

Ramirez, Carolina. 2015. The Chilean Diaspora of London: Diasporic Social Scenes and the Spatial Politics of Home. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis traces the experience of home, migration and belonging of an intergenerational group of Chileans who have remained in the UK after being exiled by the Pinochet regime (1973-1990). The Chilean diaspora of London form one of the ‘new diasporas’ who are not straightforwardly connected to The UK’s imperial past but to its contemporary history. This case offers insight into diasporas’ power to unsettle spatial and temporal delimitations and to reveal alternative geopolitical connections and social webs. The research involved a multi-method and multi-site ethnography. Through biographical accounts, fieldwork conducted in situ, and both archive and contemporary photographs, I followed a web of social scenes dating from the 1970s. Long-standing diasporic social scenes allow for a conceptualisation of ‘home’ as made through continuity and change, and in relation to diverse public domains rather than in seclusion. Through social scenes, home-making is achieved through embodied practices, material objects and physical landscapes, dynamics that allow for a grounded approach to diaspora and home, both of which emerge as a process rather than as given. In this grounded approach, diasporas’ historical grievances and memories still matter. The focus is on how they are reinstated and made to matter in the local present. The thesis was accompanied by an exhibition which presented different research materials to provide to the reader alternative means to navigate and weave the lines that connect the scenes’ different temporalities and spaces. Complementing the written account, it offered a more vivid approach to the scenes’ connected actors, routines and atmospheres. Moreover, the exhibition established a parallel between ethnographic research and ‘curating’ – both involve managing, classifying, arranging and selecting ‘objects’, as well as using one’s knowledge to collect relevant pieces and make them public. As a form of assembled scenery, the exhibition also contributed to an interactive, multidimensional and dynamic understanding of home.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Diaspora, Chilean exiles, social scenes, home, belonging, Latin American London, diaspora space, visual methods, visual sociology, curating sociology

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Urban and Community Research (CUCR)


28 February 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

04 Mar 2015 12:09

Last Modified:

08 Oct 2023 01:26


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