In the contentious struggles over the interpretation of Chile's past, the presidential palace, La Moneda, exemplifies the dynamic interactions of history, memory, place, and national identity. This dissertation argues that the actual physical site of La Moneda has been used throughout Chile's history as a stage for the performance of legitimacy and citizenship, while its image - particularly the image of the building in flames on September 11, 1973 -- has been used as both a symbol and, more recently, a text. In 2000, after a decade of post-authoritarian transition and the accompanying struggles over memory of the 1973 military coup and the Pinochet dictatorship that followed, then-President Ricardo Lagos took the symbolic step of re-opening of La Moneda to visits by ordinary Chileans. This created a unique opportunity to examine, through visitor surveys and interviews, how the site functions as a focus of Chilean historical discourse and governance. While the reopening was an important element of the Lagos administration's push for reconciliation, the administration was not able to control fully the interpretation or experience that visitors drew from La Moneda. This reveals the tensions inherent in any historic or emblematic site. Further, this history of the uses of La Moneda by Chilean leaders and of the public reactions to it demonstrates that despite Lagos' desire to declare Chile's transition complete, memory struggles related to the historical interpretation of the military coup of 1973 were still present as late as September 2003, as seen in the symbolic dimensions of this place.
University of Minnesota. Ph.D. dissertation. August 2010. Advisor: Sarah C. Chambers. Major: History. 1 computer file (PDF); iii, 126 pages.
Strasma, Mary Grace.
Histories in its Walls: La Moneda, memory and reconciliation in Post-Authoritarian Chile..
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