The 2011 student movement radically challenged the Chilean political process by exposing the hidden legacy of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship and demanding a complete restructuring of its neoliberal reforms. The demonstrators contended that these so-called reforms transformed education into a for-profit venture that had gradually produced social segregation and unequal access to quality education. After more than seven months of protests, marches, school strikes, and flash mobs, the movement became the most powerful force for social change since the struggle against the dictatorship. A key element of their success was their effective use of social theatricalities to communicate protesters' demands and to rearticulate the meaning of urban space. This essay aims to demonstrate that these tactics grounded on a poetics of the body symbolically reappropriated the neoliberal city—segregated and consumption-driven—and transformed it momentarily into a lively and energized counter-neoliberal space, where a community marked by solidarity and the promotion of social change emerged.
1 January 2016