Date of Award

August 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Gilberto Blasini

Committee Members

Patrice Petro, Richard Grusin, Natasha Borges Sugiyama


Affect, Chile, Cinema, Memory, Post-dictatorship, Trauma


Censorship was the modus operandi during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. People and media alike suffered as the oppressive Chilean government suppressed many truths about the Coup, the torture and disappearance of victims and their families, and facts about the state violence that took place from 1973 to the late 1980s. The resulting trauma nurtured a culture of silence, a divided social fabric, and many gaps in historical knowledge. Those who absorbed the media experienced a lack of connection and identification with fabricated and falsified histories, thereby essentially cut off from truly engaging with the traumas of Chile’s dark history. The struggle to connect the realities of the past, the narratives presented as official history, and private histories continue to this day. Many Chilean films since 1990 have been made that reflect upon, embody, critique, and demonstrate the trauma of Chile’s recent past. This project addresses how Chilean films from 1990 – 2015 reclaim and remember what the dictatorship suppressed by bringing to the screen untold, unofficial narratives. In doing so, filmmakers identify and recognize images and the bodies of many of those who suffered under the dictatorship. By engaging with the affective and historical registers, these films present a potential instance for new possibilities of meaning-making as they relate to the dictatorship.

This dissertation seeks to understand how the spectator with his/her/their body engages with Chile’s history under Pinochet’s authoritarian government. The trajectory of study takes the reader from looking at historical figures to fictive characters who embody the complexities of the residual trauma from the dictatorship. Textual analyses of these films were conducted using (primarily) affect theory, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and studies in Latin American cinema: Salvador Allende (2004), Machuca (2005), Nostalgia de la luz (2012), El botón de nacar (2014), Johnny cien pesos (1993), NO (2012), La muerte de Pinochet (2011), Historia de un oso (2014), and Gloria (2014). By linking the bodies of those who suffered in Chile to the narratives on screen, their memory and presence are substantiated and removed from the mire of censorship.