Welcome!

Welcome to the companion website for Surviving Dictatorship: A Work of Visual Sociology by Jacqueline Adams.

How do the urban poor, women in particular, experience and resist dictatorship? In answer to this question, this book focuses on women who lived in shantytowns in Santiago, Chile, under the dictatorship of General Pinochet (1973-1990). It examines these women's experiences of repression and exacerbated poverty, their economic survival strategies, and their resistance. Shantytown women’s resistance, it proposes, consisted of self-protection, community building, and mounting an offensive against the regime. Much of it was "incidental resistance," in that it was an unintended outcome of joining groups to cope with poverty or targeted repression; some of it was even "reluctant resistance," in which many of the women participated against their will, as a result of pressure by group leaders. A considerable proportion of it was “solidarity resistance” carried out to help people with problems different from their own.

To arrive at answers to these questions, Jacqueline Adams used methods drawn from the disciplines of sociology, history, and anthropology. She conducted interviews with women in shantytowns in varied districts of Santiago about their experiences of the regime and involvement in income-earning groups essential for their family’s survival, and also with the staff of humanitarian-cum-human rights organizations that were important supporters of the groups that the women formed. She conducted what she terms “art elicitation,” a variant of photo elicitation, whereby shantytown explained art works (arpilleras) they and others had made about repression, poverty, and resistance. She built up and analyzed a database of hundreds of photographs of shantytown experiences of the dictatorship, which she found in Chilean clandestine resistance organization newsletters, Chilean exile organization bulletins, autobiographies by shantytown inhabitants, academic books, and journal articles. She mined a collection at the Princeton University Libraries that contained flyers, bulletins, declarations, posters, and open letters by shantytown women’s groups in Santiago. Lastly, she drew on her field notes from participant observation that she conducted for a year with five shantytown women’s groups, for information relevant to the dictatorship period.

The book will be of interest to anyone with an interest in poverty, dictatorship, women’s experiences, or Latin America, and can fruitfully be used for teaching undergraduate students in sociology, history, anthropology, and political science.

On this website you will find electronic versions of the pictures in the text, broken down by chapter, and available for course use.