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Research Colloquium: Dr Katia Chornik
May 28, 2019 @ 5:15 pm - 7:15 pmFree
Dr Katia Chornik (University of Manchester and Surrey County Council) – ‘Communal Singing in Political Detention Centres in Pinochet’s Chile (1973-1990)’
The Colloquia feature leading figures, as well as younger scholars, from across the world. They present their research in papers on all kinds of music-related topics. Graduate students Jason Weir and Emma Kavanagh organise the series. Presentations are followed by discussion and a drinks reception. Students, staff, and the general public are warmly encouraged to attend.
Over a thousand political detention and torture centres operated in Chile during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. In these places, group singing was commonplace, from spontaneous singalongs to organised choirs that gave performances. When initiated by inmates, singing experiences were often empowering, exemplifying what the cultural critic and former political prisoner Jorge Montealegre (2018) terms “paradoxical happiness”. Singing was also imposed on political prisoners by agents of the State, and on occasions in direct relation with human rights violations (Chornik 2018). After presenting an overview of the settings and repertoire used for communal singing, I will discuss the trajectory of a choir formed in Tres Álamos camp and revived four decades later, drawing on ongoing ethnographic work and materials from the Cantos Cautivos / Captive Songs archive (www.cantoscautivos.org), directed by me and recently featured in the British Museum’s I Object exhibition.