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Volume 54 / Humanities


19th and 20th Centuries: Chile

WILLIAM F. SATER, Professor of History, California State University, Long Beach

HISTORIANS STILL SIFT THROUGH the ashes of the Moneda seeking to understand why the UP collapsed. Faúndez, who sees Allende as part of the development of the left, blames domestic forces for fomenting the 1973 coup (item bi 92011813); Kaufman considers the US as a major contributor to Allende's fall (item bi 92011809); and Angell cogently argues that generic flaws within the Chilean political system itself condemned Allende to failure (item bi 91006371). Meanwhile, scholars are finally focusing on the Pinochet period: the Captain-General's memoirs, while hardly enlightening, should be consulted if not perused (item bi 92011899); Cavallo's study, although lacking in analysis, provides a coherent narrative (item bi 92011812); and Valdivieso's work acts as a distinctly rightist antidote to the majority of the publications (item bi 92011900).

Chile's pre-1891 history remains neglected; a notable exception is Bravo's collection of splendid essays (item bi 92011901) describing not merely Portales and his policies but the nation he molded. There is, as usual, a work on the star-crossed Balmaceda. This year's effort, however, is the particularly innovative study by Subercaseaux which explores the interaction of culture and politics in post-Balmaceda Chile (item bi 92011924).

Scholars still pay some attention to the traditionally-neglected post-World War I years. Covarrubia's volume tracing the early efforts of future leaders of the Christian Democratic Party is quite useful (item bi 92011908). Muñoz's essay on the 1932 Socialist Republic (item bi 92011914) provides a good, brief summary of a period which still begs for some stalwart soul to investigate more thoroughly. The Milicia Republicana, one of the results of the turbulent early 1930s, is discussed in Maldonado's welcome, albeit far from definitive study (item bi 92011928). Since Ibáñez's second regime seems to attract little attention, Moulian's work (item bi 92011892) as well as Garay's analysis of the PAL and the General of Hope's rise to power (item bi 93000333) are well worth reading.

Historians of the Chilean economy continue to be productive. Particularly worthy of mention is the joint effort by Julio Pinto Vallejos and Luis Ortega to explain the relationship between the growth of mining and the development of local industry (item bi 94004184). The late Harold Blakemore's splendid monograph on the British nitrate railroad explains that company's activities in the north (item bi 94003719). Two authors have concentrated on the more bucolic agrarian sector: Bengoa's superb two volumes explore Chile's various agricultural endeavors as well as the relationship between patrón and inquilino (item bi 94004220); and Garrido's study provides a detailed monograph on the history of Chile's agrarian reform (item bi 92011906). While not as graphic as Lillo's Sub terra (Santiago: Imprenta Moderna, 1904), Figueroa deftly describes the lot of the coal miners and their attempts to improve their lives (item bi 92011927). Garcés notes how the salitre miners' attempts to use the strike to address their grievances culminated in the infamous 1907 Iquique massacre (item bi 92011935).

Military history continues to enjoy some popularity. Rodríguez has compiled an exhaustive bibliography on the War of the Pacific (item bi 93000320). The Estado Mayor's index to its multi-volume study of the Chilean Army is useful (item bi 92011923) and its three-tome biographical dictionary (item bi 92011913), while hardly analytical, provides the reader a quick sketch of various military figures as well as a good bibliography. A more successful monograph is Maldonado's examination of how the carabineros evolved from a military appendage into a highly efficient and professional national police (item bi 91027199). Naval buffs will enjoy Aguirre's article demonstrating that Chile's fleet, unlike its army, performed well in the war against the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation (item bi 91011595).

Institutional history has been enriched by several scholars. Yaeger's article on the Instituto Nacional, Chile's most venerable liceo which educated generations of the nation's leading laicos, is particularly useful (item bi 92000163). Muñoz's workmanlike history of the Universidad de Santiago, from its inception as the Escuela de Artes y Oficios, enhances our understanding of the history of higher education in Chile (item bi 92011905). Huerta's analysis of the role of the Roman Catholic Church, while relying perhaps too much on clerical sources, nonetheless provides important information for understanding that seminal institution (item bi 92011929).

Chileans are finally paying some attention to their immigrant past. Couyoumdjian's comprehensive bibliography constitutes an excellent starting point for those interested in the pre-1930 period (item bi 92013638), and Norambuena's work is especially helpful because it includes material describing the various laws regulating immigration (item bi 92000916). Ferrer shows how Spanish Loyalists reached Chile just as the Republic collapsed (item bi 92011910). Díaz's work on the often-denigrated Italians widens the scope of immigrant history (item bi 92011933), while Capellero's autobiography provides a classic study of the sojourner (item bi 92011922). Olguín is one of the few to chronicle the less numerous but often vilified turcos: hapless refugees of the Ottoman Empire who filtered into Chile beginning at the turn of this century (item bi 92011938). Eventually, someone should chronicle the Italians and Arabs as Blancpain did for the French.

Regional histories, long a research focus, benefit from Campos Harriet's study of Concepción (item bi 92011896). Worthy of special mention are the magisterial works of Martinic on Punta Arenas and Magallanes (items bi 92011903 and bi 92011911). Last but not least, Romero's excellent work traces the odyssey of the displaced or ambitious inquilinos who moved back and forth from the supposedly bucolic fundos to the city in search of work (item bi 92002111).

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