UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social movements as learning communities : Chilean exiles and knowledge production in and beyond the solidarity movement Palacios, Carolina


The atrocities committed by the military in Chile after the armed forces seized power in 1973 horrified Chileans and people around the world who had been following events in Chile for years prior to the coup. Together with the resistance in Chile, the transnational solidarity movement integrated by Chilean exiles and non-Chileans across the globe played a major role in ending the dictatorship. Since in-depth empirical studies of social movement learning are sparse this study addresses this gap as well as the ones in the existent research on the Chilean solidarity movement in Canada and elsewhere, the political activities of Chilean exiles in Canada and the Chilean solidarity movement specifically from a learning perspective. The purposes of this research, therefore, were to document and understand collective learning processes among solidarity movement participants and to contribute to the empirical and theoretical social movement learning scholarship. This study employed qualitative historical research methods, including oral history interviews and reviewing formal and informal archives. The conceptual tools used to understand solidarity movement learning and knowledge production drew broadly on new social movement thought and in particular on Freire, Gramsci and Habermas, which enabled an analysis of wider social forces, the specific pedagogies of the solidarity movement and the connections between the two. The findings speak to the value of a varied repertoire of action which merges the political with the cultural and which blends the intellectual with the emotional and the sensory. They also point to the power of artistic forms of expression for articulating and communicating social movement messages and for expressing identities. In addition, the findings show the local, experiential knowledge generated in social movements is vital to achieving movement aims, to critical learning and transformation, and to constructing individual and collective social movement identities. The study concludes that understanding social movements as learning communities is essential because it foregrounds the value and legitimacy of movement knowledge and the centrality of learning and knowledge production to movement aims and to the significance of movements for movement members, their allies and the public.

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