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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Memories of sounds : radio as sound representation among the Latin American exiled diaspora in the Canadian west coast Miranda Barrios, Carmen


The 1970s and 1980s were decades of turmoil as political violence spread through different parts of Latin America in the context of the Cold War. Exiles from the Southern Cone made their way to the Canadian west coast, followed soon by Central American refugees. During this time, the emergent Pan-Latin American diaspora and local alternative media activists produce the radio program América Latina al Día [Latin America Today] or ALAD as a tool with which to create a sonorous space for discourse and praxis. Since its creation, the radio show has been bilingual, run by volunteers and has been on air for more than forty years from the Vancouver Radio Cooperative studios. This dissertation examines closely why and how different waves of Latin American exiles arriving in Vancouver in the last third of the 20th Century made use of bilingual radio. Through an oral narrative approach, this case study maps the radio experience as an everyday practice in the life of 10 former ALAD radio collective members during the 1980s. The author also weaves her own experience(s) as media activist, radio producer and exile. The study’s interdisciplinary focus provides rich insights in four broad themes that emerged from the oral interviews: 1) radio as a social and connective medium and its impact on the lives of the participants, 2) radio seen as a new kind of Latin American public plaza, 3) the emotional and physical challenges brought into the lives of the interviewees due to their participation in the radio collective, and 4) the process of producing ALAD as a practice in motion. This case study sheds light into the ways exiles recreate communication media to maintain a link with their home countries, while rebuilding their political identity and re-creating trans diasporic communities. ALAD is a unique example of a communication practice in motion (Rodriguez, 2001) and constitutes an exercise of cultural agency, not only for exiles and migrants from Latin America, but also for local activists who share the utopian conviction that alternative media can be a tool for social transformation.

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