Today’s class was a continuation of Chile, especially with thinking about different types of primary sources. As we did with the corridos during the Mexican Revolution, we took time to examine the arpilleras made by women, or arpilleristas, during the Pinochet regime in Chile, as they are both artistic expressions that fall under the primary source category. The two Historical Analysis questions we aimed to answer in class today are as follows:
- What are arpilleras and what insight can they give us into lived experiences of Chileans during the Pinochet dictatorship?
- What questions should historians ask in using artwork as a primary source?
We then brainstormed as a class to arrive to a few broad conclusions about the arpilleras and their origin. Literally meaning “burlap,” they are canvases depicting daily scenes of life in Chile, including notable events surrounding the regime. Originally started as a means of therapeutic self-expression, their popularity grew internationally. This benefit the arpilleristas greatly in terms of monetary support due to the fact that many of the primary breadwinners of the household (men) were part of the large number of desparecidos, or people who disappeared during the Pinochet regime. In addition, the Church played a significant role in their distribution, which allows us to deduce that they were likely taking a stance against the regime. We concluded by analyzing some of the arpilleras that currently reside in international exhibitions.