The Right to Dignity: Housing Struggles, City Making, and Citizenship in Urban Chile

Miguel Pérez

November 8, 2022

Event Description

In the last decade, Chilean pobladores (poor urban residents) have powerfully mobilized for the social right to housing. In a context in which neoliberal, subsidy-based housing policies have promoted the segregation of poor families on the city’s margins, pobladores’ struggles are framed in a political language in which the notion of “dignity” is now central. Drawing on 17 months of ethnographic research conducted between 2011 and 2015, this presentation shows how, in a context of neoliberal governmentality, the right to la vida digna (a life with dignity) has helped new generations of housing activists articulate their claims to citizenship rights, equality, and social recognition. Thus, this presentation argues that moral concepts such as dignity, while allowing for the formation of ethical subjects, enable vulnerable people to signify their everyday experiences in political terms. In doing so, it reflects on the political centrality of dignity, a moral category that would ultimately become the driving force behind Chile's 2019 social uprising.


Miguel Pérez, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile.


Hosted by the Center for Ethnographic Research, cosponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies and the Department of Anthropology.