Obstinate memory: Working-class politics and neoliberal forgetting in the United Kingdom and Chile

Journal article


Watkins, Heather and Urbina Montana, M. 2022. Obstinate memory: Working-class politics and neoliberal forgetting in the United Kingdom and Chile. Memory Studies. 15 (5), pp. 1127-1141. https://doi.org/10.1177/17506980211073111
AuthorsWatkins, Heather and Urbina Montana, M.
Abstract

In the 40 years since Chile and the United Kingdom became the crucibles of neoliberalization, working-class agency has been transformed, its institutions systematically dismantled and its politics, after the continuity neoliberalism of both the UK Blair government and the Chilean Concertación, in a crisis of legitimacy. In the process, memories of struggle have been captured within narratives of ‘capitalist realism’ (Fisher) – the present, past and future collapsed into Walter Benjamin’s ‘empty homogeneous time’. This article explores ways in which two traumatic moments of working-class struggle have been narrativized by the media in the service of this ‘presentism’: the 1973 coup in Chile and the 1984–1985 Miners’ Strike in the United Kingdom. We argue that the use of ‘living history’ or bottom-up approaches to memory provides an urgently needed recovery of disruptive narratives of class identity and offers a way of reclaiming alternative futures from the grip of reductive economic nationalism.

KeywordsChile; collective memory; media; neoliberalism; presentism; United Kingdom
Year2022
JournalMemory Studies
Journal citation15 (5), pp. 1127-1141
PublisherSAGE Journals
ISSN 1750-6999
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/17506980211073111
Web address (URL)https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/17506980211073111
Publisher's version
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Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online08 Feb 2022
Publication process dates
Deposited26 Jul 2023
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