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The enlightened dictatorship: genealogy of an audiovisual propaganda culture in Chile [73/78]

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posted on 2022-03-28, 13:36 authored by Pablo Alberto Leighton
This work explores a feature of cultural power developed during the Chilean dictatorship (1973-90), particularly the ways by which audiovisual mass media helped in the rise and stability of that government, and articulated its foundational discourses. -- The study contemplates the building of hegemony in Chile; in other words, the creation of politico-social consent by cultural forms of power. The thesis investigates the manifestation of popular support to the Chilean dictatorship and its dominance using non-repressive means, at a singular moment (1973-78), universally associated with violent coercion. The thesis proposes that in order to observe and understand that power equation -the will to govern by force without completely discarding consent- one of its cultural forms must be exposed. An audiovisual culture illustrates and assists that equation in the most evocative manner during the most repressive stage of the dictatorship. -- The tension between coercion and consent in Chile, a crossroad of fields of action and discourses, demands more than one discipline of study. This research does not prioritise academic disciplines because of their scientific or methodological features, but opts for one juncture of knowledge: a cultural history. This approach privileges form over content, and culture above political-economic determinations. The study, a particular cultural history, focuses on a case study also with its own tension: a communication medium that has the exceptional capacity of both reproducing and building events. -- The thesis identifies a historical phase when the method of coercion was primarily supplemented by propaganda practices. Specifically, the study concludes that the dictatorship from its inaugural night favoured one cultural modality to communicate and create consent: television. Secondly, the propaganda practice that hid or distorted the use of violence as political control was more effective when it coincided with an audiovisual culture. Thirdly, during this stage the dictatorship encountered the most evocative expression for a systemic re-foundation in the audiovisual medium: it personalised political power in the figure of Augusto Pinochet; legitimised the violent takeover through a visual historiography of the prior government; and supported through televised events a constitutional re-foundation and a neoliberal revolution. Finally, the thesis argues that the preference for television allowed its industrial and discursive growth and relative autonomy. The use of audiovisual culture in the period covered by the thesis marked the path towards a fully cultural phase of the medium in Chile and of the dictatorship in the future, when the image of despotism gradually disappeared to consummate a hegemony.


Alternative Title

Genealogy of an audiovisual propaganda culture in Chile [73/78] | Genealogy of an audiovisual propaganda culture in Chile [1973/78]

Table of Contents

Prologue: Message Zero -- chapter 1: Armed television -- First sequence: Message one -- Second sequence: National chain -- Third sequence: Continuity television -- chapter 2: Montage -- Fourth sequence: Grey propaganda -- Fifth sequence: Black propaganda -- chapter 3: Scripts -- Sixth sequence: Culture of a personality -- Seventh sequence: The new illustrated history -- Eighth sequence: Audiovisual refoundation -- chapter 4: Archives of culture -- Ninth sequence: National collection -- Tenth sequence: Stellar collection -- Epilogue.


Bibliography: pages 313-379

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Nicole Matthews


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Pablo Alberto Leighton 2012.






liii, 385 pages

Former Identifiers

mq:28096 2066633