Revolutionary ruins: The case of Chile's KDP buildings
(Universidad Católica de Chile/Copenhagen University)
Paper short abstract:
The paper discusses the interplay between contemporary 'neoliberal' everyday life and a social housing infrastructure projected into a socialist reality that never came true. The analysis focus on the meaning and experience of utopia in material chronological perspective.
Paper long abstract:
The profound neoliberal reforms imposed during Pinochet's dictatorship and that have since perpetuated been in democracy are palpable in the ordering of urban space in Chile. Among other things, the subsidiary role of state housing policies and socio-economic segregation mark people's everyday lives, expressions of citizenship and imagination of the future. Yet, this neoliberal landscape coexists with 'revolutionary ruins' from the past where former governments invested in ambitious infrastructure projects that aimed at materializing the nation-state otherwise. The paper offers an ethnographic analysis of a social housing project in the city of Quilpué financed by a Soviet donation during Allende's revolutionary government (1970-1973). Today, families inhabit the departments where the walls are made of so-called KPD panels, produced in Chile under Soviet supervision. The aim of the project was to provide an affordable collective housing alternative for the working class - a denser and more dynamic 'city of the future' that would in turn facilitate the 'Chilean road to socialism' and the creation of a New Man. The paper discusses the interplay between contemporary 'neoliberal' everyday life and a infrastructure projected into a socialist reality that never came true. The departments both evoke nostalgia of another and more heterogeneous form of urban life and fear of this imagined reality among the inhabitants, local politicians, former factory workers and urban planners that engage with the area; and from an anthropological perspective the KDP panels invite us to engage the analysis of the meaning and experience of utopia in material chronological perspective.