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Utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methods, I examine the historical context and audio/visual content of mediated political communication developed during the transition to democratic rule that took place in Chile during the late 1980s. Through this work, I track how mediated political communication relates to politics enacted as a lived, social process. The relationship between mediated and social forms of enacting politics, particularly the differentiation between these, is what I have identified as a key unit of analysis within the mediatization of politics.
I propose that the mediatization of politics is best understood as an historical, political, and theoretical process, embodied in the cultural assimilation of imagined political configurations. As was the case in 1988 Chile, this process potentially helps reconcile contradictory relationships between what is politically viable as a social and historical course of action, with what is represented as acceptable in a mediated space of political culture (televisual, online, etc.). I draw from mediatization theory to examine seminal cases of political communication from throughout Latin America and the United States. Furthermore, my use of mediatization theory involves the incorporation of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), to analyze audio visual content as an artifact of political culture – that is, a mediated representation of an enduring qualitative alteration of the shared meaning of democracy and politics in general.
I have reached this stage of my research convinced that what I have discovered is essential for a more critical understanding of contemporary, hyper-mediated, youth oriented political movements, such as the anti-H.R. 4437 movement (2006), the Arab Spring (2010), Occupy Wall Street (2011), #YoSoy132 (2012), Black Lives Matter (2013), and even Trumpism (2015), when this last phenomena is understood as a broad cultural process that will endure beyond the November presidential elections.
I intend to continue my work into the mediatization of politics by comparing political communication across several Latin American countries, including Spanish language media within the United States. As the mediatization of politics helped reconfigure the relationship between people, media, and political action in post-Pinochet Chile, I expect to find similar changes in the mediated formation of class, national, gender, racial, and ethnic identity markers across the North America. Ultimately, this line of investigation informs a research agenda that tracks how communication technologies contribute to identity formation and cultural consumption, within the context of advanced neoliberal capitalism.
Furthermore, as a consequence of my fieldwork in Chile, I now have in my possession the only publically available complete set of 1988 Franjas. This extremely rare, 13-hour collection of audio-visual material has been effectively censored in Chile through the imposition of series of post-Pinochetista copyright regulations. Notwithstanding the production of a feature film, multiple books, and a theatrical play that have contributed to the mythology of these 1988 Franjas, the complete story of their censorship has never been told. I intend to tell this story.
My second, ongoing research agenda intersects theoretically with my mediatization research at multiple points, although it is focused on secondary education, critical pedagogy, and educational technology. My experience as a member of the UCSD Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition (LCHC) underscores my extensive background in pedagogical methods, educational technologies, and theories of human cognition. Drawing from a massive data set collected while I was the project director for the Community Stations Initiative, I am currently developing two potential publications focusing on Technologically Mediated Collaborative Learning: Optimal Arrangements of Physical Spaces; and Multi-Site Lesson Planning and the Work-Arounds.
Doctoral Dissertation – “Democracy, Television, and the Mediatization of Chilean Politics: How the Medium Became the Message in Post-Pinochet Chile”
Augusto Pinochet’s regime permanently altered Chilean politics during his seventeen years as dictator of Chile. By the late 1980s, Pinochet’s hold on power remained unyielding, political reconciliation with the military was unimaginable, and civil war seemed inevitable. Notwithstanding the lack of substantive political change, on March 11, 1990, Pinochet ceremoniously handed the presidential sash to the leader of his legal opposition, Patricio Aylwin, thus initiating a peaceful transition to civilian rule in Chile.
My dissertation examines the context and content of the Franja de Propaganda Electoral of 1988. What loosely translates as “official space for electoral propaganda” – was a nationally televised, largely uncensored, 30-minute political program, representing the two sides of the 1988 Plebiscito; the NO campaign in opposition to the military regime, and the pro-Pinochet SÍ campaign.
The Franja Electoral became a mediated space of Chilean politics, just beyond the repressive reach of the Pinochetista regime, within which a seemingly impossible transition was not only articulated, but also, through which, a transformation of Chilean political culture was engendered. To help explain this transformation, I draw from a conceptual framework known as mediatization theory, to examine the Franja Electoral as a sample case for the mediatization of Chilean politics. I propose that this case is best understood as an historical, political, and theoretical process, rooted in the cultural assimilation of an imagined political configuration. The mediatization of Chilean politics was a process that would ultimately help reconcile a contradictory relationship between what was politically viable as a social and historical course of action, with what was represented as acceptable in a mediated, televisual space of political culture.
Furthermore, this project helps in the recovery of an exceptionally rare, complete collection of the 1988 Franja Electoral, and includes one of only a handful of content analyses performed on this important audio-visual material. Finally, my use of mediatization theory involves the incorporation of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), to analyze the Franja Electoral as an artifact of Chilean political culture – a mediated representation of an enduring qualitative alteration in the meaning of Democracy in Chile.
I have a lifetime of experience as a community advocate, an educator, and a producer of digital media. My Ph.D., from the Department of Communication at UCSD, provided me with a strong background in critical theories of the media, multiple qualitative and quantitative research methods, all stages of digital media production, and multiple opportunities to undertake collaborative projects with graduate students and faculty across disciplines and academic divisions. Additionally, I have accumulated over twenty-five years of first-hand experience in print journalism, desktop publishing, graphic design, webpage design, and videography.