Chilean National Identity: The Various Iterations of Chilean Identity in the Miners' Accident of 2010

Open Access
Yunis, Bernardita Maria
Graduate Program:
Communication Arts and Sciences
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 30, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Kirtley Hasketh Wilson, Thesis Advisor
  • Chile
  • Miners
  • San Jose Mine
  • Identity
  • Chilean Identity
  • Testimonio
  • Media Analysis
  • Chilean Miners
  • Miners Accident 2010
This project looks at the accident and rescue of 33 Chilean miners in 2010 as a constitutive moment in the creation and expression of Chile’s national identity, both within the nation and for international audiences. A critical examination of the rhetoric that surrounds this moment reveals how Chilean identity was (re)constructed in different ways. This thesis seeks to understand how versions of Chilean identity differed, what tensions were evident among the various versions, what common ground existed between Chilean media and international visions of Chile, and how this moment operated within a historical context of Latin American visibility and invisibility for U.S. audiences. To approach these questions, the project analyzes several different types of discourse: Chilean and U.S. newspapers, governmental press releases, and direct quotes from actors who participated in the Chilean mining accident and rescue. By analyzing how these voices created distinctive narratives, this project participates in conversations within rhetorical studies and Latina/o communication studies about identity creation, invisibility, temporality, tokenization, iconicity, testimonio, and the effects of characterization in narrative. Further, examining the accident and the rescue through a rhetorical lens illuminates how Latin American leaders and the media utilized language and discourse to influence perceptions about Chile, and it helps us understand how the miners searched for their own agency within difficult circumstances. This analysis demonstrates that the media attention given to this moment temporarily shattered the invisibility of Latin American nations in the United States, forcing American and international audiences to recognize Chile. But while Chile forged a space for itself in the collective consciousness of the international community, this space did not last. In the end, the “Chilean Way” advanced the political careers of a few Chilean officials, but the miners and the Chilean people could not escape either the stereotypes or lack of recognition that so often determines Latin America’s relationship to the rest of the world.