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International Symposium: Memories of Exile and Return

symposiumpic2010largeThis one day international symposium, held in the Law Department and in the Warwick Arts Centre on 21 May 2010, explored the reception of Chilean academic refugees in the UK, following the military coup in Chile on 11 September 1973. The event focused on the refugee programme run by World University Service (WUS) between 1974 and 1985, an initiative that organized university places and provided grants for almost one thousand Chilean scholars displaced by the Pinochet regime. The award of a grant was often instrumental in securing release from prison for academics and students.

The seminar brought together a group of some thirty delegates, all directly involved in the WUS programme: UK academics, NGO representatives and Chilean scholars, who had come to the UK as exiles, as well as the distinguished journalist and writer Hugh O’Shaughnessy,who had covered the1973 Chilean coup from inside Chile. Many of these delegates had not met for over thirty years, so the encounter was memorable at both a personal and an intellectual level. The symposium began a very useful discussion between academics and NGO representatives about how the lessons of the Chilean exile experience helped to shape and inform subsequent government policy towards refugees.


The day ended with a reception in the Mead Gallery and a screening – the UK premiere – of an Oscar nominated film by the renowned Chilean director, Miguel Littín: Dawson Isla 10 (Dawson, Island Number 10, 2009). The film follows life in the prison camp set up on Dawson Island, in the far south of Chile, where the Allende government ministers were kept in isolation following the coup. One of the ministers depicted in the film, Allende’s Minister of Education, Dr. Edgardo Enríquez, arrived in exile in the UK as one of the first WUS grant holders.

This event received core funding from the IAS Impact Award and was also sponsored by the Humanities Research Fund, the Departments of History and Law, the Centre for Ethnic Relations and the Arts Centre.

Click here to read some of the presentations of this symposium.

Click here to listen to the presentations and testimonies of this symposium.