Memories of Exile and Return

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Memories of Exile and Return
This one day international symposium, held in the Law Department and in the 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. It focused in particular on the refugee
programme run by World University Service (WUS) between 1974 and 1985, an initiative that
provided grants and university places 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 received core funding from the IAS and the HRF Impact Award schemes and
was sponsored by the Departments of History and Law, the Centre for Ethnic Relations, and
the Arts Centre. It brought together a group of some thirty delegates who had been directly
involved in the WUS programme: UK academics, NGO representatives, and Chilean scholars
who had come to the UK as exiles and were now resident in Chile, in other areas in Latin
America or in Europe.
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 Littin, Dawson, Isla 10
(Dawson, Island Number 10, 2009). Miguel Littin had accepted an invitation to attend the
seminar, but the earthquake in Chile, followed by the volcanic ash disruptions over Europe,
finally prevented his travelling. His film rounded off the day very well. It showed life in the
prison camp in the south of Chile, where the Allende government ministers were detained
following the 1973 coup. One of the ministers depicted in the film, Dr Edgardo Enriquez, the
Minister of Education, arrived in exile in the UK in 1975 as one of the first WUS grant holders.
John King
Comparative American Studies
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