CONCHILMEM
CONDORITO CHILE MEMORY

“El arte de hacer Condorito”, unknown date (198?) and publisher. Source: Courtesy of Archivo de Láminas y Estampas Biblioteca Nacional de Chile.

About
Condorito: using graphic humor to untangle subjectivities of trauma, classes, gender, and the idea of race across Chile’s divided memory (1970-1990)

CONCHILMEM is a multidisciplinary historical research project that seeks to aid coming to terms with collective memory and trauma through the lens of graphic humor in the context of Salvador Allende’s Chilean Road to Socialism (1970-1973) and the military regime of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), a period crucial to understanding Chile’s present-day political and constitutional renewal. The project does so by means of the renowned Condorito” comic strip, created by Pepo (René Ríos Boettiger, 1913-2000) in 1949 and a beacon of Chilean popular culture and local identity that transcended political positions and eluded censorship.

CONCHILMEM interprets multidimensional cultural trauma in Chile through white humor, presents a new path through the field of transnational history within Cold War studies, and offers the first examination of the “Condorito” strip in this context. The aim is to put forward a new perspective on memory studies through fresh interpretations in the fields of social and cultural history, approaching intersubjectivity via intersectional methods and theories. 

In addition, CONCHILMEM studies its creator, Pepo, through a collection of his personal letters, unravelling gender relations over the course of the twentieth century by focusing on the history of emotions and urban history. By assessing Pepo’s genealogy through his letters, CONCHILMEM helps to establish a more profound connection between national memory-making and the role of comic strips as a medium through which these processes take place.

By focusing on memory and comics from Latin America, along with various sources upon which to base new data for examination, CONCHILMEM aspires to build bridges for regional, transatlantic, and global comparisons; drive better understanding of contemporary societies in general; connect with emotions while revisiting the illustrator’s intimate past; and help society to address and cope with divided memory.

Illustration by Pepo for the newspaper "El Sur" published in Concepción on February 14, 1937. Source: Courtesy of Luis Yáñez.

Objectives

By untangling cultural trauma in Chile during the toughest period of the Cold War through graphic humor, the general research objective is to put forward a fresh approach to memory studies, along with new interpretations in the fields of comics and trauma, intersectional perspectives, a history of emotions vis-á-vis Pepo, and cultural history.

The specific research objectives are threefold:

  • The first is to study the graphic art of Condorito during the 1970s as Chile was undergoing a complete economic, political, and social turnaround, and to address through the strips the collapse of democracy and the hidden role of ruptured perceptions, memory, conceptualizations of trauma in class gender identities, and transformation from past to present. 
  • The second objective is to create a history of emotions through Pepo’s personal correspondence in order to disentangle gender relations and their ties with urban history during the process of modernization that Chile underwent during the twentieth century.
  • The third objective is to map transatlantic historical processes of Chile’s recent past through the eyes of both Chileans at home and the present-day Chilean-Italians, along with the latter’s acculturation vis-à-vis this icon of popular culture, Condorito.
“Despelotillehue”, September 1973. Source: Courtesy of Archivo de Láminas y Estampas Biblioteca Nacional de Chile.
Advertising for Condorito n° 14, Empresa Editora Zig-zag, S.A, 1964. Source: Courtesy of Archivo de Láminas y Estampas Biblioteca Nacional de Chile.
Print of Condorito "Tranquilo cacharrito, que voy con mi amorcito" by Pepo, Santiago de Chile, 1980. Source: Courtesy of Archivo de Láminas y Estampas Biblioteca Nacional de Chile.