As an intern at the Institute for Social Science Research (which, I quickly learned, was affectionately called ICSO for short), my main task was to create a comprehensive report on the economic elite’s attitudes towards one of Chile’s most marginalized indigenous groups, the Mapuche. I analyzed dozens of interviews and existing sociological research on the issue (a few of which were published by my coworkers), and compared the indigenous situation in Chile to those in other countries, such as New Zealand and Canada. My job was not only to provide a thorough account of the situation, but to analyze the elites’ attitudes in the context of Chile’s struggle to confront multiculturalism, neoliberalism, and—as many respondents believed—a state government that did not meet citizens’ desires.
Multiculturalism, neoliberalism, and ineffective states are not issues unique to Chile. In fact, I think one of the most beneficial aspects of my internship was that I was able to compare and contrast the experiences of the respondents and other Chileans with my own experiences in the United States—whether it be the political theory I read in Gov20, the controversial, often racially-motivated events always making the headlines, or my own personal encounters. As a result, I was able to get a deeper understanding of the issues at hand. On a personal level, I was able to relate with some Chileans I met, allowing me to understand the nation and its people in a new light.
I think ICSO is perfect for someone who has an interest in honing their research and writing skills, and understanding the political and moral consequences of rapid economic development. Chile, whose economic boom under Pinochet was hailed the “Chilean Miracle,” is one of the best places to analyze such a phenomenon. Economic history aside, working in Chile during its impressive World Cup performance was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. My coworkers and I often spent the first few weeks of my internship enthusiastically talking about our predictions, the latest and greatest upset, and even hosted lunch parties to watch Chile’s games while at work. During this incredibly exciting time, I was able to see a completely different side of Chileans and understand that, although they believed they had a long road to development and democracy, they were still proud and passionate about their nation.
Written by: Hamna Nazir '17
Summer Internship Program Chile 2014
Internship site: Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias Sociales