U.S. Solidarity with Latin America: The Formation of a Political Consciousness
Dyer, Chelsey G
This dissertation explores how US activists involved in US Latin American Solidarity campaigns from the 1980s to the present developed a political consciousness of their own relationship to and role in influencing political projects both nationally and internationally. The US has a long history of enacting military, economic and political control across Latin America. In response to US policies, a myriad of campaigns have emerged in the US contesting foreign intervention. These campaigns have varied in size, success, and have been populated with both Latin American immigrants and those who have only lived in the US. In focusing solely on what spurred people in the US to actively contest policies that, to them, often go unseen, ultimately this research is about the multitude of fissures through which people begin to fracture the hegemonic narratives that inform their lives. I illustrate how coming to a political consciousness is a multi-step process much more involved than simply “raising awareness”. Drawing deeply from life history interviews I discuss how moments of liminality, communitas, affect, and historical circumstances crafted and informed by personal relationships and cultural institutions, work together to gradually shift people's political consciousness. By approaching how solidarity is understood and crafted at the interpersonal level, this research sheds light on how conceptions of solidarity can and do change to inform activists' tactical decisions. Moreover, through outlining the most influential factors that can shift political thinking, this dissertation shows how resistance is constructed and understood offstage, between well-publicized public protests and mass movements.