This paper examines how heritage alternative discourses and practices are produced in the urban sphere emerging from the social life of marginalized communities in Chile. Focusing on the industrial landscape of Lota, a former coal-mining city in the south of the country, I show how grassroots organizations are using heritage as a political and organizational tool. For example, they use heritage to re-signify historical narratives that shape their identities and to create new spaces of citizenship and participation in a context where such rights are limited. Through their memorialization and preservation practices, these groups destabilize the normalized relations between communities, authorities, and experts exercising their right to citizenship and inclusion and thus broadening the understandings of heritage at a local and national level.
Magdalena Novoa is an assistant professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Originally from Chile, her engaged scholarship focuses on the intersections of historic preservation and social justice, the politics of cultural heritage and memory, Latin American feminism, grassroots organizing, and alternative planning approaches in the Americas.