Interaction and Coexistence between Recent Migrants to Chile and Locals: A Phenomenological Exploration

2017-10-27T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Johann D Garcia
International migration is reconfiguring places into points of encounter of multiple cultures. The people in these spaces, however, face challenges of exclusion related to lack of recognition, discrimination and a tendency to homogenize identities. This dissertation explores the extent to which migrant and native Chilean communities recognize and respect each other in their interactions, particularly as they negotiate the private and public realms. The research is based on two centrally located neighborhoods in Santiago, Chile—Benito Juarez and Yungay—that are experiencing significant immigration from other Latin American countries. The study starts with a critical analysis of the phenomenology of spaces of intercultural coexistence. Using the Case Study Method, this research applies participant observation in public spaces, and in-depth qualitative interviews of Latin American immigrants and Chileans residing in these two neighborhoods along with government and local officials. The analysis focuses on the struggles related to the immigrants’ housing accommodations and the surrounding public spaces. The findings indicate that the spatial practices of immigrant communities tend to be affected by segregation as encounters with Chilean residents are very limited and the use of public space is rather conflictive. The micro politics of these encounters predominantly take the form of territorial and cultural contestations. Ultimately, rather than producing mutually enriching encounters, the entry of immigrants is generating tensions between Chileans and Latin American immigrants, somewhat enticing both sides to close off and retreat into their own communities. Unless processes are put in place to facilitate positive encounters, this division can deepen developing feelings of isolation.