When the COVID-19 cases started to appear in Latin America, I was in Chile conducting research about arpilleras, a type of political tapestry that women have been making since the years of the dictatorship to resist economic precarity and state violence. This creative practice proliferated in the context of the political upheaval that erupted in mid-Octuber to denounce social inequalities and demand change. I left Santiago on March 16th and two days later the Chilean government enacted the first state of emergency related to the health crisis. The streets that I saw packed with protestors are now mostly empty as Chileans face the harshest weeks of the pandemic.
However, arpillera makers have continued to create and circulate their tapestries in social media during the quarantine to draw attention to the underlying structures that worsen the health crisis, as well as to resist demobilization. This piece written for NACLA is a message of solidarity with the women that I did not have the chance to hug before leaving Santiago, and a celebration of the transformative work that they do with fabric, needle, and thread, even under harsh conditions like the current pandemic.
Find the article here: https://nacla.org/news/2020/07/06/chilean-arpilleras-lockdown