Pamela Zapata Sepúlveda


This essay, invites the reader to explore, experience, and connect with multiple children’s lived experiences of immigration in the city of Arica, located near Chile’s northern border. The children’s stories are about borderland lives in a South American ‘corridor’ area, whose boundaries are at times defined and at times fuzzy. Obstacles (or opportunities), difficulties (or dreams): migrants’ lived experiences are mediated by nationality, skin colour, gender, socioeconomic status, employment intentions, and other issues.

While Chile’s public migration policies promise open borders, selection criteria may in practice reflect distrust, rejection, and discrimination. Chilean society, too, is divided: there is solidarity, tolerance, and respect, particularly towards children, but there may also be a sense that Latin American immigrants can be considered ‘problematic’ arrivals.

The moments I told in this chapter draw upon interpretive autoethnography (e.g. Denzin, 2014), and I chart the route of my own narrative, re-reading my own experiences of education-across-(and within)-borders at different times of my life in Chile, Spain, and the USA. These narratives throw into sharp focus my reflection on the current education system in Chile, and especially in the border region of Arica, from political, social, cultural, and historical perspectives. These factors influence the interactions and relationships forged between foreign children and Chilean children, both in the classroom and in the playground.

Palabras clave

Children of migrants; borders & transnacionalism; interpretive autoethnography; qualitative inquiry; schools

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Zapata-Sepúlveda, P. (in press) Borders, space and heartfelt perspectives in researching the “unsaid” about the daily life experiences of the children of migrants in the schools of Arica. In Lydia Turner, Nigel P. Short, Alec Grant, and Tony E. Adams (Eds.). International Perspectives on Autoethnographic Research and Practice. London & New York: Rutledge.

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