Arts & Humanities

Senior Wins Award for Thesis on Chilean Art Resisters

The Lankford Award goes to Flavia Bortoleto ’17.

By Isabel Lyndon '17 | July 19, 2017

History-literature major Flavia Bortoleto ’17 has won the Lankford Award for her thesis, “Temporary Marginalities: The Role of the Artist-Intellectual in Resisting Dictatorship in Chile (1973-1988).”

The award, named for the late Prof. Bill Lankford [English 1977–83], recognizes accomplishment in both history and literature and is given to students with outstanding academic records and strong potential for further achievement.  

My thesis focused on analyzing artist-intellectuals' representations of marginal subjects, such as shantytown residents, during the Pinochet dictatorship,” Flavia says. In particular, she explored the work and reception of an artist-activist group named CADA (Colectivo Acciones de Arte), whose visual and performance pieces questioned the rule of General Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator who seized power in a 1973 coup secretly backed by the CIA.

Previous scholarship on CADA “[celebrated] their anti-dictatorial politics,” according to Flavia’s advisor, Prof. David Garrett [history 2000-], even though “the works of CADA have privileged the silencing and suffering of the middle-class intellectual.”

“Bortoleto's thesis highlighted both how the scholarship on CADA generally ignores the very active resistance to the dictatorship from segments of society outside the intellectual avant-garde,” Prof. Garrett wrote in a letter nominating Flavia for the Lankford award, and demonstrates how “these avant-garde works affirm the bourgeoisie as the true victims of the dictatorship and marginalize the political consciousness and the suffering of working-class and marginal groups.”

Flavia was surprised to receive the Lankford award. “It came as a complete shock to me, as I was unaware Reed even gave awards for theses,” she told us. “I walk away from the thesis experience feeling touched by both the intellect and humility of the Reed faculty. Any momentary insight found in my thesis is entirely a result of them, and also the remarkable guidance and patience of my thesis advisor, David Garrett.”

So what’s next for Flavia? She’s looking at graduate programs and is “pretty eager to jump back into academics again,” she said.

Tags: The Reed Thesis, Awards & Achievements