About the Project

“Los de Chacabuco”, a group created and directed by Ángel Parra.
Chacabuco concentration camp

For many prisoners in political detention and torture centres in Chile between 1973 and 1990, to write, play or listen to music were ways to register, process, remember, forget or transcend difficult experiences.

Music helped them to maintain a sense of normality, it was a tool to preserve dignity and hope, to have fun and communicate with other inmates and with the outside world.

The repressive system also employed music as a form of domination and indoctrination, and in connection with torture and other types of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Cantos Cautivos (Captive Songs) is a digital archive that compiles testimonies of individual and collective musical experiences in political detention and torture centres in Chile under Pinochet.

This participatory initiative seeks to contribute to the historical memory of the dictatorship and to ongoing debates and research on human rights violations in other historical and geographical contexts.

This is a not-for-profit project, and adheres to the ethics statements of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the British Forum for Ethnomusicology.

Conceptualised by Katia Chornik, at its inception it was developed in collaboration with the Chilean Museum of Memory and Human Rights as part of her research “Sounds of Memory: Music and Political Captivity in Pinochet's Chile”, hosted by the University of Manchester between 2013 and 2016.

We are grateful to those who have shared their stories, and to the following volunteers: Nayive Ananías, Sergio Araya, Miguel Ángel Bravo, Luis Cifuentes, Rodrigo Cifuentes, Marcelo Coulon, Pascal Coulon, Felipe Farías Pereira, Aitor Fernández, Laura Jordán, Julio Laks, Ernesto Parra, Thomas Schmidt and Marcos Stuardo.

To see the testimonies in the project, please click here.


Dr Katia Chornik, director and editor
Hernán Theiler, software design and development
Núria Bonet, sub-editor
Héctor Muñoz Cantos, researcher

Advisory Board

Prof Caroline Bithell (University of Manchester)
Prof Suzanne Cusick (New York University)
Daniel Díaz Vera (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile / University of Manchester)
Dr Rosalía Martínez (Université Paris 8 / Centre de Recherches en Ethnomusicologie)
Dr J. Patrice McSherry (Long Island University / Universidad de Santiago)
Ed Vulliamy (The Observer / The Guardian)

This project has received funding from: