Dr Helia López Zarzosa
Published: 7 Oct 2016
Helia López Zarzosa, sociologist and a former refugee from Chile. Most of her life as practitioner and scholar is embedded in the ‘refugee cycle’. Her lived experiences as asylum seeker, refugee, returnee and failed returnee are against the background of the political and social transformation processes in Chile. These experiences have informed and shaped her practitioner and scholarly life. As founding headmistress of a Saturday School for Chilean refugee families in London in the 1980s, she gained enough insights for her M.A. dissertation ‘The Politics of Complementary Education: The experience of a Chilean Saturday School in London’ (1991). Her work with the children of returnee families in Concepción, Chile informed her research ‘La Problemática de la Adaptación Escolar en los Hijos/as de las Familias Retornadas en la VIII Región’ (FASIC 1995). After her failed return she voiced that experience in ‘Internal Exile, Exile and Return: A Gendered View (JRS, 1998). Lopez doctoral research Chilean Voluntary Repatriation, 1978-2002: How Voluntary, How Gendered and How Classed?(2011)presented empirical findings that highlighted the explanations for her own failed return. That research opened the avenues for her current research project on refugees in Chile provisionally entitled ‘Protected and Resettled? Asylum Seekers and Refugees in post-conflict Chile in an era of the ‘global refugee’.