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Denise Tala Diaz, Ph.D. is a 2020 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dr. Denise Tala at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Laurien Alexandre, Committee Chair, Dr.Jean-Luc Brackelaire, Committee Member, Dr. Elizabeth Holloway, Committee Member

Dissertation Committee

  • Laurien Alexandre, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Elizabeth Holloway, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Jean-Luc Brackelaire, Ph.D., Committee Member


Leadership, Socio-Political Development, Critical Consciousness, Sense of Agency, Civic Engagement, Social Responsibility, Transgenerational Trauma, Historical Trauma Intergenerational Dialogue, Collective Identity, Collective Memory, Collective Grief

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This dissertation illuminates how the experience of growing up during the Chilean dictatorship (1973–1990) affected the individual's sense of self as citizen and the impact on their sense of democratic agency, civic-mindedness, and political engagement in their country's current democracy. To understand that impact, the researcher chose to study her own generation, the “Pinochet-era” generation (Cummings, 2015) and interviewed those who were part of the Chilean middle class, who despite not being explicit victims of perpetrators, were raised in dictatorship and surrounded by abuse of state power including repression, disappearance, and imprisonment. The theoretical frame of the Socio-Political Development Theory (Watt, Williams, & Jagers, 2003) helped to understand the process that participants went through and how they moved from an A-Critical Stage, with a complete absence of awareness and understanding about what was happening in their world at the time of the coup d’Etat, to a stage of critical consciousness surrounded by empathy for those who were suffering human rights violations which were the main drivers to latter participate in a liberation process. This development of a critical consciousness was influenced—among others—by specific family and social context which promoted transgenerational (Uwineza & Brackelaire, 2014) and intergenerational dialogue (Reyes, Cornejo, Cruz, Carrillo, & Caviedes, 2015) processes, where values, heritage, and ways of acting were transmitted. The narrative approach helped to elicit stories about participants’ life events from the coup d’Etat to present. Through the exploration of 15 narrative interviews it was also possible to collect participants’ memories and observe how they currently manifest their civic commitment and social responsibility. Their collective memory, influenced by a collective grief (Metraux, 2005b), still lingers over 40 years later and helps us to understand their life-long commitment and passion to fight for justice. This generation was part of a social movement that managed to set aside its political and economic divides and its personal self-interests with the collective goal of restoring democracy. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, and Ohiolink ETD Center,



Denise Tala, Ph.D.

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0003-1458-6287

Denise Tala Diaz is originally from Chile. She spent her childhood and adolescence in Santiago, Chile’s capital, during Pinochet’s military regime. In her 20s she pursued her major in Sociology, in a time when the social sciences were considered subversive and dangerous for the military dictatorship. She has lived in different cities in the world such as Johannesburg, Seoul, Brussels, Los Angeles, California and Paris, where she encountered different people, realities and cultures, which allowed her to develop an understanding of social phenomena from a global point of view. She is currently a professor at the EDC Paris Business School for the Master Grande Ecole and also at the Business School of University of Chile in Santiago. She has worked for the private and public sector and has more than 15 years of experience in consulting, social and market research in different fields. She holds a Master of Arts in Communication from Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, a Master of Commerce from Witwatersrand University in South Africa and also both a PHD and a Master of Arts in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. She lives in Thomery, France and enjoys playing piano, traveling with her family and visiting “French brocantes” where the objects she buys have a story to tell.