Dictatorship, neoliberalism, and natural law: constitutionalizing the concept of discrimination in Chile (1973 – 1980)

As the concept of discrimination acquired increasingly acquired social meaning and political legitimacy, many have deemed necessary to include it, define it, and employ it in constitutional and other fundamental legal documents. The conceptual history of discrimination can be fruitfully approached through the study of constitutional and other legal materials with the aim to find in them concrete contexts of employment of this concept that we can arrange diachronically, in order to give us an idea of its variations through space and time. In this presentation, which is a first step in this perspective, I will explore a paradoxical and counterintuitive process: the constitutionalization of the concept of discrimination during the civic-military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet, a process that shows how the constitutional definition of a concept hinges on the particular set of political and social forces that stands behind a specific constitutional text and its continuous application.