DPhil Student Spotlight: Valentina Infante Batiste

DPhil Student Spotlight: Valentina Infante Batiste

Valentina started her DPhil in 2018 under the supervision of Professor Leigh Payne. Before joining the Department, Valentina studied an MA in Cultural Heritage Studies, and worked as a guide for the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Chile. She is a member of Jesus College.


Image of Valentina Infante Batiste

Why do you study Sociology?

I chose sociology because I was interested in studying the sociological factors that enabled (or hindered) memorialisation in Chile and other transitional justice contexts worldwide.

What first attracted you to the course at Oxford?

What attracted me most about the course and the Department was my supervisor, Professor Leigh Payne.

She is a leading expert in transitional justice, and I admired her contributions regarding the study of reparations, guarantees of non-repetition, justice, truth-seeking, and memorialisation in countries affected by dictatorial regimes in their recent past.

I was also attracted by the Department’s international atmosphere and world-class academic research.

What is your research about? 

My thesis investigates the conditions that explain the survival of pro-dictatorship memorialisation in democratic Chile (1990 – 2020).

A pro-dictatorship memory site is a monument, memorial or symbolic marker (e.g. a street name) built to celebrate a past authoritarian government.

In Chile, these sites either praise the military coup of 11th of September 1973, glorify General Augusto Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship (1973 – 1990), or celebrate Military Junta members and civil collaborators.

The results highlight the continued relevance of veto players in the maintenance of pro-dictatorship memorialisation. The findings also emphasise the prominence of civil society in advancing both their survival and elimination.

Who is your academic hero?

Professor Steve Stern. He is a historian who has written extensively about Chile’s dictatorship and the memory struggles regarding its recent past.

What have you enjoyed most about studying within Oxford's Sociology department?

What I have enjoyed most about being a student here is the opportunity to learn new methodological techniques. In my case, I have learned Qualitative Comparative Analysis.

What do you enjoy the most about living in Oxford?

College life. I will definitely miss international dinners, dinner exchanges, Wine & Cheese events, and Bops!

What piece of advice would you give to prospective students?

I would advise them to apply the three “Ps”: be Patient, Persistent, and Purposeful.

To succeed in your DPhil (and enjoy the process), you have to be patient because, in the beginning, your rewards will look like they are very far away.

You have to be persistent because you will encounter setbacks and frustration - that is part of the game.

And you have to be purposeful, that is, always keep yourself motivated and determined, because you deserve your spot at Oxford and are the most expert person on your topic.

What do you hope to do when you finish your course?

I plan to continue in the academic world by doing a postdoc and publishing my thesis.

Favourite Book?

My favourite book is George Orwell’s 1984. Every time I read it again, I find new parallels with our current reality.

You can get in touch with Valentina via email.