Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Sumita Pahwa

Reader 2

Carmen SanJuan Pastor

Rights Information

2021 Lillian A Perlmutter


In Chile and Italy, how did the dictators’ legacies withstand movements to break away from the dictatorial ideology and decades of political and social change? In other words, how did legislation drafted during the Pinochet regime in Chile withstand the deterioration of Pinochet’s public image in the years after the transition, and how did Mussolini’s cult of personality withstand the condemnation of his ideology and agenda in the post-war period in Italy? What is the mechanism that allows a dictator’s public persona to separate from his ideology or legislative record? I argue the mechanism that allowed portions of these dictators’ legacies to be preserved either legislatively or culturally is a type of selective blindness on the part of the transition government tasked with unifying the country once the dictator was out of power. These two cases, and this concept of selective blindness they reveal, could be helpful in anticipating the legacies of other authoritarian or populist leaders if a transition government is not aggressive enough in its efforts to eradicate both a dictator’s institutional and cultural legacy.