Rethinking national identities : representations of the Mapuche and dominant discourses of nationhood in twentieth century Chile
Existing scholarship has tended to exclude Chile from studies of indigenismo in Latin America, on the basis that it has not experienced the same history of ethnic conflict as other countries in the region. My doctoral thesis challenges this consensus, highlighting various discursive manifestations of such a conflict in twentieth-century Chile, and investigating the successive attempts of intellectuals and state institutions to redefine the place of indigenous cultures within Chilean nationhood. Located within the theoretical study of nationalism and national identity the thesis explores the way in which dominant images of "Chilean-ness" and "Mapuche-ness" have changed during the twentieth century, particularly since the 1960s. It illustrates how divergent identity discourses competed with one another, underlining both the presence of indigenista narratives and the way in which these have been incorporated into, but often subverted by, dominant representations of chilenidad. Examining a wide range of materials linked to key sites of nation building in Chile - historiography, education, museums and literature - it seeks to demonstrate the fluid nature of both Mapuche and Chilean identity discourses. My thesis traces the emergence of a minority (Mapuche) nationalism that has sought to counter and invalidate official state nationalism. However, it also aims to illustrate the limitations of the standard interpretations of ethnic politics in the country, which either portray the Mapuche as a people fighting heroically against state repression, or reduce their struggle to nostalgic idealism and claim as inevitable the assimilation of Mapuche culture into "Chilean-ness". Throughout the twentieth century the Mapuche have been actively engaged with the state, often opposing its ideological underpinnings, but also negotiating with them. Indeed, many Mapuche have worked as part of the state apparatus, trying to carve out a place for their people within rather than outside national imaginings. The Chilean experience thereby provides a largely unexplored case study of the conflictive process of reconstructing ethnic and national identities, within a framework of debates about the roles of history, memory and culture in nation-building.