Field of Study
Indigenismo and Mapuche Politics in Twentieth Century Chile
Dissertation DescriptionThis dissertation examines the political struggle of the Mapuche, a large indigenous population in Chile, through a transnational lens of Pan-American indigenismo. Broadly conceived, indigenismo can be defined as a collective effort by non-Indians to solve various “Indian Problems” related to inclusion in national cultures, economies and citizenries. In the mid-twentieth century, indigenistas across the Americas contributed to projects that attempted to incorporate Indians into national states with widely variant levels of success. In Chile, Mapuche leaders worked with indigenistas, sometimes adopting their politics, other times altering the broader discourse. My research charts the interaction between indigenistas and Mapuche, through episodes of collaboration, negotiation, coercion and compromise. In the forty-year period between the 1930s and the 1960s, Mapuche politicians and activists refined a strategy of alliance-making to forestall the loss of land and access the powers of the state. At first their allegiances lay with right-wing conservative parties, but by 1970 they had shifted dramatically toward the left of the political spectrum. I seek to understand how indigenistas influenced that transition.