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Ancient lands, contemporary disputes: land restoration and belonging among the Mapuche people of Chile

Di Giminiani, P.; (2011) Ancient lands, contemporary disputes: land restoration and belonging among the Mapuche people of Chile. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis addresses the phenomenon of land restitution among native people, which has emerged as a central issue within the broader context of State-indigenous people relations in the last two decades. By focusing on idioms of land and place among the Mapuche people of Southern Chile, it approaches land restitution as a process in which two different understandings of the meanings associated with ancestral land, one of Mapuche people and the other one of the Chilean State, are brought together. This encounter is characterised by both unresponsive attitudes by functionaries working within the bureaucratic and legal framework and by genuine misunderstandings on the significance of ancestral land for the Mapuche people. More specifically, divergences are centred on the issue of cultural continuity between Mapuche residing in rural communities and the dwellers of the demanded ancestral land. By following the implications of the idiom of tuwün, as the specific geographical location of the origins for each Mapuche person, this thesis illustrates how the significance of ancestral land coexists with ambivalent feelings of distance towards the ancestry. The relation between Mapuche people and their locality is central to the analysis of land claims. In this thesis, the claim made by Mapuche people that their ancestral place of origins is both a given element of the individual and a necessary condition in order to be Mapuche will not be taken as a discursive articulation of identity. Rather, by focusing on both the relation between human and non-human components of the local environment and the significance of the tuwün as a potential determination of Self and Otherness at different levels, the local ethnography will unambiguously point at the salience of the relation between Mapuche residents and their local surroundings.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Ancient lands, contemporary disputes: land restoration and belonging among the Mapuche people of Chile
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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