On June 10, 2017, Luis Marileo, a Mapuche activist, was killed in a dispute with the owner of a large estate and former official of the Carabineros, the Chilean national police. Some press accounts described this event as a “failed robbery,” while others maintained that the Mapuche youth sought only dialogue over a lost horse.1 Luis Marileo was first arrested at sixteen under antiterrorist legislation for allegedly setting fire to a bus. Although he was a minor, he was imprisoned for seven months and ultimately released for lack of evidence, only to be imprisoned again on a different charge. For those on the Right, Marileo was a repeat offender whose criminal record is ample evidence of the threat the Mapuche pose to the rule of law. For Mapuche community members and their allies, Marileo is yet another casualty of settler colonialism in Mapuche lands, or Wallmapu. Mapuche historian Claudio Alvarado Lincopi notes that it is emblematic of the Chilean state’s approach to Mapuche communities that the school where Marileo studied at the time of his first arrest has now been turned into a police base. What is beyond debate is the fact that since the return of democracy to Chile, governments of the Left and Right have used antiterrorist legislation to confront Mapuche protests. Writing the day after this death, Alvarado Lincopi observed: “Luis Marileo was murdered yesterday, but the bullet that killed him was shot a long time before. It was shot when the Concertación governments (currently, Nueva Mayoría) and the Right chose to criminalize the Mapuche movement, chose to scar with fire the lives of Mapuche children and youth.”2 Starting with the use by the government of socialist Ricardo Lagos Escobar of Pinochet’s antiterrorism law against the Mapuche political group Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM) in 2002, the militarization of southern Chile has criminalized Mapuche claims over their ancestral territories, constitutional recognition, and autonomy.3
As the works under review demonstrate, recent iterations of oppression against the Mapuche people are part of a longer history of Spanish, Chilean, and Argentine colonialism that started with the occupation of Wallmapu. Prior to Spanish invasions in 1541, the historical territories of the Mapuche people encompassed what today are the provinces of Buenos Aires, Chubut, Río Negro, and Neuquén in Argentina (Puwel Mapu, Eastern territories); and between Santiago and the island of Chiloé in Chile (Gülu Mapu, Western territories).4 Classic studies on the history of Mapuche anticolonial resistance such as those by Sergio Villalobos or José Bengoa have conceptualized this history as one that moves from Spanish colonialism to liberal inclusion through processes of “assimilation” to national societies. In them, the Mapuche are problematically figured as the historical antecedent of Chilean and Argentine national societies.5 However, as we note below, Mapuche scholars have argued convincingly that colonialism is the condition of possibility for the Chilean and Argentine liberal states because it requires both states to reproduce changing forms of violence and extraction against Mapuche societies.
The books under review propose varied approaches to the field of Mapuche studies through different historical and geographical contexts. While these books foreground the relationships between the Chilean nation-state and the Mapuche nation, they also consider innovative historiographical accounts of Spanish and Argentine colonialisms and explore overlooked intersections of feminism, capital accumulation, shamanism, Mapuche internationalism, sound studies, and diaspora studies, among many others. Joanna Crow surveys the historical complexities of Mapuche struggle with the Chilean nation-state as represented by Mapuche and Chilean cultural and intellectual production from 1860 to 2010 to analyze the meanings of being Mapuche in modern Chile. The Comunidad de Historia Mapuche’s two volumes of essays offer an impressive collection of works by Mapuche researchers that brilliantly illuminate questions of oppression and resistance between the Spanish Crown, the Chilean and Argentine nation-states, and the Mapuche people across time. Finally, Ana Mariella Bacigalupo collaborates with machi Francisca Kolipi, Mapuche spiritual and political leader, to write a shamanic “bible” wherein Mapuche shamanic history-making, spirituality, power, political economy, ecology, literacy, and culture are indivisibly related as well as studied. In different and powerful ways, these works present useful paths for the articulation of conventional academic approaches with the otros saberes that are produced within, outside, and through archives, communities, cultural production, and spiritual practices.
The Long Twentieth Century of Mapuche-State Contention
In The Mapuche in Modern Chile, cultural historian Joanna Crow offers what seems at first blush a conventional and chronological account of the relationships between “Mapuche identities and Chilean national identities” to analyze “how the Mapuche people have challenged dominant national imaginaries in Chile, but also how they have participated in the construction of these imaginaries” (10). Crow’s approach moves through different periods and registers as, for example, she explores the cultural, military, scientific, and educational discourses about the occupation of Mapuche territories during the second half of the nineteenth century to the neoliberal multiculturalism of the Concertación coalition in 2010. Building on Florencia Mallon’s work, Crow explains that the archives of Mapuche and Chilean cultural and intellectual production reveal the “highly complex, shifting relationship in which Mapuche actors and the state each ‘end up embedded in each other’” (213).6 A focus on “images and words” serves to query the ways Mapuche and winka (non-Indigenous) Chileans have made sense of nation and identity construction as well as the relations of power subtending cultural and intellectual production and their understandings (5). Moreover, she clarifies that a cultural history of the Mapuche people deciphers meaning rather than causality; thus her objective is to analyze historically “what it has meant and means ‘to be Mapuche’ in modern Chile” (9). Like José Bengoa’s Historia del pueblo Mapuche, Crow is concerned with the ways Mapuche intellectuals, activists, politicians, and artists have sought to influence Chilean civil society, the state, and the nation. In this rich book, Crow makes two key contributions.
First, she examines the individual trajectories of key Mapuche intellectuals that allow the reader to understand Mapuche (trans)national engagements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. For example, the remarkable contrasting lives of Manuel Manquilef González (1887–1950) and Manuel Aburto Panguilef (1887–1952), two of the most important post-occupation Mapuche intellectuals, reveal the imbrications of aesthetics and politics in Mapuche politics. Manquilef published ethnographies about Mapuche culture and utilized the Mapuche political organization Sociedad Caupolican to “demand access to education as a fundamental right to all citizens” so the Mapuche people could “make use of the literacy and knowledge gained through education to defend their dignity as an independent people” (65). Aburto Panguilef did not publish but kept an immense political and personal diary and created the Sociedad de Protección Mutua Araucana, wherein he started the Compañía Dramática Araucana to practice theater and performance.7 Aburto Panguilef’s company toured around southern and central Chile, not only “recontextualizing the ‘ancient customs’” of Mapuche culture but bringing Mapuche history and cultural production “to life for people, who in Aburto’s words, previously ‘had no idea about the Mapuche’” (72). Manuel Manquilef entertained ideas of political “fusion” during the process of Chilean nation building to contest the elite’s ideology of Indigenous annihilation. In a different avenue and supported by social movements and the Communist Party of Chile, Manuel Aburto Panguilef proposed the República Indígena in 1931 to not only recuperate “those lands that had been illegally usurped since the ‘pacification,’ but also Mapuche ancestral lands” (77).
Another complex political figure is Mapuche congressman Venancio Coñuepan Huenchual, who sheds light on the hemispheric history of development and indigenismo. Focusing on his participation in the Primer Congreso Indigenista Interamericano in Mexico (1940), Crow suggests that Mexican postrevolutionary indigenismo laterally influenced the design of Indigenous developmentalist policy in Chile during the 1940s as well as in Coñuepan’s political strategy (101–104). Crow highlights Venancio Coñuepan’s international interests on Indigenous politics by examining his awareness of Indigenous struggles in the United States in the 1940s, especially the so-called “Indian New Deal,” the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt, which he viewed as a model for national development (105).
Second, Crow provides new insights into the well-known tensions between leftist class-based movements and Mapuche grassroots organizations in the 1960s and 1970s. Examining the conflicts within leftist and center-leftist political imaginaries of Mapuche struggle during demócrata cristiano Eduardo Frei Montalva’s government (1964–1970) and socialist Salvador Allende’s Unidad Popular (1970–1973), Crow claims “that Mapuche cultural difference became increasingly visible during these heady years, despite, in conjunction with, or indeed sometimes as a direct result of, government initiatives” (118). Her investigation of the Unidad Popular’s agrarian reform and relationship with the Mapuche people complements the recent and growing historiography on peasant movements, Mapuche organizations, and the Chilean socialist revolution.8 Examining the work of anthropologist Alejandro Lipschutz and his involvement in the drafting of the 1971 Indigenous law, she notes that some on the Left, like Lipschutz, acknowledged “the way in which cultural and racial factors impacted upon economic and class structures” (139).
Nevertheless, not all on the Chilean Left were able to reckon with the roots of dispossession and violence against the Mapuche nation. Class analysis was often blind to the Chilean state’s constitutive colonial violence. The consequent imposition of extremely racist forms of neoliberal extraction, precarization, and oppression against the Mapuche during Pinochet’s dictatorship and its democratic aftermath illustrate how coloniality is reproduced despite the ideological orientations of the regimes of Left or Right. It is only recently that colonialism as an adapting and historical technology of political, economic, social, cultural, and religious power against Indigenous peoples utilized by empires and nation-states has been fully integrated and theorized in studies about the interactions between the Mapuche nation and the Chilean and Argentine nation-states.
“To Think Ourselves Collectively through Different Forms”: Mapuche Collaborations
Fortunately, the Comunidad de Historia Mapuche (CHM) has contributed in a brilliant variety of ways to the scholarship about the Mapuche people as they propose to build “Mapuche histories and memories” that contribute to “a critical interrogation and dismantling of [ongoing] colonialism” (Ta iñ fijke, 15). The CHM is a diverse collective of Mapuche activists, scholars, and intellectuals who “humanly, politically, and intellectually” collaborate “with the struggles and perspectives of the Mapuche people.”9 In 2012, CHM independently published its first volume of essays, Ta iñ fijke xipa rakizuameluwün: Historia, colonialismo y resistencia desde el país Mapuche, where they propose “to think ourselves collectively through different forms” as the title of the collection suggests in Mapuzugun, the Mapuche language (15). For the Comunidad de Historia Mapuche, rakizuameluwün is the collective self-reflection about “being Mapuche” (mapucegen) in ways that acknowledge the oppression of racist and colonialist structures in their political and intellectual production. Ta iñ fijke rakizuameluwün (to think ourselves collectively through difference) becomes the means to question the “colonial phenomenon” of occupation, dispossession, and precarization, as well as to highlight forms of resurgence, adaptation, negotiation, and resistance of Mapuche ontologies and epistemologies against Spanish, Argentine, Chilean, and global extractive capitalism (16–21). In this extremely rich collection, the CHM revisits the border politics of the Spanish crown and Mapuche nation during the eighteenth century, foregrounds the presence of enslaved Mapuche families in fin-de-siècle Parisian ethnological laboratories, meticulously discusses the growing Mapuche literary production, and studies the complex uses and appropriations of Mapuche medicine by the Chilean state. Because of their creative interventions in Mapuche scholarship and Indigenous studies, we might make special mention of the work by Enrique Antileo Baeza’s (“Migración Mapuche y continuidad colonial”), Margarita Calfio Montalva (“Peküyen”), and Luis Cárcamo-Huechante and Elías Paillan Coñuepan (“Taiñ pu amulzugue egvn: Sonidos y voces del Wajmapu en el aire”).
Enrique Antileo argues for an understanding of Mapuche migration that troubles reductionist demographic accounts and turns to consider migration as colonial processes of displacement and dislocation with social, economic, cultural, and epistemological consequences. In order to study the Mapuche migration to Chilean cities after the military occupation of Mapuche territories in the late nineteenth century, Antileo argues that the distinction between rural and urban Mapuche is not sufficient. This rubric does not capture how Mapuche rural and urban spaces are structured and mediated by colonialism, capitalism, and the Chilean state in ways that frame rural Mapuche identities as static, and urban Mapuche communities as fully assimilated in the Chilean nation. Therefore, Antileo studies Mapuche migration as diaspora because this allows a “political reading about migration that is grounded on history,” as well as “to redefine many elements that are in relation with discourses of identity and nation” (197).10 Thus, he moves to consider Mapuche diasporic subjects in constant negotiation with the different forms of colonialism and racism that are reproduced in Chilean cities. Enrique Antileo explains that this negotiation is productive: Mapuche diasporic subjects are able to think of different forms of return to and recuperation of ancestral Mapuche territories from discourses “of nation formation that include the dissimilar realities of Mapuche diaspora” since this positionality does not privilege an abstracted, static, and traditional Mapuche identity and politics (203).
Margarita Calfio Montalva brings a stimulating enunciation of decolonial thought in “Peküyen” (The moon is looking at you) by exploring how colonialism acts on the bodies of Mapuche women. Analyzing the intimacies of pain, guilt, pathologization, and alienation on Mapuche sexuality, Calfio investigates the competing cultural meanings of menstruation for Mapuche women. With testimonies from a diverse group of Mapuche women, she exposes how threads of memories and social knowledge about women’s bodies are constantly interrupted by Western morality. Contemporary testimonies of trauma and alienation are contrasted with European travelers’ and ethnographers’ chronicles that documented community and familial celebrations of Mapuche women’s bodies as well as the acceptance the Mapuche society had of women’s autonomous sexuality during pre-occupation Wallmapu (294–298). Finally, Calfio invites the reactivation of the ties the Mapuche celebrated between the moon, earth, and menstrual blood that used to mediate the cycles of mapucegen (being Mapuche) as forms to deracialize the body and struggle against Western morality and guilt (299–300).
Luis Cárcamo-Huechante and Elías Paillan Coñuepan focus on the intersections of Mapuche cultural production, colonialism, and media studies in “Taiñ pu amulzugue egvn: Sonidos y voces del Wajmapu en el aire” to understand how Mapuche activists have challenged “acoustic colonialism” in the Chilean post-dictatorship. They study the bilingual radio show Wixage anai! (Wake up and rise up) as an example of Mapuche politics of culture that seek to “agitate and mobilize, [and create] a rebellious call to wake up and rise up” through radio waves (342–343). Cárcamo-Huechante and Paillan Coñuepan show how Wixage anai! emerged during the contradictory period of neoliberal multicultural policies created by the Concertación governments in the early 1990s, along with other Mapuche radio shows, “to articulate a Mapuche communicational practice informed by a sense of cultural and political autonomy” (344). Wixage anai! practiced a decolonization of acoustic space and cultural production as it utilized Mapuzugun to discuss cultural and territorial autonomy, politics, history, and presented interviews with Mapuche activists. The show created a communal space in the heavily monopolized and privately owned Chilean radio stations and defied the spatial segregation of the Mapuche people through radio waves by bringing together Mapuche folk across different geographies from Santiago to Temuco, from the Pacific coast to the Andes and even Bariloche, Argentina.
In 2015, the Comunidad de Historia Mapuche published its second book, Awükan ka kuxankan zugu Wajmapu mew: Violencias coloniales en Wajmapu, edited by Antileo Baeza, Cárcamo-Huechante, Margarita Calfio Montalva, and Herson Huinca-Piutrin. Following on their previous intervention, the Comunidad takes on the task of thinking the “colonial phenomenon” from the historical experience of the Mapuche nation, yet not forgetting colonialism’s own global currency. To do so, the authors in Awükan ka kaxankan develop historiographical approaches around kuxankan (“violence” in Mapuzugun) to analyze the political, economic, cultural, and social forms colonialism takes to oppress and mediate the Mapuche people, their ancestral territories, epistemologies, and ontologies from the Spanish colonial bureaucracy to the Chilean post-dictatorial governments. The Comunidad de Historia Mapuche pushes us to think how colonial violence against the Mapuche people has not only dispossessed them of ancestral territories, but also the ways dispossession and colonial violence reshape Mapuche “forms of being and living in the world” (18). CHM’s innovative coupling of dispossession and colonial violence point at the processes that continuously sustain emerging forms of domination against the Mapuche nation as well as the forms of resistance the Indigenous society employs. Consequently, the forms of dispossession and violence they are theorizing urge us to think of territory not as merely land or physical space but as mapu: as the totality of Mapuche social space. In this way, the volume studies “systems of patriarchal domination … that ‘rule’ familial/collective life following masculinist and heterosexist norms,” in conversation with the racist processes of urbanization in Chile, or state terrorism during Pinochet’s dictatorship, as instantiations of colonial violence and forms of social dispossession (19).
Jimena Pichinao Huenchuleo’s chapter (“La mercantilización del Mapuche Mapu [tierras Mapuche]: Hacia la expoliación absoluta”) contributes to contemporary Marxist accounts of dispossession by exposing the processes of neoliberal extraction in Mapuche territories since Pinochet’s dictatorship. She understands the concept of primitive accumulation not as a stage in the unfolding of global capitalism but rather as “a continuous process that systematically reinforces changing capitalist relations” on “the Mapuche and Indigenous peoples today and impoverished rural societies too.”11 She explains that an awareness of permanent primitive accumulation helps the Mapuche to “interpellate and confront [not only] the nation-state” but also “to those who possess mercantile power” (91). Pichinao Huenchuleo makes evident that global capitalism, as much as it produces class domination to conform social relations, always functions as a racializing force as it socially necessitates the creation of racial and gendered forms of global power. To illustrate this, she draws attention to Pinochet’s executive orders during the first years of the neoliberal dictatorship. She shows that these executive orders fragmented legal and economic notions of land to destroy Indigenous communal property, created and protected nonconsumptive water rights to benefit future hydroelectric plants, and economically incentivized the destruction of native forests for the development of industrial forestry with invasive pine plantations.12 These actions further dispossessed Mapuche communities, since the dislocation of the Mapuche understanding of the earth as kisuelay ta mapu (no space is isolated) was necessary to continue a more radical extraction and accumulation of capital that directly attacks the social practice of kume az mogen (good life) through privatization (98–99).
Ana Vásquez Toloza’s essay (“Expedientes del dolor: Mujeres mapuche en la frontera de la violencia [1900–1950]”) also treats colonial violence beyond commonly discussed notions of economic, political, and cultural dispossession by studying the naturalization of physical and symbolic violence against Mapuche women. Vásquez Toloza argues that the deployment of the Chilean juridical, social, and moral system silenced Mapuche women and confined them to the domestic space. She notes that during this imposition a “patriarchal affiliation” between Chilean and Indigenous men produced new forms of colonial violence against women. “Even though in an inferior position within a colonial structure, Mapuche men found themselves in privileged spaces … where they exercised their power on Mapuche women,” she suggests (145). Indeed, the dismantling of mechanisms to solve conflicts between Mapuche women and men within lofs (Mapuche communities) via the Chilean legal apparatus permitted the normalization of gender violence in the Mapuche domestic space, since the Chilean law excluded Mapuche women (147–148). For this reason, patriarchal society successfully yet differentially affiliated Chilean and Mapuche men through continuous and unpunished acts of violence against Mapuche women.
Studying the alkilan, a specific Mapuche practice involving child labor, Jaime Antimil Caniupan contributes to labor, kinship, and childhood studies. Antimil Caniupan states that the alkilan was one of the social and economic structures the Mapuche society created to survive after the 1880 military occupation. The alkilan was a “contractual mechanism to rent children between families that provided labor for a determined time in exchange for food, housing, and monetary retribution” (161). Employed by the most impoverished Mapuche families to struggle against hunger and unemployment, the alkilan was a heterogeneous system of labor. Although it could racialize and exploit, the alkilan also maintained social bonds between Mapuche families because it provided care for children and kin between communities.
An Anthropological and Shamanic Collaboration
If the Comunidad de Historia Mapuche provides one important example of collaborative decolonial work, Ana Mariella Bacigalupo and machi Francisca Kolipi, Mapuche spiritual and political leader from rural Millali, a community thirteen kilometers from Temuco, offer another. Thunder Shaman: Making History with Mapuche Spirits in Chile and Patagonia, the fruit of years of dialogue and research, defies easy classification; it is a work of anthropology, to be sure, but also a vessel for the shamanic work of Kolipi, who died in 1996. This book provides both an “anthropology of time, agency, and power” that studies machi Francisca’s historical consciousness, and her shamanic “bible” (22). Bacigalupo explains that, in the national imagination, “machi are viewed as lacking historical consciousness since machi are rendered “premodern, nonobjective, irrational, and ahistorical” (7). In contrast to that approach, Bacigalupo suggests that “the machi’s experience of shamanic rebirth; the combination of cyclical and linear histories, temporal dislocation, and multitemporality; and the indissoluble links between spirituality, politics, and ecology challenge positivist, linear notions of history” (8). Thunder Shaman is thus a study of Kolipi’s history and knowledge as sites for “political struggles for decolonization” since it foregrounds machi’s shamanic embodied history, literacy, and political spirituality in their complexity (10).
Among many remarkable feats, this book takes up the multitemporal task of proposing a shamanic philosophy of history through machi embodiment of ancestral spirits as Mapuche shamans draw “from the ‘before time,’ the past, and the future in order to gain control of the present and create a new world” (97). Bacigalupo claims that machi temporality and history-making decolonize teleology and subject formations, because machi embody past subjects to heal the present and protect the future and revise “the collective history of loss and humiliation suffered by all Mapuche” (98). Moreover, not a linear “subaltern discourse about history,” machi history is a collective, affective and decolonial experience of multitemporal healing.
Challenging conventional notions of literacy, Bacigalupo draws on underexplored shamanic forms of writing that are part of Francisca Kolipi’s own “bible.” The anthropologist explains, machi constantly engage “the colonialist power embedded in official documents and Bibles by avoiding, subverting, and exceeding the limits of the state archive in ritual and political ways” (132). Machi’s interest in and production of chillka newen or “words of powerful texts” expand “our understanding of Indigenous grafismo—the secular intersection of orality, performance, and alphabetic script” that assist Mapuche in “spiritual and political ways to challenge the dominance of the state, the church” and Western colonial dominance and rationality (132–133). Thus, as machi Francisca Kolipi’s “bible,” this book performs Indigenous grafismo: “by having [the anthropologist] write her biography using alphabetic script, Francisca also believed she could appropriate the non-Mapuche power, wingka newen, contained in the form of the written word” (141).
Providing an important corrective to much of the strictly materialist work on extractive economies, this book goes beyond accounts of environmental destruction, social dislocations, or labor exploitation to also reckon with the spiritual, cultural, and religious impacts. Machi spiritual consciousness allows a complex ethnography of neoliberal destruction since the cultural, political, economic, social, and spiritual are inextricably connected and damaged by extractive capitalism in Mapuche territories. For example, Bacigalupo argues that Mapuche health is directly affected by eucalyptus and pine industrial plantations since they make land unfarmable, destroy machi’s medicinal herbs, and directly affect Mapuche bodies and spiritual health.
Thus, machi Francisca Kolipi’s bible positions shamanic subjectivities as central to understanding local and global forms of colonialism, literacy, and extractive capitalism in southern Chile. This book contributes in a rich and creative way to expanding rubrics of political subjectivity as, in the case of Francisca Kolipi, the political is exercised through multitemporality, history-making, spirituality, and health.
The books reviewed here offer sophisticated approaches not only to the relationships between the Mapuche people and the Chilean nation-state, but also to understanding Indigenous struggles in global and multitemporal contexts. Taking a long view of nineteenth- and twentieth-century logics that blur the lines between Indians and terrorists in the construction of the “constitutive Others” of Latin American nation-states is the only way one can understand the historical trajectory of bullet that killed Luis Marileo. Opening conventional academic epistemologies to the possibilities of shamanic forces operating through the work of university presses is another example of the great power of Mapuche and Indigenous studies to interrupt the reproduction of colonial forms and practices of dispossession and erasure. Students in Indigenous, postcolonial, and decolonial studies will find innovative conceptual tools that unearth new insights into the intersections of colonialism, extractive capitalism, cultural production, race, gender and sexuality, and Indigenous social movements. Together these works offer an invitation and challenge to scholars of Latin America, Chile, and Indigeneity to investigate the nation-state itself as a colonial process always informed by capitalist dispossession and racist oppression as well as challenged by Indigenous cultural practices, ontologies, politics, and sociality.