Home Institution

Cornell University

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


In recent decades the world has seen a backlash of resistance, especially among First Nations and indigenous populations, to what some characterize as new forms of colonization: the development of globalization, and the spread of neoliberal economic institutions and their guiding principles (Vanden 2007). This work locates the social movements of the Mapuche (an indigenous nation conquered by the Chilean army in 1883), and especially their pursuance of land recovery and territorial sovereignty, among the many such mobilizations occurring in Latin America, including the Zapatista movement in Mexico, the organizing of indigenous groups in Bolivia and the CONAIE (Confederación de Nacionalidades Indigenas del Ecuador, or Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador).

Through an ethnographic field investigation including elements of research, interviews, and participant observation, during a two-week period I examined the concepts of resistance and territory of people living in two Mapuche communities (Maquehue and Llaguepulli, both located in the 9th region of Chile, Araucania), and their attitudes towards the use of land recoveries as a method of resistance. The results of the investigation were interpreted through the lens of Hollander and Einwohner’s (2004) work on a typology of resistance, as well as through Victor Toledo Llancaqueo’s (2006) theory on the link between the territorial concepts of the Mapuche worldview and their pursuance of political sovereignty.

This comparison illuminated the many depths and definitions of the concepts of resistance and territory, as well as the transcultural processes at work behind differentiating the two communities. I discuss the presence of several types of resistance as categorized by Hollander and Einwohner, in addition to a conceptualization that they did not include in their typology, which could be characterized most closely by the concept of everyday resistance for the purpose of cultural preservation. I then arrive at a final conclusion regarding the use of land recovery as a resistance tactic: that its efficacy and depth as resistance are based on the territorial concepts of the community recovering the land.


Community-Based Research | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Growth and Development | Inequality and Stratification | Latin American Studies | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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