Mapuche People in Chilean History Textbooks: Producing Otherness from the Beginnings of the Nation State

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Andrea RIEDEMANN FUENTES, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile
Indigenous peoples have always occupied a special position in Latin American nations history, being subject of multiple representations linked to changing interests concerning national identity. This is true also for Chile, where mapuche people, the largest indigenous group of this country, have been oppressed through many different political decisions at least during the last 130 years. Inside of the school system, chilean textbooks for public schools – which have been produced or distributed by the ministry of education since midst of the 19th century- have permanently reproduced negative stereotypes of mapuche people, thus contributing to their marginalization and the long lasting conflict between mapuche people, the chilean state and forestry companies installed in ancient mapuche territories. The paper presents a long term analysis of a sample of history textbooks, produced from 1846 to 2016, based on critical discourse analysis. The main findings are three: first, during the second half of 19th century, public discourses about mapuche people – present in historiography, literature, parlament and press- were of much more influence than the guidelines suggested by the nascent curriculum. Second, the chilean state´s interest concerning mapuche territory evidently influenced the changing representations of mapuche people: the representations shifted from “brave warriors” (agains the spaniards) to “wild” and “barbarian”; later, when their land was occupied and the people “pacified”, to “true chilean race”, and finally, to “indigenous peoples”. Third, there is something that never changed: mapuche people were always included in the narration of chilean history in a discontinous way, thus failing to recognize them as historical subjects. Chilean history textbooks have been producing otherness for too many years, missing so far the chance to be a mediation and reconciliation tool.