Educational Mobility Experiences of Mapuche Indigenous People, Who Are First Generation University Students

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Denisse SEPULVEDA, The University of Manchester, United Kingdom
My research is centred on how social mobility transitions impact on the racial and class cultures of Mapuche indigenous people in Chile with higher education, and how these affect their identities. My methodological goal is to examine the role of social mobility discourses of the Mapuche (indigenous people), producing narratives of inequalities legitimisation and ethnic discrimination.

For that reason, the methodological perspective is qualitative and I am focusing on the university and works experience of my interviewees. I conducted 40 life histories. The sample were women and men that identify as Mapuche people between 21 and 59 years old and were the first generation that attended university.

Mapuche population is characterized as a disadvantaged group, because since the period of the Spanish conquest, indigenous groups in Chile have faced economic, social, territorial, cultural inequalities, positioning unequal to the rest of the population. Moreover, the proportion of indigenous people who complete their higher education is less than a third of the proportion of non-indigenous people in the same situation (INE, 2002). However, an emergent group of Mapuche population have experienced social mobility, thanks to integration policies for indigenous population from the 1990s until now. Nevertheless, preliminary data suggest that they deal with class tensions, ethnic boundaries and racism.

The data suggest that there is a re-signification of Mapuche identity, as the interviewees are trying to construct or find a new identity from a non-traditional Mapuche position, because they are the first generation who attend university. On the other hand, the data suggest that migration play an important role related to the identity formation, because according the place they born, grew up and how their trajectories were developing, their identities and experiences are changing in terms of authenticity, discrimination, class identification, gender relation and their relation with the Mapuche culture.