Accepted paper:

The morality of being Mapuche: contested epistemologies and shared values in southern Chile


Marcelo Gonzalez Galvez (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)

Paper short abstract:

Different understandings of the impact humans have on the environment, are both promoted and informed by notions of what it means to be a proper person among the Mapuche. Concurrently, personal views on these epistemologies and moral notions are employed in construing contested senses of belonging.

Paper long abstract:

Over the last forty years, the promotion of timber exploitations by the Chilean state has dramatically modified the ecosystem of Provincia de Arauco. At the same time, the extended presence of timber companies has triggered a deep transformation in traditional peasant economies, altering indigenous Mapuche people's entire way of living. In this paper, I intend to explore how these modifications have been both perceived and interpreted by Mapuche people in Elicura, a small rural valley where I have carried out fieldwork since 2009. In doing so, I will follow what seem to be two opposed perceptions, drawing on two respectively dissimilar epistemologies. Subsequently, I will observe how these perceptions appear to converge on a common interpretation of change, which has a notion of 'morality' at its core. Eventually, I will discuss how people use this perceived epistemological difference, and the moral interpretations that stem from it, to propose their own theories of being and belonging that parallel those founded upon a given or constructed relationship with 'a place'. These theories of being and belonging allow 'to assert' and 'to cut' relationships, differentiating between people maintaining contrasting ways of knowing, and uniting them around what seem to be particularly similar conceptions of what can be considered as the proper ways of being.

panel P66
Community, belonging and moral sentiment: is to belong to be a moral person?