From the right to be "here" to the obligation to stay put
Anne Lavanchy (University of Applied Sciences)
Paper short abstract:
How does the Chilean Indigenous Law frame the Mapuche relationship to the land? With this question, the paper addresses the ambiguous outcomes of legal recognition.From the right to be "here" to the obligation to stay put
Paper long abstract:
Passed in 1993, the Chilean Indigenous Law recognizes the Mapuche as one of the national indigenous etnia, protecting their culture as well as the "indigenous land" (tierras indígenas). The current determination of indigenous land follow the ones of the Mapuche reserves (títulos de merced) created at the beginning of the 20th century, when the government actively promoted the settlement of European families after the violent incorporation of the Mapuche territories. The Indigenous Law sets the criteria to establish individuals and family so-called indigenous quality. In this context, the expression "indigenous land" designates the parcels of land owned by Mapuche individuals or, in rare cases, Mapuche communities. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the Region of the Biobio, this paper argues that the implementation of the law and its interpretations represent a shift in this relation: if Mapuche, through ownership, pass on the indigenous quality to their land, the land is also considered as a necessity to be a real Mapuche. Then, the land itself seems to pass on the indigenous quality to people dwelling on it. This reversal contributes to the essentialisation of Mapuche identities and the denial of Mapuche practices of mobility: the fact of moving away, often to urban areas to escape poverty and the lack of opportunities, let arise doubts regarding one's authenticity and identity as Mapuche. The legal recognition seems then to draw to a forced immobility.
(Post-)colonial settling and native staying: indigeneity and land rights in the Americas [law net]