Current Institutional Affiliation
Visiting Assistant Professor, History, Macalester College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Maryland
Mapuche Political Culture from the Late Spanish Empire to the Early Republic: Territory, Ritual, and Power, 1793-1862

Unlike many indigenous groups in the Americas, the seminomadic Mapuche of southern Chile and the Argentine Pampas resisted conquest and incorporation by the Spanish imperial and national states until the late nineteenth century. My dissertation asks how and why conflicting cultural and economic uses of space shaped Mapuche kinship groups' ability to maintain their territorial autonomy for centuries. By drawing insights from geography, ethnohistory, and Spanish borderlands studies, I focus on how treaty negotiations known as parlamentos, political alliances, and kinship organization illuminate Mapuche, Chilean, and Spanish expressions of power through symbolic and material appropriations of land. Specifically, I explore how the Mapuche exercised control over land and dictated the physical, economic, and cultural boundaries of their world to outsiders from a 1793 parlamento until Chile began its military campaign against the Mapuche in 1862.Though independence reconfigured these alliances, it did not result in the physical incorporation of the Mapuche-controlled territory into Chile. Chilean and Argentinian independence, I argue, created new opportunities for the rise of powerful Mapuche territorial units capable of allying with and opposing the nation states. I suggest that these new forms of Mapuche kinship organization that drew from non-Mapuche conceptions of land changed substantially in the transition from Spanish Empire to Chilean national state.