Chapter 1 focuses on the Quinta Normal Park, one of the key sites for the Mapuche diaspora in the Chilean capital since the 1960s: the place where indigenous migrants spent their free time, met each other, fell in love and often started their families. The park, deeply connected with family and personal memories and the relationship with both the land of origin in the south and previous generations, is still the location of cultural and political manifestations for urban Mapuche. However, between 1959 and 1960, it was also the ‘field’ for the first ethnographic account of the ‘urban Mapuche’, by the Chilean anthropologist Carlos Munizaga (1961). This chapter plays with these two levels, defying the detached and impersonal ethnographic gaze on indigenous migrants caught in a supposed process of ‘assimilation’ with a claim for a situated and owned history of displacement, but also creative practices of place and self-making. At the end of the chapter, Scene 1 of the play Santiago Waria is reproduced, in which these concerns are translated into theatrical representation. The Interlude ‘From the Quinta to the Colony’, also part of the play, makes the connection with Chapter 2 through time-travelling that brings the reader back and forth between colonial times, the Pinochet dictatorship, and the neoliberal city in 2018.
Chapter 2 focuses on the Plaza de Armas, the main square in downtown Santiago. The site of the first Spanish settlement in Chile, the square is marked by colonial symbols and by an ideology of the ‘foundation’ of the Chilean nation that erases its indigenous and mestizo roots. Moving from an intense debate around the violent yet creative relationship between indigeneity and the city, the chapter plays with the overlapping of times and symbols. The central theme of both the visual and textual elaboration is the recursivity of colonisation, addressed by interrogating the materiality of monuments and landmarks in the square. More specifically, the chapter engages with both colonial symbols such as the statue to the conquistador Pedro de Valdivia and characteristic representations of neoliberal multiculturalism such as the monument in homage to indigenous people. These monumentalities are addressed here by drawing on creative and performative interventions realised in the square in 2018. At the end of the chapter, Scene 2 of Santiago Waria plays with the antagonistic images and imaginations of otherness in the space of the square; while the Interlude ‘From the Colony to the White City’ accompanies the reader to the next chapter/place: the upper-class district.
Chapter 3 focuses on the upper-class sector of Providencia, one of the places where indigenous women have worked when migrating to the capital city, typically employed as housemaids, recently included among those that have been defined as ‘racialised jobs’. Moving from the family experiences of many of the authors of the book, this chapter addresses upper-class neighbourhoods from the indigenous perspective: as places of servitude where colonial power relationships are endlessly reproduced, but also of work, agency and endurance; pain and loss, but also affect. The silent memories of many Mapuche women working in the area are addressed through intimate narratives and the ‘post-memories’ of current younger generations, caught in the ambivalence of these foreign yet familiar spatialities. Drawing on these trajectories and on the spaces inhabited by live-in maids, the chapter analyses domestic labour as a form of social, spatial, and existential ‘reduction’. The chapter finally addresses the contemporary debate about indigenous feminism, its challenges and friction, as well as the need to rethink gender relations in the Mapuche socio-political context. In conclusion, Scene 3 of Santiago Waria enacts a performative memorial to the trajectories of indigenous women in upper-class areas of the city. The Interlude ‘Toward the hill with two names’, guides the reader toward the book’s final chapter and destination, going through protests in the city in the 1990s, migrants’ letters and Mapuche pop music.
Chapter 4 takes place in the Santa Lucía/Welen Hill, whose double name in Spanish and Mapudungun already speaks of the tension embedded in it. Supposedly the place where the capital city was symbolically founded, the hill is the site for the materialisation of many national symbols and landmarks, yet in pre-Hispanic times the hill was an indigenous territorial reference both politically and spiritually. Still today it is one of the key sites for indigenous cultural and political mobilisation within the city. Fitting to both the display and the contestation of national ideologies and processes of racialisation, situated in the heart of Santiago’s city centre, the hill provides an almost 360-degree view of the city from above. In its ambivalence, this site stands as the location for a hybrid, mixed-up (champurria) and contradictory urban indigeneity, one able to ‘stain’, with bodily presence, the simulated ‘whiteness’ of the (post)colonial city. From the heights of the hill, multiple identities and belongings are claimed through fiction, re-enactment and poetry. In the last scene of the play Santiago Waria, the Comandante Boliviano leads utopian re-imaginations of the future, moving from which the chapter discusses the possibility of multiple modernities and broader decolonial and anticolonial stances.
The Afterword positions the book within the contemporary context of the metropolitan city of Santiago, addressing the recent socio-political uprising that hit the country as a whole in October 2019, and the ongoing process of re-writing of the political Constitution that resulted from it. Bringing to the fore a sharp critique of colonial symbols, national identity and neoliberal Chile, the Afterword questions the search for ‘Europeanness’ – in architecture, spatial organisation and urban landmarks – and the related ideology of whiteness embedded in the capital, a city always imagined ‘without indios’. Making a claim instead for a racially mixed and impure city, it highlights the overlapping and exchanges between the MapsUrbe project and the recent ethics and aesthetics of protest enacted during the October 2019 uprisings.
This chapter addresses ways of representing Mapuche within the urban context of Santiago from the positionality of indigenous youths living there. Subjects of migration and diaspora for more than a hundred years, the chapter looks at former generations coming to the city to work in precarious and often racialised jobs. However, even if it acknowledges how contemporary generations are frequently caught in the suffering of this memory, it takes a different stance. Against the grain of this way of building community, a rarely addressed topic is explored: how can one’s own history of migration be understood from the perspective of joy? How did those young people – thrown ‘out’ of the south towards that endless ‘inside’ of the city – look for and recognise each other? To address these questions, the chapter refers to the Quinta Normal Park as the site where many indigenous migrants spent their free time, and to the dances and music performed in the nearby dancehalls during the early years of migration in the 1950s and 1960s.
Since time immemorial, artistic representations of native peoples by non-native artists have mimicked and appropriated these cultures. How is otherness exhibited, and is it possible to engage in its representation from a somehow ‘external’ standpoint? From the point of view of a native people, do we feel these artistic depictions as our own? These questions are addressed in the work Cabeza de Indio (Indian head) by the Mapuche visual artist Antil, and constitute the starting point for this visual chapter. Coming from a decolonial stance, Antil’s work, through the juxtaposition of images, makes a strong critique of the sculpture To the indigenous people by Enrique Villalobos, located in the Plaza de Armas of Santiago de Chile. Antil’s Cabeza de Indio seeks to problematise a history suspended in time, and which is replicated today in what feels like a violent colonial representation. This chapter interrogates artistic and monumental representations of ‘the Other’, so common in Latin America’s public spaces, which contribute to a collective imagery of the supremacy of the conqueror.
Ethnographic scenario, emplaced imaginations and a political aesthetic
The Introduction lays out the research and the ethnography from which the edited collection stems, describing the process from the standpoint of the anthropologist Olivia Casagrande. Drawing on Antropofágias, one of the artworks developed within the project, issues of collaboration, positionality, knowledge production and participative ethnography are discussed. Delving in depth into the methodology adopted during the research, the Introduction engages with current debates concerning the possibilities of ‘decolonising methodologies’ through ethnographic collaboration, experimental methodologies and performance. In its second section, the Introduction discusses the epistemological significance of contemporary indigenous political aesthetics – defined as a political aesthetics of the champurria (‘mixed up’) – for rethinking the (post)colonial city and decoloniality in contemporary contexts. This concept, further developed throughout the book, is also key to the discussion of issues of representation and knowledge production, claiming the need for thinking multiplicities. Finally, the Introduction presents the organisation of the book, and its different sections and chapters, with a final note on the collaborative process of writing in the contemporary socio-political and academic context, especially in light of the recent uprising in Chile and the current COVID-19 crisis.
What is the work of an indigenous musician or artist supposed to be about? What are the languages, formats and codes through which they are allowed to express their identity? Who is that controlling and abstract entity that determines what is allowed and what is not? What should the work of a champurria – as the descendants of the Chilean-Mapuche miscegenation are called – musician or artist be, for better or for worse? This text is a personal and biographical reflection on these questions, and on the many possibilities inspired by gestures of ‘misalignments’, by inappropriate positioning and by the creative blending of genres, belongings and mixed identities.