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.
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.
Moving from the process of designing and staging the theatre play Santiago Waria and from elaborations on the Brechtian ‘distancing effect’ in theatre and Artaud’s notion of ‘cruelty’, this chapter analyses the construction of Mapuche memory in Santiago, its multiple layers and (in)visible sites. Triggering a reflection on the problematic place of the history of indigenous migration and diaspora, it aims to address the critical node represented by hidden Mapuche memories within the colonial history of the Chilean capital. Deeply linked to indigenous struggles and movements against the state and to ongoing internal colonialism, these often-unspoken memories shape family and personal histories, and the emerging of Mapuche subjectivities within the city.
The places of memory, those spaces where collective memory is crystallised and sheltered, are ephemeral and volatile for the diaspora. What is a place of memory for those who had to undertake migration to survive? The train station at their destination? The bars frequented by the community in those cities that sheltered them? The marginal areas inhabited by them? The hyper-exploitative workspaces where they had to sell their labour as the people at the bottom of the chain of production? This chapter explores the (im)possibility of memory in a space where the very presence of Mapuche has been invisibilised, if not denied: the upper-class neighbourhoods of Santiago de Chile. The ‘Barrio Oriente’ was (and still is) a place where Mapuche women migrating from the south of the country were employed as nannies, housemaids and domestic workers. Their labour facilitated the reproduction of the life of our elites, yet their stories are simply vanishing from these privileged areas. Elaborating on these trajectories, the chapter addresses a performative intervention taken forward during the MapsUrbe project, seeking precisely to highlight and defy this invisibility and resulting in a minimum commemoration of denied biographical transits.
Returning to the main themes and lines of analysis developed in the book and to the collaborative research process, this chapter draws the volume’s conclusions. Constructed as a hybrid between written and oral text, it is a dialogue and a conversation in the form of the Mapuche nütxam – extensively adopted during the research project – between the book’s three editors and the project’s coordinators. This conversation, taking place in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 emergency, hovers around the authors’ positionalities, collaboration and frictions. In doing so, it elaborates on the process of collaborative research and collective writing, knowledge production, methodological decolonisation and indigenous political aesthetics and their broader meaning from both an anthropological and activist standpoint.
Building on analyses of the relationship between race, aesthetics and politics, the volume elaborates on the epistemological possibilities arising from collaborative and decolonial methodologies at the intersection of ethnography, art, performance and the urban space. It moves from practice-based and collaborative research with young Mapuche and mestizo artists and activists in Santiago (Chile), drawing together a range of different materials: from artworks to theatre and performance; from graphics to audio and visual materials. An edited collection, the book is constructed by shifting between different authorships and changing perspectives from the individual to the collective. This approach, while to a certain extent within the classical structure of editors/authors, plays with the roles of researcher/research participant, highlighting the ambiguities, frictions and exchanges involved in this relationship. Elaborating on indigenous knowledge production, the book thus addresses the possibility of disrupting the social and material landscape of the (post)colonial city by articulating meanings through artistic and performative representations. As such, the essays contained in the book put forward alternative imaginations constructed through an aesthetic defined by the Mapuche concept of champurria (‘mixed’): a particular way of knowing and engaging with reality, and ultimately an active process of home- and self-making beyond the spatialities usually assigned to colonised bodies and subjects. Actively engaging with current debates through collective writing by indigenous people raising questions in terms of decolonisation, the book stands as both an academic and a political project, interrogating the relationship between activism and academia, and issues of representation, authorship and knowledge production.
The Proscenium introduces the site-specific theatre play Santiago Waria, addressing the interdisciplinary methodology adopted and lingering on its development, particularly from the perspective of scenic arts. The Proscenium introduces site-specific theatre and performance as it has been developed in Latin America and in Chile. It then illustrates the specific urban spatialities constituting the main nodes of the theatre piece as an interactive city tour, describing the concrete process of construction and rehearsal of the play, as a shared creative process engaging with the social and material landscape of the (post)colonial city.