Privatization of the ‘historic debt’? Mapuche territorial claims and the forest industry in southern Chile

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Datos de publicación:
Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, Vol. 13, N° 3, 305-325, 2018
Descolonización - Pueblos indígenas - Pueblo Mapuche
This article chronicles the long-standing conflict between the Mapuche people and the Chilean state since militarized colonization of Mapuche territory in the 1880s. The analysis focuses especially on a series of conflicts between Mapuche communities and Chilean-based multinational forest companies, which operate extensively in territory that the Mapuche claim. Given that state-initiated programs of restitution and reconciliation have been largely successful in addressing this problem, we ask whether a multi-stakeholder program of forest products certification might help overcome the impasse. We argue that this possibility does exist, but not because the certification program addresses root causes; paradoxically, the glimmer of hope comes from the implicit acknowledgement that Mapuche political horizons and Chilean designs on Mapuche territory are incommensurable. In this ‘privatized’ scenario, certification becomes a tool for increasing Mapuche communities’ power to bargain with the forest companies, offering ‘transactional’ steps toward conflict resolution, based on strengthened practices of autonomy that neither seek nor expect deeper ‘ontological’ reconciliation.

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