A 'landscapes of power' framework for historical political ecology: The production of cultural hegemony in Araucania-Wallmapu

Escalona Ulloa, Miguel
Barton, Jonathan R.
Datos de publicación:
The region of Araucania, since its incorporation into the Republic of Chile, has been subject to significant territorial transformations. The Chilean State, supported by economic elites, the political class, and intellectuals have all contributed to the discursive positioning of, and the creation of artefacts in, this regional space. These devices for mobilising power have enabled an appropriation of nature - through natural resource exploitation - and an appropriation of land rights through property titles. The occupation of Araucania from the end of the 19th century was achieved principally through the artefacts of larger settlement consolidation, the railway network, and the building of roads. These were designed and imposed from Santiago through political and administrative channels based on an internal colonialism logic. Conflicts with indigenous Mapuche in Wallmapu (the Mapudungun name for their territory) arose as a consequence of asymmetries of power and this appropriation of space, including expulsion from their land, deforestation, increasing poverty due to restricted access to traditional resources, and epistemic violence through specific constructions of development and the subalterning of indigenous 'others.' This historical political ecology not only reveals the expanding frontiers of extractivism and processes of accumulation in favour of national political and economic elites, but more importantly shows how the construction of cultural landscapes became a device for exercising power and justifying appropriation in pursuit of modernity, progress, and development. These landscapes of power evolved over time as different demands were placed on this territory: first as a wheat bowl, and second as forestry plantation. A 'landscapes of power' framework is presented in order to work through these constructions of landscape, building on phenomenological and dwelling perspectives in order to focus on the role of cultural hegemony and power relations.