Project

PhD, Native American Studies, University of California, Davis

Program

ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowships

Department

Georgetown Humanities Initiative

Work Affiliation

Georgetown University

PhD Granting Institution

University of California, Davis

Position Description

"Restoring Hemispheric Relationality: Connecting Mapuche and California Native Homelands Through the Stories of Wheat and Pine"

This dissertation shows how the symmetrical landscapes of California and Chile became further interconnected through cultivar exchange in the 19th century, alongside parallel Indigenous struggles for sovereignty and autonomy. Grounded in Native American Studies theory and methodology, I follow the stories of wheat (Triticum compactum) and pine (Pinus radiata) and the links they have created between both regions. In the nineteenth century Chile experienced a boom in wheat exports to meet the demand of California gold rush populations, fueling the settlement of California and providing the seeds for the state’s budding wheat economy. California’s colonization and transition into large-scale agriculture in the 1860s became a model for the settlement of Wallmapu, Mapuche territory. Eager to expand their agricultural frontier and to create a “Chilean California,” Chilean settlers invaded Mapuche territory through a process of massive deforestation. This land was then “reforested” with the California-native radiata pine.
Based on original archival research and oral histories, I show how the centuries-long effort to replace Chile’s temperate rainforest with pine and other monoculture is the direct result of historical exchanges with California. This interdisciplinary and international study reveals the origin of Chile’s current environmental conflict, as well as future sites of collaboration among Indigenous peoples of both regions in response to extractivism and climate change. This research will also indigenize existing work on the Chile-California connection and will deepen important discourses about hemispheric approaches to Native American Studies.