Toward a Transandean Mapuche Politics: Ritual and Power in Chile and Argentina, 1792-1862


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




The Mapuche people of southern Chile and western Argentina retained control over their lands throughout the colonial period and after Latin America gained independence from Spain. This project asks how Mapuche—and, by implication, other native peoples on the borderlands of the Spanish empire—kept these lands during the bloody transition from colony to nation. The Mapuche conducted formal political negotiations with all sides, as Chilean and Argentine national forces battled Spain for control of southern Latin America. Rival Mapuche continued to support or oppose Chile and Argentina after formal independence. Mapuche custom infused these ritual negotiations (parlamentos), which Mapuche leaders used to balance allegiances and secure control over a vast transandean region. Using correspondence among Mapuche, Spanish, Chilean, and Argentine leaders, this project demonstrates how internal Mapuche alliances and rivalries played a crucial role in these conflicts over how the Mapuche negotiated an autonomous space within changing geopolitical orders.