Marshall Knudson

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9374

Approve Date

October 7, 2016

Project Title

Knudson, Marshall B., U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Mapuche Language Revitalization and Identity in Urban Chile,' supervised by Dr. Asif Agha

Preliminary abstract: The Mapuche are the largest indigenous group in Chile. Since the 1990s, when the Mapuche were first recognized by the Chilean government through the ‘Indigenous Law’, census measures have counted a majority of Mapuche-identifying people in cities. Yet public policy, academic, and Mapuche ethnopolitical discourses alike have tended to obscure this urban presence by focusing instead on reservation communities in the rural south as the imagined locus of Mapuche identity, political activity, and linguistic community. Since the turn of the millennium, rural conflicts have raged over the possession of ancestral lands and protection of natural resources. In recent years, however, a new form of Mapuche activism has emerged, predominantly in urban areas, to promote the Mapuche language, which is threatened by an eroding base of speakers and diminishing contexts of use. Activities to reverse language shift — language classes, workshops, and camps, public fora and conferences, curricular design, pedagogical training, officialization campaigns, and efforts at language standardization — are creating spaces in the city for urban people, especially young adults, to enact Mapuche identity, and construct Mapuche community. My research investigates how people are participating in projects that promote the Mapuche language in urban areas, and examines the effects of such activism on the experience of ethnic solidarity, on conceptions of Mapuche identity and group affiliation, and on the formation of a translocal register of urban Mapudungun. 12 months of multi-sited ethnography among four Mapuche language projects in the cities of Temuco and Santiago, respectively, will show how urban language activism is creating new avenues for decolonizing practice and the assertion of indigenous autonomy.