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Shamans of the Foye Tree

Gender, Power, and Healing among Chilean Mapuche

By Ana Mariella Bacigalupo

Publication Year: 2007

Drawing on anthropologist Ana Mariella Bacigalupo's fifteen years of field research, Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power, and Healing among Chilean Mapuche is the first study to follow shamans' gender identities and performance in a variety of ritual, social, sexual, and political contexts. To Mapuche shamans, or machi, the foye tree is of special importance, not only for its medicinal qualities but also because of its hermaphroditic flowers, which reflect the gender-shifting components of machi healing practices. Framed by the cultural constructions of gender and identity, Bacigalupo's fascinating findings span the ways in which the Chilean state stigmatizes the machi as witches and sexual deviants; how shamans use paradoxical discourses about gender to legitimatize themselves as healers and, at the same time, as modern men and women; the tree's political use as a symbol of resistance to national ideologies; and other components of these rich traditions. The first comprehensive study on Mapuche shamans' gendered practices, Shamans of the Foye Tree offers new perspectives on this crucial intersection of spiritual, social, and political power.

Published by: University of Texas Press

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pp. ix-xi

The support of various institutions, friends, and colleagues made this work possible. I conceived this project during a Harvard Women’s Studies in Religion Fellowship in 1998–1999. I am thankful to Ann Braude, director of the program, for her backing and encouragement and for the insightful comments by Fellows that year: Janet Gallagher, Eveline Good- ...

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CHAPTER 1. Introduction: The Gendered Realm of the Foye Tree

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pp. 1-16

Since 1991, when I first began working with Mapuche shamans in the Bio-B

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CHAPTER 2. The Ambiguous Powers of Machi: Illness, Awingkamiento, and the Modernization of Witchcraft

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pp. 17-43

“That place is charged with witchcraft,” Machi Pamela said as I drove her through the lush green countryside to the lakeside tourist town of Rukalikan, where the paved road ended. It was February 1995, and we were on our way to the home of Segundo and his family, whom Pamela believed had been hexed by a kalku, or witch. “The old kalku from the top ...

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CHAPTER 3. Gendered Rituals for Cosmic Order: Shamanic Struggles for Wholeness

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pp. 44-80

The struggle for wholeness—the melding of all the world’s experience and knowledge—is central to the practice of machi in Chile today. Mapuche people, marginalized by the Chilean state socially, economically, and politically, link individual and social order with cosmological order. Both social and cosmological relations affect individual health and illness. A ...

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CHAPTER 4. Ritual Gendered Relationships: Kinship, Marriage, Mastery, and Machi Modes of Personhood

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pp. 81-110

Kinship, marriage, and mastery—the closest and most durable gendered social relationships among Mapuche—are used by machi in ritual to create bonds with the spirit and animal world. Machi are individual women and men in their everyday lives, but in ritual contexts their sex and age become secondary as they engage in various relational personhoods that ...

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CHAPTER 5. The Struggle for Machi Masculinity: Colonial Politics of Gender, Sexuality, and Power

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pp. 111-139

One long winter evening in August 1629, in a hamlet headed by Longko Maulican south of the Bio-Bío River in Chile, a machi weye, or male shaman, healed a bewitched native boy with the help of ancestral spirits and a foye tree. Longko Maulican’s slave, Francisco Núñez de Pineda y Bascuñán, a twenty-two-year-old of Spanish descent, born in Chile, watched ...

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CHAPTER 6. Machi as Gendered Symbols of Tradition: National Discourses and Mapuche Resistance Movements

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pp. 155-178

Machi Mar

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CHAPTER 7. The Responses of Male Machi to Homophobia: Reinvention as Priests, Doctors, and Spiritual Warriors

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pp. 164-211

Eugenio and Daniel—both longko of their respective communities—drank a carton of Gato Negro wine as they mused about my research on male machi one summer evening in December 2001. The two drew on Chilean homophobic discourses to joke about the manliness, gender performances, and sexuality of male machi. They applied to male machi ...

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CHAPTER 8. Female Machi: Embodying Tradition or Contesting Gender Norms?

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pp. 212-252

Most machi in Chile today are women, and Mapuche use the Spanish feminine article la in conjunction with the word machi. Some Mapuche argue that machi are predominantly women because “women stay at home and follow Mapuche ways more than men.” Others stress that women are more accepting of their calling. According to Machi Ana’s ...

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CHAPTER 9. Representing the Gendered Identities of Machi: Paradoxes and Conflicts

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pp. 253-260

Machi Abel was acutely aware of the power that Chilean majority discourses hold over machi’s gender identities and sexualities. He argued that Chilean national discourses used the labels “homosexual” and “witch” as political tools to denigrate machi and Mapuche and to mold them to the gendered expectations of the Catholic state. He pointed to the unequal ...


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pp. 261-274


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pp. 275-278


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pp. 279-306


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pp. 307-321

E-ISBN-13: 9780292795266
E-ISBN-10: 0292795262
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292716582
Print-ISBN-10: 0292716583

Page Count: 335
Illustrations: 31 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2007