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Race and the Chilean Miracle

Neoliberalism, Democracy, and Indigenous Rights

Patricia Richards

Publication Year: 2013

The economic reforms imposed by Augusto Pinochet’s regime (1973–1990) are often credited with transforming Chile into a global economy and setting the stage for a peaceful transition to democracy, individual liberty, and the recognition of cultural diversity. The famed economist Milton Friedman would later describe the transition as the “Miracle of Chile.” Yet, as Patricia Richards reveals, beneath this veneer of progress lies a reality of social conflict and inequity that has been perpetuated by many of the same neoliberal programs. In Race and the Chilean Miracle, Richards examines conflicts between Mapuche indigenous people and state and private actors over natural resources, territorial claims, and collective rights in the Araucanía region. Through ground-level fieldwork, extensive interviews with local Mapuche and Chileans, and analysis of contemporary race and governance theory, Richards exposes the ways that local, regional, and transnational realities are shaped by systemic racism in the context of neoliberal multiculturalism. Richards demonstrates how state programs and policies run counter to Mapuche claims for autonomy and cultural recognition. The Mapuche, whose ancestral lands have been appropriated for timber and farming, have been branded as terrorists for their activism and sometimes-violent responses to state and private sector interventions. Through their interviews, many Mapuche cite the perpetuation of colonialism under the guise of development projects, multicultural policies, and assimilationist narratives. Many Chilean locals and political elites see the continued defiance of the Mapuche in their tenacious connection to the land, resistance to integration, and insistence on their rights as a people. These diametrically opposed worldviews form the basis of the racial dichotomy that continues to pervade Chilean society. In her study, Richards traces systemic racism that follows both a top-down path (global, state, and regional) as well as a bottom-up one (local agencies and actors), detailing their historic roots. Richards also describes potential positive outcomes in the form of intercultural coalitions or indigenous autonomy. Her compelling analysis offers new perspectives on indigenous rights, race, and neoliberal multiculturalism in Latin America and globally.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Pitt Latin American Series

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xiv

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Chapter 1. Race and the Chilean Miracle

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pp. 1-32

Chile is often portrayed as a successful example of a peaceful transition to democracy sustained by high rates of economic growth. Enthusiasts refer to a “Chilean Miracle,” the notion that free-market reforms imposed during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973–90) put the country on the road to development and stability. They cite Chile as a success story, a model for...

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Chapter 2. Contested Memories, Symbolic Violence, and the History of the Araucanía

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pp. 33-69

History and memory alike are socially constructed. As Barry Schwartz (2007, 588) has defined it, “collective memory refers to the distribution throughout society of beliefs, feelings, moral judgments, and knowledge about the past.” We say memory is socially constructed because, as Schwartz points out, while individuals may hold beliefs or draw judgments about the...

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Chapter 3. Neoliberalism and the Conflicts under the Concertación

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pp. 70-100

Neoliberal economic policies extended upon the legacy of racism and inequality to create a situation in which conflicts over land, resources, and indigenous rights thrived throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. This chapter examines these neoliberal roots as well as how Mapuche and local elites explained the conflicts, paying special attention to how the concepts of...

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Chapter 4. Constructing Neoliberal Multiculturalism in Chile

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pp. 101-133

The Concertación responded to the conflicts with a dual approach. On the one hand, it created programs and policies that responded positively to Mapuche demands that could be construed as related to development or diversity. On the other, it harshly penalized Mapuche actions that favored principles of autonomy, self-governance, and territorial control. This policy...

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Chapter 5. Local Elites Confront Multiculturalism

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pp. 134-168

How did the Chilean public construct the Mapuche in the context of the conflicts? Large-scale surveys give contradictory impressions. While some surveys conducted in major cities (all outside the conflict zone) indicated endorsement of Mapuche claims (IDEP 2003), others showed support for use of stronger tactics against Mapuche activists (Libertad y Desarrollo ...

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Chapter 6. Autonomy, Interculturality, and a More Inclusive Future

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pp. 169-207

In the 1970s and 1980s many Mapuche were active in the sociopolitical struggle to reinstate democracy in Chile. Like their Chilean counterparts, they anticipated that life under democracy would be an improvement over the brutal Pinochet dictatorship. Chileans and Mapuche alike hoped that under democracy the grip of neoliberalism would loosen, their participation would...

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Chapter 7. Systemic Racism, Subjectivities, and Shared Futures

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pp. 208-226

In March 2011, as popular struggles erupted across the Middle East, U.S. president Barack Obama visited Chile. “At a time when people around the world are reaching for their freedoms,” he observed, “Chile shows that, yes, it is possible to transition from dictatorship to democracy, and to do so peacefully” (“Obama in Chile” 2011). The strength of this transition—the ...


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pp. 227-240


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pp. 241-242


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pp. 243-256


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pp. 257-266

Back Cover

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p. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780822978671
E-ISBN-10: 0822978679
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822962373
Print-ISBN-10: 0822962373

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Pitt Latin American Series