ABOUT THIS BOOK
In 1990, when Augusto Pinochet’s 17-year military dictatorship ended, democratic rule returned to Chile. Since then, Indigenous organizations have mobilized to demand restitution of their ancestral territories seized over the past 150 years.
Sentient Lands is a historically grounded ethnography of the Mapuche people’s engagement with state-run reconciliation and land-restitution efforts. Piergiorgio Di Giminiani analyzes environmental relations, property, state power, market forces, and indigeneity to illustrate how land connections are articulated, in both landscape experiences and land claims. Rather than viewing land claims as simply bureaucratic procedures imposed on local understandings and experiences of land connections, Di Giminiani reveals these processes to be disputed practices of world making.
Ancestral land formation is set in motion by the entangled principles of Indigenous and legal land ontologies, two very different and sometimes conflicting processes. Indigenous land ontologies are based on a relation between two subjects—land and people—both endowed with sentient abilities. By contrast, legal land ontologies are founded on the principles of property theory, wherein land is an object of possession that can be standardized within a regime of value. Governments also use land claims to domesticate Indigenous geographies into spatial constructs consistent with political and market configurations.
Exploring the unexpected effects on political activism and state reparation policies caused by this entanglement of Indigenous and legal land ontologies, Di Giminiani offers a new analytical angle on Indigenous land politics.