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Di Giminiani, Piergiorgio; Fonck, Martin and Perasso, Paolo (2019): Can natives be settlers? Emptiness, settlement and indigeneity on the settler colonial frontier in Chile. In: Anthropological Theory, Vol. 21, No. 1: pp. 82-106

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Abstract

Under settler colonialism, dispossession is enabled by discursive strategies aimed at curtailing indigenous entitlement to land. One such strategy is the mutual determination of the native-settler categories whereby the native status is bound to a condition of ahistorical emplacement to specific tracts of land, while settlers can claim native status towards the nation state as a whole. The settler-native dichotomy fails to account for the possibility that settlement could be appropriated by indigenous collectivities as a process constitutive of land attachment and a sense of belonging. This analysis of memories and practices of indigenous settlement in the Mapuche frontier region in Chile indicates that, unlike dominant narratives of emptiness and environmental transformation reproduced under settler colonialism, indigenous settlement can unfold as an unstable ontological achievement aimed at both transforming and maintaining the land's topological diversity and ability to partake in human social life. Indigenous settlement can work as a critical intervention against the reductionist determination of the category of native through which indigenous land entitlement is delegitimized under settler colonialism.

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