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Territorial Conflicts, Bureaucracy, and State Formation in Chile’s Southern Frontera 1866-1912.


My dissertation, “Territorial Conflicts, Bureaucracy, and State Formation in Chile's Southern Frontera 1866-1912" is an agrarian and social history of settler colonialism in the Araucanía region of Southern Chile beginning in 1866 when Chile established its first colonization laws and concluding in 1912. Using national, regional, and local archival sources as its foundation, it seeks to understand the ways in which the Chilean state, as represented by government bureaucrats such as engineers and officials at the Ministry of Colonization, developed and enacted its visions of economic progress. Local Indigenous Mapuche tribes were significantly impacted by these land transformations, as many communities were forced off their lands and in some cases found no other recourse than to navigate the long, bureaucratic process of lawsuits to regain their lost lands. My research begins with the question of how different groups, including European colonos and Chilean settlers sought to impose (or preserve) a particular vision of space, progress, and development in the region. Although my study fully recognizes the violence that was required to establish control over the region, it is my contention that an equally important part of this process was the state’s deployment of techniques that have usually been seen as relatively neutral in both their intent and impact upon state-peasant relations. In this way, my project makes the historiographical push to go beyond the military histories of the region to think about the day-to-day interactions between bureaucrats and local communities. Techniques such as mapping and parceling were both the result of, and the necessary prerequisite to, various forms of violence associated with pacification, occupation, and the creation of the region as an underdeveloped internal periphery. The information that these practices produced helped to further knowledge about exploitable resources and profitable territories and were pivotal in the formation of more overt ways of exerting control over the peoples of the region.

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