Hegemonic Discourse in the Chilean Media: Constructing Narratives on the Mapuches
Sociology Fordham University Bronx, USA
Latin American indigenous social movements have attracted world-wide attention in the last decades. From bilingual education to battles over land rights, these new social movements are contesting the definition of citizenship and national identity in many countries in Latin America. In the Chilean case, the indigenous movement challenges the mythical view of a homogeneous society, and situates the politics of recognition at the core of the public debate. This paper analyzes the role of the Chilean mass media in this debate, emphasizing their role in selecting and framing news on ethnic minorities. One of the main arguments of the paper is that the Chilean media propose contradictory images of the Mapuches. One the one hand, the Mapuches are presented as a symbol of our past, as a symbol of "nature", of our "origins", particularly in media segments related to arts and culture. But on the other hand, Mapuches are also portrayed as aggressive, conflictive and deviant in today's political news. The idealized historical Mapuche is constructed as the symbol of the mestizo origins of the nation, while the living Mapuche is depicted as a deviant actor who is threatening the social order. This is an interesting point of entry for a discussion on the media narratives on the Mapuche: while the historic figure is revered, the present figure is demonized. Independent media outlets supported by Mapuche organizations will contest these mainstream representations. As a result, an extended universe of discourse is conformed, where symbolic struggles over the power of naming are constantly being reenacted.