Act 1 – Beginnings
The Quinta Normal Park – Colectivo MapsUrbe
in Performing the jumbled city

Chapter 1 focuses on the Quinta Normal Park, one of the key sites for the Mapuche diaspora in the Chilean capital since the 1960s: the place where indigenous migrants spent their free time, met each other, fell in love and often started their families. The park, deeply connected with family and personal memories and the relationship with both the land of origin in the south and previous generations, is still the location of cultural and political manifestations for urban Mapuche. However, between 1959 and 1960, it was also the ‘field’ for the first ethnographic account of the ‘urban Mapuche’, by the Chilean anthropologist Carlos Munizaga (1961). This chapter plays with these two levels, defying the detached and impersonal ethnographic gaze on indigenous migrants caught in a supposed process of ‘assimilation’ with a claim for a situated and owned history of displacement, but also creative practices of place and self-making. At the end of the chapter, Scene 1 of the play Santiago Waria is reproduced, in which these concerns are translated into theatrical representation. The Interlude ‘From the Quinta to the Colony’, also part of the play, makes the connection with Chapter 2 through time-travelling that brings the reader back and forth between colonial times, the Pinochet dictatorship, and the neoliberal city in 2018.


Claudio: We are here at the Quinta Normal because this is a place – though not the only one – very much present in Mapuche memories here in Santiago, especially of the people who arrived in the city in the 50s and 60s.1 It was an important space for socialising; our people came to get information about finding a job, a room to rent …

Rodrigo: To make connections.

Claudio: Of course, and to fall in love; that, too …

Martín: A lot of love here …

Claudio: And also, to dance.

Martín: Over there was where people danced.

Claudio: A lot of people talk about El Frontón, which was the dancehall where people used to gather, a sort of ‘disco’ back then.

Martín: I imagine it as a gazebo, something like that …

Claudio: Yes, a gazebo where they danced and drank … they danced to rock ’n’ roll and a lot of cumbia and that kind of music. […] Mapuche organisations used to also come here to hand out their brochures in an attempt to mobilise the people who gathered here. Many people today say ‘just like Peruvians in the Plaza de Armas, we Mapuche used to get together in the Quinta Normal’, a very common phrase among the older people who used to come here. Back then, with the Mapuche presence, the Quinta Normal experienced a moment of … a new imaginary, a new memory was installed. […] This space was a rural estate in the nineteenth century, and then a place for scientific, agronomic research.

Martín: The Botanical Garden …

Claudio: During the nineteenth century, other institutions began to use this place, and the National Society of Agriculture was established here in the twentieth century. [The Society] was a very conservative sector of Chile.

Rodrigo: One of the most conservative …

Claudio: Only in the twentieth century did the Quinta become a park. When Mapuche people started coming here, not long ago, it had just turned into a park. […] So, this became a park but was not born as a park, and this is probably why it has a sort of ‘scientific feel’.

Martín: The National Museum of Natural History is also here … and, speaking of the ‘French model’, there is the Acclimatisation Garden, a site built for the Universal Exhibitions in 1883–84. People were enslaved and displayed there, in the so-called ‘human zoos’. The idea behind the two is the same; they are exactly the same.2

During the nineteenth century, Santiago underwent a significant refounding process. The old colonial city was modernised, and what was later named the camino de cintura (‘belt path’) was built. This was meant to be a sanitary barrier made up of wide avenues so that the ‘civilised city’ would be separated from the ‘barbarian city’. The highly segregating redesign was undertaken by Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna and was inspired by the aesthetics and urbanistic features of Paris: the ‘French model’, as a way to scientifically catalogue and mark out certain bodies.3 The camino de cintura was established through the building of large avenues that today correspond to Matucana, Exposición and Blanco Encalada Avenues (west); Matta Avenue (south); Mackenna Avenue (east); and the Mapocho River (north). It was meant to protect and isolate the city centre from the surrounding peripheral and poorer areas, which were considered the source of diseases, anti-social behaviours, and racial corruption. This urban and social planning, strongly promoted by the ‘Chilean Haussman’, aimed for progress; yet, as Benjamin noticed, progress always entails catastrophe (2002). Beyond the ‘civilised city’ lived hundreds of thousands of human beings; black people, indigenous people, and poorer mestizos who lived in a city of disease, misery and daily struggle. Still, the sanitary barrier could not last forever and proved unable to prevent the passing of ‘barbarians’ into the affluent city. The ‘African customs’, as Vicuña Mackenna used to say, were already beginning to penetrate the civilised city by the mid-twentieth century.

Among those areas that aimed to beautify the modernised city was the Quinta Normal Park, in eastern downtown Santiago. In 1841, an extensive plot of land was established alongside one of the axes of the ‘belt path’, Matucana Avenue. Originally, the land was intended for educational and scientific purposes, being the site of agricultural and botanical experimentation. Over time, it became a space for popular socialising. Perhaps it was because of the small artificial lake or the multiple museums in the area, or simply the historical proximity to the lower- and middle-class sectors, but within a century, the park in Quinta Normal went from being a space for scientific progress to becoming a park for the leisure of the urban masses. ‘Barbarism’ had invaded the Paris of America.

From the 1950s, Mapuche migrants arriving from the south of the country began to gather in the park, entering its spaces for love, friendship and festivities. Young Mapuche arriving in the city found there a safe place to meet and share information about jobs, accommodation and city life; in short, building networks for survival within the Chilean capital. Over time, the park came to represent a site where festivities took place and moments of celebration were shared. Many of the young ‘urban’ Mapuche families in Santiago began with couples meeting and forming in the park, the first setting for many romances. In the Quinta Normal, they fell in love and planned shared lives. Many, including among the authors of this book, have shared anecdotes, memories, and family stories of the Quinta.

It was this context that caught the attention of Carlos Munizaga, one of the founders of social anthropology in Chile. Dozens of indigenous migrants gathering amid modern architecture was an ideal setting for any twentieth-century anthropologist: Munizaga carried out his ethnography in the park between 1959 and 1961, visiting the place especially on Sundays when Mapuche youths had some free time to socialise among themselves. The anthropologist wrote notes, did some interviews, and took many photographs, which he then published in his book Estructuras transicionales en la migración de los araucanos de hoy a la ciudad de Santiago de Chile (Transitional Structures in the Migration of Araucanians of Today to the City of Santiago de Chile) (Munizaga 1961).4 Indeed, some of the most interesting elements of the book are these images, which serve as historical documents to delve into the aesthetics of a changing indigenous world and to try to imagine those moments of Mapuche socialising within the city. However, Munizaga was part of an anthropology marked by the colonial features of research: that is, we know nothing about the people depicted, such as their names or the intimacies of their stories. We are presented with objects of study. Similarly, in an awkward act of disguise, Munizaga tried to conceal that the place was the Quinta Normal Park, renaming it ‘The Garden’ (El Jardín) when discussing where the described events took place.

Of course, for any inhabitant of the city, and even more so for urban Mapuche, it is clear that the pseudonym refers to the park. This is how, disregarding the veil that Munizaga sought to create, we went to the Quinta Normal Park and searched for the exact spots where Mapuche youths were photographed between 1959 and 1961, and played with our bodies to imitate those performativities. The gesture of reproducing his photographs aimed to highlight and challenge the ‘French model’, the parallelism between the National Museum of Natural History the human zoos, the city’s spatial segregation, and the anthropologist’s photographs, in a sort of looking back at the colonial gaze. At the same time, we unequivocally marked the Quinta Normal Park as one of the Mapuche places within the city of Santiago. Still used for many activities such as political meetings and social and cultural events today, the park is one of the sites of memory for the Mapuche diaspora. Linked to a sort of sense of beginning for Mapuche migrants, this place, besides interrogating the ethnographic lens, guided us in an exercise that delved into the question of origins. As later represented by the artwork El Jardín, the Quinta Normal, shaping collective memories, also represents a claim for place-making in displacement, a creative appropriation within processes of belonging and becoming. It is where the art exhibition was displayed, and later, during the development of Santiago Waria, the park was chosen by Roberto as the very place where the play began and the related journey through the city started. As we will see in what follows,5 the site was the location for the first scene, in which a young Mapuche couple celebrate their marriage and pregnancy, settling in the capital as they long for their land in the distant south. It is, indeed, a place of many beginnings, against invisibility and absence and, at the same time, where the past is not only remembered but also reimagined.


The installation consisted of two pieces. Copies of the original pictures taken by Munizaga were framed and hung on the wall above a wooden nightstand covered with a printed fabric. On the nightstand, hundreds of copies of the photographs mimicking those taken by the anthropologist were available for the public to take. A short text introduced the installation referring to Munizaga’s work El Jardín while claiming an emplaced and intimate representation against the anonymisation of Munizaga’s ethnographic eye. The nightstand and the framed picture above it reproduced what could be called ‘home’, an intimate space witnessing the connection with previous generations where tokens of memory are preserved against time. Munizaga’s photographs were framed in a gesture of tenderness, defying the anonymous cataloguing perpetrated by the ethnographic gaze; those nameless ‘indigenous migrants’ are family, and ancestors, silent testimonies of acts of dwelling in the city, beyond scientific debates around assimilation versus survival, permanence versus integration. Is it one; or the other? Is this very gesture of framing in contradiction with traditional forms of memory within Mapuche communities in the south? Are those orally transmitted narratives and biographical accounts at odds with Munizaga’s pictures?

Look at the eyes of the people portrayed. They probably did not expect to be photographed, nor asked whether they would like to be. In our photographic reproductions, our gazes are different. We knew and staged it. We experienced the imbalance of body postures that felt so distant from our own way of standing.

What the artwork El Jardín wanted to defy was the anthropologist as an author, and the power relations entailed in ethnographic representations (see Geertz 1988; Clifford and Marcus 1986; Asad 1973).6 The anthropologist’s ‘inscription’ of others – in textual and photographic form – was questioned in its resulting in further dis-placement. Besides being relegated, as the ‘subjects of study’, to a different time, in what Johannes Fabian famously labelled ‘allochronism’ (Fabian 1983), Mapuche migrants are put ‘out of place’, in a romanticised ‘garden’ that denies their urban presence. Precisely in the attempt to appropriate both space and time, the artwork claimed a Mapuche emplacement within the city, shedding light on multiple forms of indigenous belonging and their transformation.

While questioning Munizaga’s ethnographic representation and the invisibilisation of the presence of Mapuche migrants within the city, the artwork plays with these dis-connections. The form given to the installation signals both continuity and rupture, the double effect of migrating to the city. The mimicking photographs, printed in hundreds of copies and available for the audience to take as if expanding the gesture of producing family memories out of the photograph of strangers (are they?) points to the transformation, movement, mixture, and creative appropriation entailed in the emplacement of current Mapuche generations within the city.

Previous generations – their memories of migration, their longing for the south – are still present, informing indigenous experiences of the city. Yet, their trajectories have shaped those of the following generations not only through words, stories, and remembrances, but also through silence, and what remained untold. Being a migrant from the rural and indigenous south, especially in the 1950s and 1960s entailed precarious and very arduous employment. When arriving in the Chilean capital, men were mostly employed on construction sites, in bakeries, in meat factories and public maintenance, while women worked as live-in housemaids from a very young age.7 The fatigue of the long working hours, the discrimination, and the abuses suffered were not always discussed within the family, and frequently indigenous migrants concealed their origins to avoid further racial discrimination and violence, or to spare their children and grandchildren what they had lived through.8 Often marrying a non-indigenous Chilean and ‘disappearing’ into the broader population of pobladores in the peripheries of the capital city, indigenous migrants were until recently almost invisible within the metropolitan region. Their silences were quite literal, for language was among the first aspects to be abandoned. Yet, this also constituted an active and ‘micropolitical’ response to Chilean colonialism (Nahuelpán 2016). A way of treasuring one’s deepest belonging, these caring silences play a key role in current identification processes for young urban Mapuche: it is also from that absence of words that a collectivity is rebuilt (Alvarado Lincopi 2016:11). This is how, while the majority of young Mapuche and mestizos do not speak Mapuzugun, increasing numbers are now learning it, moving from bits and pieces heard in their grandmothers’ kitchens and on visits to their families back south.9 Language is commonly linked to what is sometimes referred to as a ‘going back’ to one’s own indigenous origins or roots. The beginning of this process is often identified with a precise moment in time, metaphorically referring to the kultxun – ‘falling over’ oneself. Yet, coming to terms with one’s own indigeneity is far from a backwards movement. Rather, it is moving towards different ways of inhabiting urban space, similar to the inventive ways in which Mapuzugun is employed in everyday life in the city as a champurria language. Through neologisms and mixtures with Spanish, malapropisms that become part of common use or Mapuzugun nouns becoming Spanish verbs: ‘rukear’, for example, meaning to ‘make home’.10 Such are the practices of dwelling that both reproduce and reinvent indigenous identities and belongings, inhabiting an imbalanced balance that appears in several forms, multiplying as the mimicking photographs did.


In the diaspora, the tuwün inevitably ceased to represent a direct correspondence between the place of the ancestors, the place where one was born, and the place where one lives.11 In one of the many ruptures produced by the displacement that comes with migration, the tuwün slips away and needs to be reaffirmed or reinvented. Yet territorial belonging is still there, in a creative entanglement of the land of origin in the south of the country, and specific places within the city. Spatial belonging is inevitably reconstructed through practices of dwelling; inhabiting different but interconnected landscapes means living through an ‘open wound’ that entails both personal and broader historical and political meanings, but at the same time, it also allows for the bridging of fractures and engaging in creative reconnections.12

Throughout the process of research and reflection characterising MapsUrbe, the question of origin – and more specifically of the tuwün – was addressed during two sessions organised by Marcela and Marie Juliette around collaborative cartography. On these occasions, everyday trajectories and places felt as one’s own were located and discussed by working on a map of Santiago’s metropolitan region. The issue of tuwün was probably the most problematic to grasp. For almost everyone present, it could easily be located somewhere south, yet it did not necessarily feel significant or defining for personal experiences of place and home. Living in the city somehow displaced that anchor for the self, making it feel ‘far south’ while relocating it at the same time in an equally significant urban space: in the pobla;13 in a grandmother’s kitchen; even in the maid’s room where the first years of childhood were spent together with a migrating mother, learning to be quiet while she worked.

This shift questions the very idea of ‘origin’ and its almost sacralised meaning for indigenous identities. In the political narrative of indigenous movements, the Mapuche being no exception, it is common to search for an ‘origin’ that reveals an entire tradition, allowing collective history to be established on a genealogical foundation or a lineage related to a specific (ancestral) territory; this is the tuwün in the Mapuche world. But what about the generations born in the diaspora? There are at least two possibilities. On the one hand, there is an insistence on the narrative of previous generations, and an origin that turns into a nostalgia for the unlived. On the other hand, there is the emergence of new intimacies and affectionate attachments with the new territoriality, albeit contradictory ones. Mapuche youth marking the colonial metropolis, inhabiting it and weaving their stories there, specifically embrace this second possibility. They are reimagining the political notion of the tuwün, resituating one’s own beginning in and throughout urban space, encompassing not only specific sites, but also the movement between them, and hence, acts of traversing the city (see Casagrande 2021).

This gradually became evident during the research process, and especially when, as a group, we needed to make a decision concerning where to stage the MapsUrbe art exhibition. As outlined in the Introduction, at that point there was still no plan regarding the theatre play, and the concerns were rather about the best place to display the individual and collective works developed so far. Having addressed the city’s spatialities to account for the Mapuche history of migration and diaspora, and having questioned representations of indigeneity within the urban landscape and in some of the landmarks of the Chilean capital, all of us – whether from an anthropological, activist, or artistic perspective – were aware that the choice of where to stage the final art exhibition was far from a trivial one. Discussions and meetings were spent debating the matter. Should it be a proper artistic venue – with more visibility but possibly not as easily accessible for the broader Mapuche community? Or should it be somewhere more accessible, but with less political impact in terms of the broader public debate? Furthermore: what kind of place should it be, with what sort of meaning attached to its materiality? Finally, did it make sense to choose only one place, with static objects displayed as if they were in a museum? Would this form not clash with the content of what was actually said through the artworks?

Different possibilities were explored and ruled out until two key decisions were taken: first, on the need to set into motion the produced dissenting imaginations (as Arturo Escobar would put it), which would be addressed by staging a site-specific play constructed as a moving city-tour that later became Santiago Waria: Pueblo Grande de Wigka; and second, on the Quinta Normal Park as the place where the art exhibition would be displayed – at the Centro de Extensión Balmaceda Arte Joven – later also becoming the starting point for the theatre piece.

The park, as a site where many things started, like the trees grown there and later transplanted to streets and avenues throughout the city, such as the Alameda, confirmed its powerful, if somewhat ambiguous, sense of beginning. Enacted in the first scene of the play, with the celebration of the marriage and pregnancy of a young Mapuche couple back in 1960, this sense of beginning is far from temporally or spatially straightforward. The couple’s offspring is there, observing the ceremony from a distance – the Comandante Boliviano, the speechless protagonist of the piece who accompanies the audience across the city. The current generation encounters the previous one in the park, and her gaze is capable of reinventing the past all over again; under the silent eye of the Comandante, a Mapuche ceremony is performed, something that would not easily have happened in those years. It seems unlikely that a group of newly arrived migrants would have performed an indigenous ceremony in an urban park in the Chilean capital. Indeed, when they met there, they wore their best clothes as in Munizaga’s pictures, rather than traditional ones. Today, Mapuche gathering in the park are – on the contrary – marked by indigenous clothes, symbols, and traditional practices. The choice of enacting a ceremony and setting it unrealistically in the past is part of the gesture of claiming a Mapuche emplacement within the city, rejecting the invisibility of urban migration. Yet the doubts expressed by the play’s characters about undertaking the ceremony in the ‘Mapuche way’ point to the tensions and contradictions of the indigenous belonging in the city. The audience, actively involved in performing a ceremony that was happening but probably would not have taken place back in the 1960s, is asked precisely to embrace those frictions. For what had not and could not happen back then can still be staged and enacted in the ‘as if’ now: the past is a creative substance to play with, in the entangled routes of migration.

Quinta Normal Park

From the Quinta to the Colony

1 This exchange took place during the workshop held in the Quinta Normal Park, in July 2018. Claudio was introducing the site and the creative exercise proposed by the organising team (himself, Roberto, and Olivia). The performative intervention that took place immediately after this dialogue was a mimetic reproduction of pictures taken in the context of the first anthropological study of Mapuche migrants in Santiago (Munizaga 1961). This exercise of embodiment and enactment was later translated into the installation El Jardín, which is addressed in the next paragraph. For more insights on the meaning of the Quinta Normal Park for the indigenous diaspora in Santiago, see Antileo Baeza, Alvarado Lincopi (2017 and 2018); Alvarado Lincopi (2021). This chapter builds on discussion also elaborated in Casagrande (2021).
2 The reference to the human zoos in the context of the Universal Exhibitions is particularly meaningful for broader Mapuche history, as a group of them were subjected to this violent practice during the previous century (see Báez, Mason 2006). Martín’s critique underlines how both the National Museum of Natural History and the Acclimatisation Garden were involved in practices of ‘displaying’ indigenous bodies, objects, and traditions, something that is also related to the anthropological work of Munizaga, as we will see in this chapter.
3 Vicuña Mackenna (1831–86), a law graduate, was a Chilean writer, journalist and politician. He served as mayor of Santiago between 1872 and 1875, during which he dedicated his efforts to transforming the city. Inspired by the work of Hausmann and indeed aiming to turn Santiago into the ‘Paris of the Americas’, one of his endeavours was to transform the Santa Lucía/Welen Hill into an urban garden, as we will see in Chapter 4 (see Vicuña Mackenna 1872).
4 Munizaga analyses what he calls ‘transitional structures’ as processes of integration; namely, social structures allowing migrants to ‘transition’ from life in Mapuche communities to urban areas. These processes were understood by the anthropologist as forms of assimilation leading to the disappearance of indigeneity in the urban setting (see Imilán 2010: 20).
5 The extracts in the following sections come from discussions held during the first workshop and successive cartographic workshops, in March and November 2018. The objects that some of us refer to were a way of presenting oneself to the group.
6 See also the feminist critique to Writing Culture (Abu-Lughod 1991; Behar and Gordon 1996).
7 Breadmakers and housemaids were probably the most common occupations. Characterised by long hours and very little free time (one free Sunday afternoon every second week), these jobs were undertaken when first arriving in the city, also because they often entailed living in the master’s house or in the bakeries. Notably, Mapuche working in these occupations engaged in important trade union participation (see Antileo Baeza 2015; Alvarado Lincopi 2017).
8 Domestic violence and alcoholism were among the consequences of extremely difficult life conditions. Addressing and questioning this is at the core of recent indigenous feminist mobilisations within the Mapuche political movement (see Chapter 3, ‘Racialised trajectories’, this volume).
9 Among the members of the Colectivo MapsUrbe some have undergone or are currently undergoing this process, and a few are Mapuzugun teachers, such as Rodrigo Huenchún Pardo and Simona Mayo.
10 The term was employed by Rodrigo during one of the workshops (see Chapter 4, ‘Welcome to the future’). One of the main reference points for this creative use of language is David Aniñir Guiltraro, the Mapurbe poet (see Introduction).
11 Visually, this paragraph plays with the pictures mimicking those taken by Munizaga, reproducing the same ‘multiplying effect’ entailed in the displaying of hundreds of copies in the artwork El Jardín. This multiplying is linked to the many ways in which being Mapuche is embodied and enacted in the city, thus reworking traditional concepts such as that of the tuwün (see Casagrande 2021). For a discussion of the concept of tuwün and Mapuche territorial belonging, see Morales (2002); Quidel, Caniullan (2003); Huenchula, Cárdenas, Ancalaf (2004); Dillehay (2007); Calbucura and Le Bonniec (2009); Di Giminiani (2018).
12 The ‘open wound’ is to be understood within the broader political and historical context of forced migration and diaspora, and the loss of land and impoverishment of indigenous rural communities following the military occupation of their territory (see Marimán et al. 2006; Antileo Baeza et al. 2015). While Mapuche urban life, especially among youths, is undoubtedly resourceful and creative, it is nevertheless also related to the pain and violence in historical memories of displacement (see Huenchún Pardo, ‘Memory and pain’, Chapter 6 in this volume).
13 In Santiago’s peripheries, there are multiple forms of housing, contributing to shaping particular forms of identification. The most common within the popular world are the so-called poblaciones, affectively nicknamed poblas, which derive from processes of land seizures or self-construction during the 1960s and 1970s. There are also barrios and villas, which represent middle-class areas or housing projects planned by the state. Finally, the last few decades have seen the building of the so-called condominiums, gated communities and middle-class neighbourhoods located in peripheral sectors of the city.
14 The audience is now wearing headphones. The play audios can be accessed on the website page, with Track 2 corresponding to this section:
15 A popular and renowned park covering a long stretch along the Mapocho River in downtown Santiago, it is one of the few green spots in the city centre.
16 This is an excerpt from an interview Claudio had with his mother, Jimena Lincopi Collio, as part of the book Santiago waria mew on Mapuche migration to Santiago, written with Enrique Antileo Baeza (see Antileo Baeza, Alvardo Lincopi 2017).
17 While aristocrats and the bourgeoisie previously lived in the monumental city centre, from the 1950s and 1960s the upper classes moved toward the eastern sectors of the city, closer to the cordillera. This is referred to in the literature as the ‘high income cone’, and is characterised by luxury houses, better services, less pollution, and the recently increasing building of gated communities (see Link, Valenzuela, Fuentes 2015; Agostini, Hojman, Románx, Román 2016).
18 The earthquake of Valdivia, on 22 May 1960, the most powerful ever recorded (between 9.4 and 9.6), which also led to a devastating tsunami.
19 ‘Paseo de los Indios’. The word indio in Spanish is pejorative, even if it has been often appropriated by indigenous people themselves. In this case it retains its strong, negative connotations.
20 This section, like the other live scenes in the play, was reworked during the staging of the play as the performers added bits and pieces of their own creation, often improvising. Throughout the book, the text always refers to the first version of the script.
21 One of the neighbourhoods where migrants arriving from the south settled in the 1950s and 1960s, in the then southern outskirts of Santiago, and where the slaughterhouse in which many Mapuche men used to work was situated.
22 The song, by the Mapuche singer and performer Daniela Millaleo, can be heard on the project website:
23 A silent guide for the audience from this point until the end of the performance, the Comandante Boliviano represents Lucy and Rafael’s offspring, and more broadly, the current generation of young Mapuche living in Santiago. See Chapter 4.
24 The performance audios can be accessed on the website page for this section corresponding to Tracks 3 and 4:
25 The Plaza de Armas is the main square in downtown Santiago, where the first colonial settlement was raised during the Spanish Conquista. Today, there are several important historical monuments and landmarks around the square (see Chapter 2, this volume). Here, the ironic reference is to the kilometre zero mark, from which all physical distances within the country are measured, critically addressed by playing with the figurative meaning of these ‘national distances’ from an indigenous point of view.
26 The Plaza de Armas is thought to have been the site of an Inca ceremonial centre long before the Spanish invasion. The valley where Santiago was founded was most probably a place of exchange for diverse indigenous populations of the area. It was occupied by the Inca in the late fifteenth century, serving as a basis for military expeditions heading south, which were defeated by indigenous groups inhabiting that part of the current Chilean territory (see Bengoa 2008; Millalén 2006).
27 Michimalogko was an indigenous cacique of the Picun che group, inhabiting the Mapocho valley at the time of the arrival of the Spanish. On 11 September 1541, he attacked the recently founded city of Santiago and was able to set it on fire, with the aim of liberating the caciques who had been imprisoned there. Pedro de Valdivia was heading south to conquer other territories, and the story goes that it was his lover, Inés de Suárez, who defended the city in his absence, and that she cut off the heads of all the imprisoned caciques and threw them onto the battlefield, defeating her astonished indigenous opponents (Vivar 2002).
28 This audio plays with time travelling, using the metro journey as an underground space where different times juxtapose and intersect. The track is made up of cuts taken from radio programmes, and the sound effect gives the impression of someone trying to tune in to a station, losing and changing channels. The shifting announcements refer to historical episodes, both in Chile and abroad, in order to eventually set the striking parallel between two specific moments in time: the defeat of Michimalogko and the Pinochet dictatorship. The radio jumps from the Chilean earthquake in 2015, to the famous football penalty by the Chilean player Caszely during the 1985 World Cup. It then jumps from the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in the USA in 2001 to the historical escape from prison of a member of the revolutionary paramilitary organisation Frente Patriotico Manuel Rodríguez in 1996, and on to the related case of the homicide of Jaime Guzmán in 1991, a former counsellor of Augusto Pinochet during the dictatorship. The final ‘jump’ is the most significant one, right to 11 September 1973. The date 11 September in 1541, when Michimalogko was defeated, and in 1973, when General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte took power by overthrowing the government of the socialist Salvador Allende through a military coup, mirror one another. The recursivity of (post)colonial history (Antileo Baeza 2012; Antileo Baeza et al. 2015; Stoler 2016) is illustrated by paralleling these two moments of extreme violence. This history is somehow materialised in the south-eastern corner of the Plaza de Armas, where colonial architecture and buildings from the 1980s intermix.
29 From the radio speech by Augusto Pinochet Ugarte immediately after he took over the country. The specific sound resulting from Pinochet’s voice, his peculiar tone, and the background noise, is unmistakeably and immediately recognisable, painfully at the core of the collective memory of that violent moment in Chilean history.
30 ‘Nueva Extremadura’ refers to the original name given to the territory by Pedro de Valdivia, in honour of his native Extremadura in Spain. This is a fictionalisation of a historical letter written by Pedro de Valdivia to the King of Spain in 1541, recounting how Santiago had been occupied and set on fire by Michimalogko.
31 Another fragment of the radio speech by Augusto Pinochet Ugarte on 11 September 1973.

Performing the jumbled city

Subversive aesthetics and anticolonial indigeneity in Santiago de Chile


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