2011-2012 Colloquium Series

Marcela Palomino-Schalscha (PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, University of Canterbury, Aotearoa New Zealand) will present "Moving Beyond Neoliberalism and Nature"

Friday, March 2, 4:00 PM
Room 101, 2251 College Avenue
Archeological Research Facility
University of California, Berkeley

Colonisation, dispossession and diverse forms of resistance and self-determination have been constant in the history of the Mapuche people of Chile, the country’s largest indigenous group. Recent events have brought this long and complex history into the forefront among the Chilean society and beyond. As for other indigenous groups around the world, tourism has been identified as a development option for Mapuche communities, resulting nevertheless problematic for a number of reasons.

Questioning ideas of neoliberalism and nature, this presentation will explore how through Trekaleyin, a Mapuche-Pewenche tourism initiative, community members are defending their rights and connections to territory and "nature" in a neoliberal context. Bringing together academic work on neoliberal natures and relational ontologies, this presentation -part of my PhD research- will first examine the consequences of the technocratic and economicist management of nature in Chile in general and in Alto Bío-Bío in particular. Later, by focusing on the discourses and practices through which Trekaleyin engages with and subverts these processes of neoliberalisation of nature, I will explore the ways in which its members are destabilising and hybridising neoliberalism, as well as questioning what counts as “nature” and putting forward Pewenche ontologies. Thus, situated in Alto Bío-Bío, Chile’s poorest municipality commonly represented as a site of failure, conflict and helplessness, this presentation examines creative and unexpected counter-hegemonic ways to relate to neoliberalism, nature and politics; loaded with ancestors, laughs, mountains, dreams, pain, histories and resistance.

Speaker Bio:
A PhD candidate in geography at the University of Canterbury, Aotearoa New Zealand, Marcela began her doctoral studies after having worked as a geographer in development and conservation for NGOs and state agencies in Chile, her home country. Her current research is inspired by the theoretical and practical concerns that emerged while she worked collaboratively with Trekaleyin, a Mapuche-Pewenche owned and operated tourism initiative, and by her commitment to build more just and equal spaces of co-existance. Her thesis examines the experience of Trekaleyin, and understands tourism as part of a broader and long history of resistance and struggles for autonomy, territory and decolonisation. Thus, from a poststructural and decolonising geographic approach, she aims to explore how, through their engagement in tourism, members of Trekaleyin are disrupting, expanding and hybridising discourses and practices around self-determination, development, the economy, nature and cross-cultural relations, with consequences that extend beyond the “local” and affect us all, indigenous and non-indigenous.

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