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Im/mobile Others in Chile. (Re)defining Race and the Nation-State from Indigenous and Migrants’ Perspectives

(2019 - en cours)
Anne Lavanchy (HETS-GE), Denisse Sepulveda Sanchez (HETS-GE), Céline Heini (HETS-GE)


The project sheds light on a blank spot in the interconnections between race and the nation-state, addressed from the compelling vantage point of mobility, and its counterpart, immobility. Challenging any nation-state, the management of internal heterogeneity is characterized in Chile by a national ideology that exalts both the white superiority and the national mestizaje (the mythology of the nation as resulting from the mixing between indigenous Mapuche and European settlers). This ideology is currently challenged by new configurations of racialized insiders and outsiders through the recomposition of immigration patterns in the country. Thus, the project draws upon two interconnected assumptions that are global in scope, though regionally differentiated in their effects. The first is that jointly considering the othering processes aimed at, on the one hand, the Mapuche – defined as intra-national, permanent, and a-historical others – and, on the other hand, the migrants – as too mobile, extra-national others – allows for better understanding of global mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion. The second assumption argues that othering processes organized around im/mobility, as the two poles of one single continuum, constitute silent forms of racialization that shape the current (re)definitions of the nations-states.

This pioneer study in political and legal anthropology promises to offer innovative insights at empirical as well as heuristic levels. First, it will provide with much-needed qualitative data of still unexplored socio-political configurations. Second, it will allow for a thorough reevaluation of state mechanisms of categorizations. Third, it will question the arbitrary compartmentalization between three fields of scholar knowledge: indigenism, mobility, and critical race studies, the juxtaposition of which will lead to inspiring analytical findings


Fonds national suisse de la recherche scientifique (FNS)


Diversité et citoyenneté
Insertion et exclusion
Politiques publiques et sociales
Racisme, discrimination et droits humains