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The Conceptualisation of Mapuche Religion in Colonial Chile (1545-1787)

Eim, Stefan

German Title: Die Konzeptualisierung von Mapuchereligion im kolonialen Chile (1545-1787)

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The study analyses the conceptualisations of Mapuche Religion in colonial Chile, focusing on texts written by European soldiers, sailors, government officials, missionaries, chroniclers, (proto-)scientists and travellers between 1545 and 1787. Applying methods of postcolonial studies and discourse theory to the Chilean colonial context, the study interprets the descriptions of Mapuche Religion as a discourse of alterity, which needs to be analysed against the background of colonial mechanisms of interpretation (e.g. Eurocentric binaries, exoticisms, stereotypes). By providing an analysis of the Mapuche Religion discourse, the study has two general objectives: (1) Introducing Mapuche Religion to religious studies and thus provide a basis for future research in that area of investigation. (2) The study may also serve as a practical model for the further investigation of indigenous religions in other colonial contexts. The first part of the study thus provides a general overview on tendencies of interpretation in the Mapuche Spanish colonial context, discusses current results of the postcolonial and the Orientalism debates, argues for the necessity of taking the postcolonial turn in our discipline and, finally, debates the application of discourse analytical methods to the context of Mapuche Religion. The results of that first part are then employed in the second part of the study, which presents a detailed colonial discourse analysis of the Mapuche Religion discourse. Here our attention focuses on the doctrinal dimension of the conceptualisations of Mapuche Religion, which is further subdivided into five strands of discourse: Mapuche supernatural beings, religious specialists, postmortality, folk religious beliefs and mythology. Summarising and further analysing the results of the study in the third conclusive part of the book, we claim that Mapuche Religion was conceptualised in a colonial discourse of alterity as an unintelligible religion deviating from the ego’s Christian standard and, thus, worked as a crucial element in sustaining the ego’s exoticising mechanisms towards the Mapuche Other. Conclusively, we argue for a future religious studies that, by initialising a multi-perspectivical dialogue on religion, faces the challenges of a global comparison of religious colonialisms.

Translation of abstract (German)

Die Studie analysiert die Konzeptualisierungen von Mapuchereligion im kolonialen Chile. Der Fokus liegt dabei auf Texten, die von europäischen Soldaten, Seeleuten, Staatsbeamten, Missionaren, Chronisten, (Proto-)Wissenschaftlern und Reisenden zwischen 1545 und 1787 verfasst worden sind.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Ahn, Prof. Dr. Gregor
Date of thesis defense: 19 May 2010
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2010 10:08
Date: 2010
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Institut für Religionswissenschaft
Subjects: 290 Other and comparative religions
Controlled Keywords: Chile, Mapuche, Religionswissenschaft, Religion, Orientalismus
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mapuchereligion , Indigenenreligionen , PostkolonialstudienMapuche Religion , Indigenous Religions , Postcolonial Studies
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