Creating Educational Utopias: Interculturality, ‘Re-indigenization’ and the Pluriverse

Authors: Grace Garside*,
Topics: Latin America, Development, Indigenous Peoples
Keywords: Indigenous, Decolonising, Education, Mapuche, Chile, Latin America, Girlhood, Pedagogies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Congressional A, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since the 19th century schooling has been promoted as a universal good, with colonial powers, missionaries and now development practitioners encouraging the “civilising” nature of schooling for indigenous children. More recently the focus has been on schooling girls, through the World Bank’s “smart economics” programme. Smart economics argues that investing in girls speeds up economic development and produces various social returns, such as reduced fertility and increased child survival rates. However, despite its popularity among development practitioners, critics argue that schools are not innocent sites of education but tools for implementing state led capitalism. Within the indigenous community schooling has been implicitly and explicitly a site of rejection for indigenous knowledges and languages, with curriculums that aim to assimilate indigenous children into a “national” identity.

Based on a year of participatory research in Temuco, Chile, this paper reflects on the experiences of Mapuche girls within the Municipal education system. It describes the effects of a nationalising syllabus that at best folklorises Mapuche culture and at worst demonises Mapuche identity, whilst all the while claiming to be “intercultural”. The paper reveals resistance from Mapuche activists who challenge spaces of formal education and are restoring traditional Mapuche educational practices of listening and performing. However, the presentation will also examine the ways in which masculinist ideologies exclude Mapuche, urban and poor girls from educational utopias and encourages a reimagination of Chilean systems of education from indigenous, feminine perspectives. The paper will include extracts from the participatory documentary “The Seeds: Women of Wallmapu”.

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