Media narratives on Mapuche hunger strikes in Chile: Constructing ethnic, national and gender identities

Maria Trinidad Valle, Fordham University


The present research focuses on the media narratives covering the Mapuche hunger strikes of 2008 and 2010 in Chile. The objective of the research is to identify and compare the preferred mainstream and ethnic media narratives constructing notions of ethnicity, nationality and gender, as well as, contribute to the current public debate on ethnicity and nationality in Chile. The narratives identified within the mainstream media in 2008 and 2010, pointed to the discursive strategy of the ideological square reinforcing the boundaries between “us” and “them,” as well as, on supposedly Mapuche violence and terrorist actions, and the Mapuche strikers’ alleged disregard for Chilean legislation. By selecting such narratives, the demands and claims of the Mapuche activists were delegitimized and situated outside the borders of the Nation. In terms of gender, the mainstream media illustrated how ethnic and gender boundaries combine to create a unique narrative of exclusion. Female bodies and actions were scrutinized, policed and supervised in relation to a normative standard of femininity; such focus on the gendered body and its transgressions was absent in the case of male strikers. In the case of the ethnic media, the preferred narratives criticized the role of the Chilean State in the repression and criminalization of Mapuche social protest, and the role of the neoliberal expansion in the exploitation and endangering of Mapuche territories and natural resources. The ethnic media also gave preferential attention to the historical context of the conflict, absent in the mainstream media, and the solidarity of the international community with the indigenous movement. The ethnic media narratives can be seen as an example of de-colonial forms of knowledge. In conclusion, the dissertation spells out how media narratives contribute to the construction of notions of ethnicity, nationality and gender. The dissertation highlighted the centrality of the perspectives of coloniality and intersectionality to study how gendered and racialized bodies are subjected to particular narratives of exclusion within mainstream media, and what spaces for alternative narratives are possible.

Subject Area

Latin American Studies|Political science|Ethnic studies|Social structure|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Valle, Maria Trinidad, "Media narratives on Mapuche hunger strikes in Chile: Constructing ethnic, national and gender identities" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10013399.