Endangered Archives

EAP030: Identification of the potential corpus for a Mapuche special historical collection

Dr Rolf Foerster, University of Chile
2005 award - Pilot project
£9,621 for 9 months

Project Overview

After 300 years of resistance to the Spanish imperial army, the Mapuche people of Araucania and the Pampas were progressively colonised by the young state-nations of Chile and Argentina. This carried the social and cultural consequences of a colonial domination: loss of the Mapudungun language, impoverishment, discrimination, lands usurpations etc. A Mapuche political movement was formed to defend their rights, lands and culture as a racial and ethnic minority. The Mapuche had a tradition of literacy that was continued throughout this period.

The surviving Mapuche texts are fragmented in more than 25 archives, libraries, private or public collections or as single volumes of manuscripts kept by different members of the author’s family.

This pilot project aims to identify material available for a major project to form a Mapuche Special Collection, containing historical, political and ethnographical documents, written by Mapuche people in Spanish and Mapudungun between 1800 and 1950.

Project Outcome

17 archives were surveyed containing materials related to Mapuche culture and history.

The catalogued and/or identified materials included documents spanning the years 1860 - 2000, with the majority of the documents having been produced in the period 1950 - 2000. In total, 883 documentary records were catalogued (half of them for the 1950 - 2000 period), amounting to approximately 7,600 folios.

The documents can be subdivided into the following categories:

  • legal files relating to trials involving Mapuche people and property;
  • letters from Mapuche leaders and intellectuals;
  • manuscripts or unpublished texts by Mapuche leaders and intellectuals;
  • letters from non-Mapuche scientists involved with Mapuche society, language and culture studies;
  • letters sent to Mapuche leaders and intellectuals by Mapuche and non-Mapuche people;
  • Rare periodicals or single publications edited by Mapuche organisations or Mapuche actors; g) Rare periodicals or single publications edited by non-Mapuche persons and related to Mapuche culture, language or history,
  • pictures.

The fieldwork was mainly carried out in the following areas:

  • the Araucanía region (Temuko, Quepe, Angol, Nueva Imperial, Labranza, La Paz , Loncoche), where 12 homes and institutions were visited. Here 10 archives were located and catalogued.
  • The Biobio region (Cañete, Cayucupil, Concepción, Chihuayllante, Los Angeles ), where more than 10 homes and institutions were visited. Two archives were located and catalogued (in Concepción and Chihuayllante).
  • The Metropolitan Region (Santiago , Nuñoa, Lo Espejo), where two homes and several institutions were visited, finding and cataloguing 4 archives.
  • The Valparaiso Region (Viña del Mar), where one home was visited, and found and catalogued a single archive.

Four of the archives mentioned remain partially catalogued:

  • The Julio Abasolo Museum 's archive in Angol, because of its magnitude (40 linear metres of documents, which require efforts which exceeded the aims and timing of the present project).
  • The Sociedad Newen's archive in Temuko (15 linear metres of documents).
  • The Vicente Mariqueo's archive in Temuko.
  • The Rodolfo Lenz archive of the Metropolitan Educational Sciences University ( Santiago ) (due to the well conserved state of the documentation and the institutional concern surrounding it, it was decided not to prioritize the exhaustive cataloguing of this 8 linear metres of archival material).