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Perceived discrimination in Mapuche discourse : contemporary racism in Chilean society
journal contributionposted on 01.08.2009, 00:00 authored by M E Merino, David MellorDavid Mellor
This paper documents the experiences of perceived discrimination by Mapuches, the largest aboriginal group in Chile, focusing on their oral discourse about the phenomenon. As part of a national research project, 100 Mapuches were interviewed about their perception of discrimination toward them. These interviews were analyzed using the four-level method developed by Merino, which is mainly based on local semantic strategies and argumentative sequences and topoi. The analysis suggests that racism is experienced in everyday interethnic interactions by means of four modes: verbal, behavioral, institutional and macro-social. Verbal racism includes name-calling (e.g. 'indio' [Indian]) and stereotyping (e.g. 'primitive'), and prejudiced remarks. Behavioral racism includes looking, ignoring, avoiding, segregating and denial of identity. In the institutional mode, denial of opportunities and discrimination in various public offices, private institutions and services are frequent, with perpetrators acting on behalf of the institution for which they work. The macro-social mode includes cultural dominance of the economic and educational systems, and an ethnocentric perspective of history. The findings suggest the presence of a racist ideology underlying Mapuche's discursive reproduction of the way Chileans talk and think about them and behave toward them.