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Intercultural Bilingual Education in Chilean classrooms: Exploring youth identity, multiculturalism and nationalism

Abstracts from Journal Articles and Conference Papers

"Mapuche Demands during Educational Reform, the Penguin Revolution and the Chilean Winter of Discontent", Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, Vol.13(2).

Enduring inequalities in Chile’s education system are both a socio-economic and ethno-national problem. Student protests in 2006 and 2011 are representative of growing public concerns over the neo-liberal socio-economic model adopted by respective governments since the military regime ended in 1990. Education has also become a contested space in which the recognition of indigenous rights – and cultural and linguistic diversity in particular – have been negotiated. This paper presents an analysis of the history of Mapuche struggles over education, in light of recent neoliberal reforms and political protests. Reforms to address large achievement differentials among indigenous populations have come through proposals for Intercultural Bilingual Education (IBE) in Chile and these, we suggest, have challenged the hegemonic education system and its assimilatory mechanisms. However its current administration reflects minimal commitments to indigenous rights and only the thinnest recognition of cultural difference. Instead the status quo of mono-cultural and mono-linguistic Chilean nationalism continues to be transmitted via the national curriculum.

“Difference and statecraft in Chile: Indigenous professional registers of engagement in the politics of education” To be submitted to a journal in Latin American Studies

This article provides grounded evidence for how school spaces construct racial/ethnic meanings across a range of educational layers, and the responses that they provoke among indigenous youth. We suggest that pupils’ negotiations regarding race-ethnicity and education are ambivalent and precarious. Historical geographies of education in Chile precluded indigenous pupil participation and today secondary schooling sites remain segregated from many indigenous communities, forcing rural Mapuche pupils to reside in boarding houses during the school week. Coupled with this marginalisation, schooling perpetuates broader socio-economic and racial hierarchies of inequality by assimilating pupils into dominant Chilean culture which excludes cultural diversity. We address how pupils from different schooling contexts, including the government’s recent initiatives to incorporate a more ethnically diverse curriculum in a limited number of schools, respond to these whitening processes and how they judge the (in)appropriateness of the education system.

“Citizenship practices among Mapuche youth in Chile: Trajectories from the classroom to civil society ” To be submitted to a Journal in the field of Citizenship Studies

In this article we demonstrate, within the socio-political history of Chile, how a non-indigenous or de-ethnicised citizenry is constructed with particular reference to the socialising vehicle of education. We provide a bridge across three broad strands of literature: youth citizenship and politics; geographies of citizenship education and racialised schooling in the Andes so as to consider racialised schooling inequalities as part of a broader neoliberal project of economic and cultural reproduction, and pupils’ engagement with and meaning-making trajectories of civic values and participation within educational spaces and broader society. Drawing on empirical research conducted in four secondary schools with Mapuche pupils, we analyse both the implicit and explicit schooling practices of mono-cultural subject production and how this informs the opinions of these citizens regarding wider society, and their transition into it.

“Mapuche youth between exclusion and the future: Youth, civic society and citizenship in Chile”, Oaxaca Conference, October 2013

Mapuche youth are at the heart of discursive and political contests over citizenship, belonging, and development futures in Chile. Although young people believe their distinctive political voice goes unheard and their participation is ineffectual (Martínez et al 2012), the representation of indigenous youth in political discourse, media and scholarship reveals a complex picture of their position in Chilean public life. Echoing wider images of Mapuche groups as violent and potential terrorists (Richards 2010), press coverage highlights young peoples’ recruitment into Mapuche activism, their deaths at the hands of police, their involvement in performative protest such as hunger strikes, and their role as negotiators and diplomats on behalf of Mapuche demands. Whether as martyrs or criminals, young people embody the unresolved tensions around citizenship and belonging (Terwindt 2009; Mitchell 2013; Arnot & Swartz 2012). In this context, our paper draws on extensive qualitative research work with rural Mapuche young people (13-18 years) in secondary education, focussed on their responses to public discourses around Mapuche groups, youth activism, and their imagination of Chile’s future. We argue that this generation of Mapuche are located at a specific conjuncture: the first generation to have wide access to secondary education, they are also growing up in the context of tardy efforts by the Chilean state to meld multicultural agendas. They are also becoming citizens at a time when Mapuche activism is increasingly represented in public discourse as criminal, yet intercultural primary and secondary education nominally approves the appreciation of Mapuche ethnic identity.

“Racialised experiences of education in Chile: Mapuche pupil responses to mono-cultural classroom practices and curricula” BERA Conference, Sept 3rd-5th 2013

Concerns over the equity of the Chilean education system received global recognition following student mobilisations and protests during 2011 and 2012. Neoliberal reforms to education during the military dictatorship exacerbated existing income and socioeconomic differentials among the national population. Amongst those most affected are ethnic minorities, and in particular indigenous populations (comprising 7% nationally). Existing research demonstrates that within the skewed education system, indigenous pupils suffer from worse access to high achieving schools and on average obtain lower test-scores than non-indigenous pupils. Explanations for these inequalities require an analysis of racialised experiences of schooling. In this paper, we provide grounded evidence of how race and ethnicity come together in education processes for Mapuche pupils, and the responses that they provoke. We suggest that pupils’ negotiations regarding race-ethnicity and education are ambivalent and precarious. On the one hand, pupils continue to be uprooted from family and communities during their weekly boarding in schools, while on the other ‘supplementary’ Intercultural Bilingual Education provides more of a folkloric cultural dimension of Mapuche identity and fails to address epistemic violence or racism.