History ETDs


Scott Crago

Publication Date



This dissertation analyzes the administrative structure and development of Chiles indigenous policies under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), taking as its focus a pilot project for indigenous Mapuche integration known as Plan Perquenco. Existing scholarship provides important analyses of the impact of the military regime's 1979 indigenous law, Decree Law 2568, which legalized the division and privatization of Mapuche communal lands. However, land division was not the sole mechanism of the regime's indigenous policy. The Ministry of Agriculture, in consultation with the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), designed Plan Perquenco to ensure that after land division, Mapuche men would become private landowners and market-oriented farmers. Plan Perquenco also perpetuated the Chilean state's previous indigenous policies. The Ministry of Agriculture relied on existing portrayals of irrational Mapuche agricultural practices, which had first gained prominence in the nineteenth century, to justify programs to eradicate Mapuche cultural traits that officials argued limited scientific and modern agricultural development. Furthermore, Plan Perquenco continued the goals of earlier agrarian reform efforts, which the military regime ridiculed as ineffective, to argue that the formation of male-headed nuclear families would solve rural economic and cultural stagnation. The administrative structure of Plan Perquenco, however, prevented the full implementation of these policies. Under the regime's model for regionalization, municipalities had to coordinate development initiatives with the aid of a variety of public and private institutions, rather than the central state. Municipally-based programs such as Plan Perquenco were therefore not a unified front of state formation, but rather a mixture of local, national, and international institutions, with at times differing and conflicting goals, that coordinated reform efforts in Mapuche communities. I focus on the different political inclinations of the six agricultural technicians who managed Plan Perquenco to explain how the political diversity of local bureaucracies limited the success of the regime's indigenous policies. By centering the effects of administrative inconsistency in my analysis, I offer insights into how Mapuche exploited state-run reform programs to affirm their cultural rights. Oral interviews demonstrate that under Plan Perquenco, Mapuche youths used their participation in the recreation programs coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture, such as football leagues and music classes, to contest the gendered and ethnic ideals embodied in the ministry's reform programs. My focus on Plan Perquenco therefore exposes the relationship between the military regime's indigenous policies and longer trajectories of state formation, how the administrative structure of these programs limited their application, and finally how Mapuche exploited bureaucratic inconsistencies to ensure the regime's reform efforts benefitted their communities.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Gauderman, Kimberly

Second Committee Member

Bieber, Judy

Third Committee Member

Field, Les

Fourth Committee Member

Tinsman, Heidi



Project Sponsors

Latin American and Iberian Institute, UNM Department of History, UNM Bilinski Educational Foundation

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