The Colonial Politic in State Building: The Racial Imaginations of Chile’s Agency of Colonization, Paris, 188295

Friday, January 4, 2019: 8:50 AM
Salon 1 (Palmer House Hilton)
Romina Akemi Green Rioja, University of California, Irvine
Chilean historiography has long ignored race as a socio-economic construct defining its modern history (Stoler 2009). This paper follows the activities of Chile’s Agency of Colonization (1882-1895) in Europe and its recruitment of ethnic German farmers to populate former native Mapuche territory. Chile’s colonization/immigration policies emerged at a moment when the frontier collapsed following Chile’s invasion of Mapuche lands in the south and Peruvian and Bolivian nitrate mines in the north, exalting confidence by the Chilean elite as a regional power. I argue that the Agency led what I describe as the German turn—the Chilean elite’s racial and economic plan to Prussianize its institutions and populace—to displace the Mapuche from their lands with German families and to hasten the spread of industrial capitalism (Klubock 2014; Stepan 1982). I demonstrate that the Chilean elite’s desire to modernize drove them to whiten the nation and adopt Germany’s military and industrial might. This study uses Agency reports and pamphlets to show how Chilean attachés participated in transnational debates that rationalized colonization as a nation-building stratagem and created race as the ultimate signifier of citizenry. The Chilean ruling class saw German and Austro-Swiss colonizers as loyal contributors to the nation in contrast to the Mapuche who, they described, as noble warriors and inhibitors of progress. The erasure of “disloyal” Mapuche was the solution to the Chilean elite’s plan to industrialize the South and unify the nation.