Ethno-Cultural Identity Formation in Mapuche Youth Biographies: A Case Study from the Perspective of Colonial and Transgenerational Historical

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Biographies, ethnic identity, historical and colonial trauma, Youth, indigenous


In this paper, we present evidence from a case study exploring the intricate relationship between transgenerational historical and colonial trauma and the process of ethno-cultural identity formation among young Mapuche individuals residing in rural communities in Chile. Our analysis centers on two prominent themes derived from their personal narratives, shedding light on the intergenerational dynamics that significantly influence the current development of their ethno-cultural identities. These themes are the communication and transmission of family history and memory, and the valuation of Mapuche culture. Our methodology employs biographical narratives and adopts a grounded theory approach, specifically in its constructivist variant. The findings of this study reveal that the biographies of these young individuals reflect distinct elements of emotional impact and coping strategies linked to historical and colonial trauma, which are transmitted across generations. In one case, there appears to be a tendency to conceal family history, while in the other, active preservation of memory seems to underpin reflections on identity, belonging, and the appropriation of Mapuche culture. Furthermore, our analysis highlights the significance of emotional connections with family, as well as individual expectations and future aspirations, which play pivotal roles in shaping motivations and expressions concerning Mapuche ethno-cultural affiliation or disassociation. We contend that these intricate dynamics mediate the formation of ethno-cultural identity among Mapuche young people.


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Author Biographies

Gabriela Garcés Pérez, Universidad de La Frontera

Gabriela Garcés-Pérez is currently a PhD Candidate in Social Sciences and holds a Master's degree in Community Public Health and Local Development from the Universidad de la Frontera. She is an Anthropologist, having graduated from the Catholic University of Temuco. Her research focuses on youth ethnic identity formation, Historical colonial trauma, Transgenerational resilience, Health anthropology, and Community prevention. She is a Fellow of the National Research Agency (ANID) and is sponsored by the Center for Conflict and Social Cohesion Studies-COES.

Johanna Sagner-Tapia, Universidad de La Frontera

Johanna Sagner-Tapia is an academic at the Núcleo de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades of the Universidad de La Frontera in Temuco, Chile. She is a Special Education Teacher, holds a master's degree in Anthropology from the University of Chile, and earned a PhD in Social Sciences and Education from the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. Her research interests encompass Biographical Research, Educational Anthropology and Disability Studies.

Ana M. Alarcón, Universidad de La Frontera

Ana María Alarcón Muñoz is a Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Universidad de la Frontera. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Connecticut, USA, as well as a Master's degree in Applied Social Sciences and Nursing from the Universidad de la Frontera. Her research interests include Health and Ethnicity, Medical Anthropology, Health Measurement, and Social Determinants.


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How to Cite

Garcés Pérez, G. ., Sagner-Tapia, J., & Alarcón, A. M. (2024). Ethno-Cultural Identity Formation in Mapuche Youth Biographies: A Case Study from the Perspective of Colonial and Transgenerational Historical . Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 11(2), 164–189.



Original Manuscript
Received 2023-09-15
Accepted 2024-01-26
Published 2024-05-26