The Mapuche conflict in Chile: The linguistic struggle - a future hope of revitalization and recognition?


Wednesday 6 November, 14.00-14.30, E0104

In Chile, the official language is Spanish. None of the original languages of Chile has been recognized as official language. In recent years, many other countries in Latin America have recognized their indigenous languages as official languages, for instance Bolivia, where President Morales has recognized Aymara, Quechua and Guarani as official languages using language policy in the construction of the new Bolivian state. Although Chile has signed the Unesco Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, promoting the rights of linguistic minorities to urge the States to work for it, there has been no recognition of the most important group of indigenous people in Chile, the Mapuche. For this reason, the Chilean government has been criticized by the UN for its discrimination against the Mapuche people (Liberona, 2009).

Currently the Mapuche language, the Mapudungun, is in a decline phase (Gundermann, Canihuan, Claveria, Faundez, 2011). The language is used in the most traditional families, but speakers in new cultural spaces require the use of the language as a modern and functional languge (Loncon, 2012). The people speaking Mupundungún in the Chilean society are being discriminated, because of the lack of recognition of indigenous languages and cultures and a Chilean language policy. The paper will discuss whether there is any hope of revitalization and recognition of the Mapudungún. 

GUNDERMANN, HANS/ CANIHUAN, JAQUELINE/ CLAVERÍA, ALEJANDRO/ FAÚNDEZ, CÉSAR (2011), “El mapuzugun, una lengua en retroceso” en Atenea N° 503- I Sem. 2011: 111-131. 
LIBERONA, NANETTE (2009), “La ONU revela crítica situación de los DDHH en Chile” en Rebelión.17.09.2009. 
LONCÓN, ELISA A. (2012), “Mapundungún, voz de la tierra, ISEES (Inclusión Social e Equidad en la Educación Superior, 1-3.