On subaltern urban historiography: Locating Nona Fernández’s Mapocho between decolonization and urban social movements

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Abstract

This article makes a triple intervention into discussions about the relationship between subaltern collective memory, urban historiography and urban social movements. First, and more theoretically, I argue that grassroots urban social movements require a corresponding history to unite people into a collective urban social agent. In short, there are no urban social movements without a shared urban history to bring them together. The cultural struggle over defining a city’s urban meaning is waged not only by material political fights, but also over how we represent the past of our cities. Second, I argue that ruling urban classes circulate and popularize their own urban history in order to disrupt autonomous grassroots urban history formation. Third, and lastly, said historiographical struggle manifests itself in how we represent the pasts of Indigenous peoples in the cities of the Americas. I make this argument through a critical reading of Nona Fernández’s representation of the Indigenous past of Santiago de Chile in her 2002 novel Mapocho.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-241
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Urban Cultural Studies
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Chile
  • Mapuche
  • collective memory
  • myth
  • subalternity
  • urban history

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