In this research project, I question current notions of indigenous historical consciousness in Latin America and offer new ways of thinking about the dynamic relationships among myth, indigenous history, and Western history. I show how Mapuche people in Chile construct myth histories by aggregating the personal experiences of shamans—collapsing the identities of prominent, newly deceased shamans and chiefs into those of previously deceased personages or mythical characters—and recognizing the periodic re-embodiment of the spirits of past shamans in new bodies. I argue that shamans are crucial to the production of Mapuche myth history because of their potential for rebirth and as means for historical continuity.
The research partner would facilitate my project by finding bibliographic information on the ways in which anthropologists have conceived the relationship among myth, history, and indigenous people and by mapping out these different approaches. In the process, the student will learn to make critical assessments of library materials and to identify different paradigms. This project will also benefit greatly from the research partner scanning and digitizing images for book publication and assisting in creation of PowerPoint presentations.