A Complicated Game of Friendship: Epistolary Exchanges and Neo-Colonial Relations in Modern Chile

  • Joanna Elizabeth Crow University of Bristol
  • Allison Ramay Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Keywords Chile, Colonialism, Friendship, Exchange Mapuche
Keywords Chile, Colonialism, Friendship, Exchange Mapuche


This article explores how friendship, as a discursive act, plays out in communications between indigenous Mapuche leaders and non-Mapuche Chileans. It traces the continuities and shifts between Mapuche political leaders’ references to and understandings of friendship in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and then compares these historical articulations of friendship with the present-day, when conflict and violence seem to eclipse friendship in most discussions about Mapuche-Chilean (state) relations. We seek to map out some of the changes in language acts from the early nineteenth century through to the twenty-first century, in order to further understand how the current stalemate has come about. There is a vast body of primary source material available from which we can draw these language acts. To allow for in depth analysis in each of the three sections of the paper, we use key written exchanges as snapshots of what we see as broader scenarios of interaction and negotiation.   

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