Narrating the nation: Chile's Museo Historico Nacional

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This article explores the role of museums in the social construction of national memories and identities, focusing on Chile's Museo Historico Nacional (National Historical Museum) and its representations of Mapuche history and culture. Created by state decree in 1911, the Museo Historico Nacional is one of the most conservative museums in Chile; it is also the most prone to government intervention. The important changes undertaken since the museum's creation demonstrate both the agency of civil society (i.e., different social sectors' involvement in and impact on the museum) and the state's willingness to open up debates on national identity. However, the over-arching narrative provided by this cultural institution indicates the continuing dominance of discourses of mestizaje (racial and cultural mixture), which ultimately serve to eliminate the Mapuche from Chilean nationhood.

Keywords: Mapuche; history; memory; multiculturalism; nation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Bristol, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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