Marginalised indigenous youth, a story that resonates
An EU-funded research project is using state-of-the-art visual data and co-mapping exercises to better understand the impact of social exclusion and displacement among marginalised indigenous youth in Santiago, Chile. A better understanding of their lives could feed into programmes to better meet their needs and expectations.
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Researchers in the MAPS-URBE project are exploring the impact of displacement and social exclusion on indigenous youth living in the Chilean capital. Studying and mapping the artistic and cultural reality of Mapuche youth now living in urban settings helps to tell their story blending Western and ancestral experiences.
In what ways do young city-dwelling Mapuche differ from their relatives in southern Chile? How do they keep in touch with their ancestral ways? What dreams and hopes do they have for the future? Do they feel misunderstood or marginalised from mainstream society?
All these questions are being investigated through surveys, cases and other forms of joint participation like co-mapping and workshops, culminating in a multimedia exhibition presented in Chile and Europe, a book and other vital awareness-raising efforts.
“By taking into consideration how young indigenous people see their future, both as a collective and individually, our research is providing a much-needed ethnographically grounded understanding of dynamics shaping society in the next 15 years,” says Olivia Casagrande, a fellow at the University of Manchester who is carrying out field work, research and training in Santiago as part of MAPS-URBE.
Over half of Mapuche young people now live in urban areas, and this is expected to grow when new data is released in 2017. The whole region will have the largest number of young people in its history by 2020, and they will be the next generation to shape society.
The state-of-the-art visual data and participatory mapping methodologies being employed in the project are reflected in the title of the project, according to Casagrande. Working alongside young Mapuche offers a better understanding of indigenous experiences of city life as a kind of “in betweeness”, she says. This is captured in the project title which originates from mapu (earth) and urbe (city), and in turn “symbolises the ongoing negotiation of marginality and displacement from the ancestral territory”.
The project combines theoretical knowledge, collaborative methods and modern data visualisation to present issues of critical social interest in ways that are directly applicable to other contexts across Latin America and Europe, which is dealing with marginalised immigrant youths and its own cultural and socio-economic challenges in major cities.
Early days, but a clear path
The three-year project is currently carrying out fieldwork, which according to the team would not have been possible without funding from the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions programme.
“It has been critical in taking the innovative and original ideas forward, providing the opportunity and means to interact with other disciplines,” says Casagrande. “I’m sure the research will broaden my expertise within the anthropological field, and provide a solid basis for professional advancement.”
Casagrande graduated in cultural anthropology, ethnology and ethno-linguistics, and obtained her PhD from the University of Verona before starting the global fellowship at the University of Manchester at the start of 2017.