The Body Is (Not) the Land: Mapuche Hunger Strikes and the Territorial Aporia

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This article concerns the ongoing hunger and death strikes of the Mapuche, Indigenous peoples whose territories, or Wallmapu, are currently settler-occupied territories of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina. It argues that these hunger strikes are acts of territorial precedent and corporeal autonomy that stand in opposition to the continuum of Chilean racism and its myriad devastating sociocultural and ecological effects. These hunger strikes wrest the ordering of life, and the processes and temporality of dying, from the state. In this way, the hunger strikes directly intervene in state claims to biopolitical and territorial sovereignty imposed via the settler metonymy that conflates the Mapuche body and land in order to dispossess them of a “proper” relation with land. In arguing that the Mapuche hunger strike is also an embodied and discursive precedent for territorial repossession within Mapuche kimün (knowledge), this article complicates assertions of the body as land and questions the very foundations of Chile’s recursive claims to territorial sovereignty and the possibility of Mapuche territorial reclamation juridically. The Mapuche hunger strike thus should not be solely, or primarily, framed as resistance to an ongoing colonialism but rather as ongoing acts of corporeal autonomy and the establishment of body-land relationality as territorial precedence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)550-602
Number of pages53
JournalCritical Times
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Indigenous
  • Mapuche
  • ecologies
  • hunger strike
  • territory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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