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The 'Civilized' and the 'Barbarians': Imperial Narratives and Global Exploitation in the Imaginaries of Patagonia

Date: 2 June 2010 Time: 2.00 pm

Venue: Bowland North SR12

Latin America Research Cluster

"Imaginaries of Globalisation and Alterglobalisation in Latin America"

Cristian Aliaga

The 'Civilized' and the 'Barbarians': Imperial Narratives and Global Exploitation in the Imaginaries of Patagonia

Wednesday 2nd June, 2pm, Bowland North SR 12

Contrasting mythologies of Patagonia, the Southern-most region of South America, persists even today, when a globalised culture continues devouring native landscapes. This talk explores some of the connections between 19th century narratives of exploration and discovery, and the narratives that underpin the ravages of 21st century capitalism.

The geography of Patagonia and its peoples has been 'recreated' through Eurocentric narratives of exploration that obscured or silenced indigenous peoples'own histories. Such is the case of the Mapuche-Tehuelche people, whose history was written down by their European conquers.

19th century narratives of exploration are inextricably linked with exploitation of the forest frontier. British explorer George C. Musters' book about Patagonia and its peoples captured the interest of a powerful British company, which was subsequently given the license to exploit the resources of the desert area in the North of Patagonia. The Argentine government assisted the British enterprise with military power. As a result the natives were killed, taken prisoner or displaced. In the 20th century, transnational companies such as Benetton, BP and Repsol continue profiting from the Patagonian landscape. Not surprisingly their actions are justified and underpinned by ethnocentric narratives that share commonalities with 19th century's paternalistic discourses. Thus, there has been no victory of 'civilization' over 'barbarism': instead, 'civilization' has produced 'barbarism' and today, the two exist side by side.

Cristian Aliaga is a poet, a journalist, an academic and cultural organizer. Although born in the province of Buenos Aires, he has made Patagonia his home. Cristian has published poetry collections of his own, and anthologies of poetry and prose written by Patagonian authors as well. He has released a CD of performed poetry. Currently he is the director of the Arts Centre and Publishing House Espacio Hudson and is editor of the journal El Extremo Sur. The lecture will be in Spanish with translation into English, and will be followed by a bilingual poetry reading.


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Institute for Advanced Studies, Latin America Research Cluster


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
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