Visions and divisions in Pehuenche life
Bonelli, Cristobal Rodrigo
Iglesias, Cristóbal Bonelli
This work is based upon fieldwork carried out among indigenous Pehuenche people living in the Andes in Southern Chile. It is an ethnographic investigation of the relations between Pehuenche vision and healing practices in different local settings. The first part of this thesis focuses on Pehuenche vision from a cosmo-political angle. In order to set the scene for my overall argument, I explore the constitutive relation between mutual vision among real people (Ch. che) and the emergence of the Pehuenche person, which I call the ‘dynamic personal composition.’ With mutual vision between people being a precondition for the emergence of social relations, I examine the experience of particular witchcraft actions in which mutual vision is not possible. This leads to the conceptualization of ‘unilateral vision’ as a key phenomenon associated with the emergence of illnesses and the alteration of the shared plane of Pehuenche visibility. I also explore how mutual vision can be restored only through the assemblage of particular visual capacities known in the vernacular as ‘the gift of vision.’ In the second part of the thesis, I analyze the ways in which public health services respond to particular illnesses not detectable or treatable by medical technicians. In particular, I focus on the implications of ‘the visualization of traditional healers,’ inherent in the State’s approach to intercultural health. Through the examination of both particular intercultural health projects, as well as local expressions of discontent and animosity towards the State, this thesis seeks to create awareness about the ontological relevance of mutual vision in relations among real people. By pointing out the equivocal understandings of the visible and the invisible domains within intercultural relations, the analysis as a whole seeks to explain why Pehuenche vision must be understood through ontological examination rather than through a multicultural approach.