Why Mapuche Sing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article attempts to draw out some of the connections between the attraction of personal songs (ül) and ideas about personhood among rural Mapuche people in southern Chile. Approaching these songs from both sociological and semiotic perspectives, I argue that they are constituted as imprints of the singular subjectivities of their initial composers. A focus on three specific features of ül– their use of first-person pronouns, their entextualization, and their musicality – reveals how they allow the subjectivities encapsulated within them to become ‘inhabited’ by others. I conclude by suggesting that this process of inhabiting distinct subjectivities through song resonates with and responds to a problem of epistemological solipsism grounded in Mapuche ideas about the singularity of human nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-313
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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