Being Mapuche in Modern Chile: Illness Experiences, Medical Choices and Social Positions

  • Dorthe Brogård Kristensen


In this chapter it is argued that medicine is increasingly effective according to the degree it resolves a “referential dissonance” between a personal life story and socio-political reality. The chapter analyses the illness stories of two Mapuche men who have migrated to the city. These stories include complex notions of illness, as well as a number of disease categories and aetiological explanations. Hence the illness stories of these men appear to be complex, confusing and fragmentary; this is, I suggest, because they reproduce a gap in the languages that inform their lives, a gap reflected in their use of disease categories and treatments that present a certain cultural confusion and fragmentation. Indigenous medical treatment both embodied and mediated opposing social forces and languages. By so doing, it created a referential resonance (Han, Life in Debt. Times of Care and Violence in Neoliberal Chile. London: University of California Press, 2012) between personal experience, selfhood, current social environment and medical practitioner.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dorthe Brogård Kristensen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern DenmarkOdense MDenmark

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