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Title page for ETD etd-05202012-092727

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Sauer, Jacob James
Author's Email Address jacob.sauer@gmail.com
URN etd-05202012-092727
Title Long-Term Resilience in Cultural Systems: An Araucanian Example from Santa Sylvia, South-Central Chile
Degree PhD
Department Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Tom D. Dillehay Committee Chair
Daniel H. Usner, Jr. Committee Member
John W. Janusek Committee Member
Tiffiny A. Tung Committee Member
  • Ethnohistory
  • Resilience
  • Archaeology
  • Chile
  • Araucanian
  • Ethnography
Date of Defense 2012-01-20
Availability unrestricted
As one of the few indigenous groups in the Americas to actively resist European colonialism and the only group to successfully maintain cultural and political autonomy for over 350 years while expanding cultural influence, the Araucanians of south-central Chile are in the unique position to provide important information and perspectives on colonialism, culture contact, identity formation, ethnogenesis and other topics through ethnohistoric, ethnographic, and archaeological investigation. This research examines the Araucanian cultural system resilience at Santa Sylvia, an archaeological site that contains elements pre-Hispanic, Hispanic, and post-Hispanic occupations, through the interpretive framework of Resilience Theory. This theory posits that a system is resilient if it can “absorb outside disturbance so as to retain…the same function” (Walker et al. 2004:1). It is argued here that the political, economic, social, and ideological structures of the Araucanian culture system were such that, through the actions of the Araucanians themselves, the system could incorporate useful items, such as the horse, from the Spanish while avoiding the hybridization and syncretism that affected many other indigenous groups. This resiliency is seen in archaeological excavation at Santa Sylvia, ethnographic investigation in the surrounding area of Pucón-Villarrica, and ethnohistoric research on Araucanian/Spanish interaction beginning around AD 1541. Through developmental phases (known as the Resilience Cycle), the Araucanians adapted facets of their culture while maintaining traditional structures and practices until the late 19th Century. Further, it is argued that Resilience Theory has the potential to provide a useful framework for investigating how cultures persist through time and in the face of outside disturbances. In this way, this research can inform anthropologists, historians, sociologists, geographers, and other researchers examining issues of agency, identity, colonialism, culture contact, and development.
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