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Unwriting "Easter Island": Listening to Rapa Nui

Unwriting "Easter Island": Listening to Rapa Nui
Forrest Wade Young


Department of Anthropology, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.


This dissertation analyzes the role of the Chilean land tenure system in ongoing conflict, and proposed conflict resolutions, between Rapa Nui and the Chilean state in "Easter Island.". The land tenure system is analyzed in terms of ethnographic data I collected on the island from August 2007 through December 2008, and documents of official Chilean legal history in Rapa Nui. Critical discourse analysis reveals that the Chilean land tenure system is only one aspect of a broader conflict between Rapa Nui and Chile in "Easter Island." The Chilean land tenure system is part of a complex transnational dispositif and governmentality that constructs and reproduces a limited colonial subject position for Rapa Nui people. Rapa Nui contest the subject position in terms of the discursive practice of an interpretative repertoire incommensurable with Chilean state and transnational discourse marginalizing the place of Rapa Nui in "Easter Island." While Chile attempts to legalize its cartography of "Easter Island" by enforcing its land tenure system and thereby reproducing the colonial subjectivity of Rapa Nui, Rapa Nui actively destabilize the coherence of Chilean state discourse by culturally remembering their ancestors, imagining a decolonial future for their progeny, and simply being Rapa Nui. Utilizing research from a broad range of disciplines in addition to anthropology--indigenous studies, Pacific Islands studies, philosophy, political science, and sociolinguistics, the dissertation aims to develop a discursive ground by which the moral coherence of Rapa Nui resistance can be respectfully heard. The epilogue assesses the recent and ongoing re-occupations of lands, buildings, and hotels by Rapa Nui people and Chile's violent response.