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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Normative worlds clashing : state planning, indigenous self-determination, and the possibilities of legal pluralism in Chile Ugarte Urzua, Magdalena


Much of the history of Indigenous-state relations in Chile has been shaped by western understandings of law, and by Indigenous engagement with and opposition to such understandings. Spanish colonial law was used to justify settler presence, land dispossession, and violence. Independence was supported by the imposition of Chile’s newly created legal system upon pre-existing Indigenous nations, legitimating territorial annexation and nation building from the state’s standpoint. Today, the state interacts with Indigenous peoples through the lens of Indigenous rights and recognition following recent developments in international law. This dissertation investigates how planning has intertwined with western law to facilitate institutionalized Indigenous dispossession over time and how that relationship unfolds today, using the implementation of the duty to consult as an entry point. First, I trace the evolution of state planning since early colonial times, suggesting that contemporary planning practice is inseparable from this colonial genealogy. Then, adopting an institutional ethnographic approach, I examine the creation of a controversial national consultation regulation through the voices of government and Indigenous representatives involved in the process, as well as Indigenous peoples who refused to participate. The analysis suggests that marginal improvements in state planning are taking place, especially regarding methodological innovations in participatory planning. However, at a more substantial level, consultation policy serves to proceduralize and restrict the scope of Indigenous rights and the exercise of self-determination under the veils of reasonableness and compatibility with Chilean legal frameworks. The failure to reach a mutually agreed regulation and Indigenous refusal to engage in the process suggest that what is really at play in Chile’s planning contact zone is not a clash between different ways of planning, but a clash of normative systems. In other words, tensions arising from multiple contrasting interpretations and narratives about what is considered acceptable or unacceptable, allowed or forbidden, legitimate or invalid regarding Indigenous and non-Indigenous coexistence in shared space. I conclude by discussing how understanding planning contact zones in terms of conflicting legal orders in action opens the door to planning practices that are grounded in legal pluralism rather than in domination by imposition of Chilean law.

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