Mallon, Florencia E. Courage tastes of blood: the Mapuche community of Nicolás Ailío and the Chilean state, 1906-2001. Duke University, 2005. 319p bibl index afp ISBN 0-8223-3585-9, $79.95; ISBN 0-8223-3574-3 pbk, $22.95 . Reviewed in 2006sep CHOICE.
This ethnography of the Mapuche community of Nicolás Ailío on the southern Chilean coast seeks to present a case study of indigenous activism in 20th-century Latin America. At the beginning of the century, the Mapuche lost their territory to large landowners. Agrarian activism in the 1960s and 1970s led to gains that the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-90) subsequently reversed. After the return to civilian rule in the 1990s, the Mapuche struggled to reconstruct their communities. The legacy of repression, however, resulted in divisions and recriminations. Rather than creating a heroic struggle for social justice, Mallon (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison) presents this as a complex history with multiple perspectives and versions of events. Often the story is depicted as a clash between class-based forms of agrarian activism and an embrace of ethnic identities, although examining how class and ethnicity mutually reinforce and build on each other may be a more rewarding avenue of investigation. Mallon places herself at the center of the story, overtly acknowledging her own role in collecting and interpreting oral histories and archival documents. The dialogical method of writing a collective ethnography is an innovative methodology. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. -- M. Becker, Truman State University