Nostalgia, the Fleeting, and the Rare in Chilean Relationships to Nature and Nonhuman Species

in Society & Animals
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Semi-structured interviews and participant observation were used to understand how urban Chileans form relationships with nature and nonhuman species in central Chile. Most informants expressed dislike of the typical mediterranean-habitat landscape, characterizing it as dry, poor, and empty. Yet many people expressed nostalgic attachment to specific places, species, and activities that they had experienced, often as children. Most of the reminisced-about interactions were fleeting or had been lost over time. In the dominant discourse, nature in the mediterranean zone of Chile is closely associated with poverty, and it is considered to lack beauty, biodiversity, culture, and history. Appeals to personal nostalgia may break through this discourse to form private assemblages of value. Chileans also attributed social value to interactions with species who are rare or who are found “exclusively” in Chile. Appeals to nostalgia, rarity, and exclusivity help to draw these private discourses into the public realm.

Nostalgia, the Fleeting, and the Rare in Chilean Relationships to Nature and Nonhuman Species

in Society & Animals



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  • View in gallery
    Traditional embroidery, Rocío Luco Mujica, 1980 (approximately 1 m × 1 m), depicting the family parcela. It is property of a participant in this study.
  • View in gallery
    Images of animals in the Exposición Juguete Nacional at the Cultural Centre Palacio La Moneda, Santiago, Chile, May 7 to July 2011. Toys are part of the collection of Juan Antonio Santis and were produced in Chile between 1915 and 1975. Top left: copper beach buckets, depicting (left to right) a lion; a pig in shorts; a bear in clothing with trees; two ducks, a monkey, a mushroom, and two trees. Lower left: a farmyard duck and a teddy bear. Right: a paper doll in the form of a squirrel. None of these animals is native to Chile.

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