Enduring frontiers undo the settler: Mattias Borg Rasmussen, ‘Institutionalizing precarity: Settler identities, national parks and the containment of political spaces in Patagonia’, Geoforum, 2019


Abstract: Enduring frontier spaces are key sites if one seeks to trace the subtle workings of power through the effects of the shifting rationalities of territorial governance. This article focuses on a particular group of people, the descendants of the first settler families to enter an area that would later become one of Argentina’s flagship national parks. The figure of the settler occupied a shifting position within the racialized geographies of the protected areas of northwestern Patagonia, a remarkable descent from pioneers consolidating state-space to second-class citizens and tolerated squatters brought low by the institutionalization of precarity. The article asks what it means to be a descendant of settlers during the current period of multicultural recognition and the emergence of territorial claims based on indigenous identities in Argentina. It argues, that while the settlers within the protected area, the pobladores, hold a firm place in the territorial genealogy of Patagonia, they remain in these territories as relics of the past and are thus denied a meaningful existence within the Argentine settler state of the present. Contemporary maps of racialized power in the settler territories condition the politics of subject formation but are also met with resistance as settlers claim rights to full citizenship and recognition of their role as frontier pioneers and state space consolidators.

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