Public opinion polls show a progressive increase in the rejection of the project for a new Chilean Constitution. According to analysts, what favours rejection is the gap between what the constituents have drafted and what Chileans want. According to the polls, those in favour of rejection express their disagreement with Article 1, which states that “Chile is a social and democratic state based on the rule of law. It is plurinational, intercultural and ecological”. This is a wake-up call ahead of the consultation to be held on 4 September.

The rejection gap expresses the distrust of the conservative sectors and the fear of the reformist sectors of losing the opportunity to draft a modified version of conventionality. For their part, those in favour of a profound transformation start from two basic premises: responding to citizens’ demands for social rights and that of redefining the identity of the Chilean nation. In this way, they are committed to the incorporation of sectors marginalised from politics, such as social movements and indigenous peoples, as well as aspiring to place Chile at the international forefront of social rights.

The rejection gap shows a negative image and disenchantment with the constituent process. They emphasise that the new Constitution contributes to the separation and fragmentation of the Chilean nation. From their perspective, plurinationality, with a conglomerate of 12 nations (11 indigenous nations and the Chilean nation) grouped into one state, generates uncertainty in social, economic and political terms. This is due to the fact that in the long run the state would be giving the indigenous peoples the possibility of expropriating all the lands and properties that once belonged to these nations.

Despite this objection, sceptical about the possibility of changing history, it is necessary to consider that we can filter through ourselves a version of the world we are and are in. That is, to design a world in the image and likeness of ourselves. Only in this way will we learn to relate to each other. Depending on how long the consciousness takes, we will learn to negotiate on the basis of what we are able to offer the “other”. All this, as we are able to incorporate the tool of living in mutual respect into our daily lives.

A mind map is a diagram that represents related concepts based on a theme or key words. The mind map of the colonial subject sees diversity as an enemy. In the mental map of the colonial subject there were not, are not and will not be themes or key words such as plurinationality, interculturality or ecology. In this way the gap of mistrust and fear focuses the debate on the degrees of autonomy of everyday life and power.

For many years, the mental map of colonisation served as a reference point for research and teaching of Chilean history. From there, the inference that a plurinational state contributes to creating the conditions for indigenous peoples to seize land and property. While it is true that as long as deficit needs cannot be met, the need to be will be a driving and continuing force.

Other ways of thinking and life experiences

Decolonial, or decolonial, thinking has for some decades now found a solution to this clash of perspectives. As a mediating pretension in the sphere of the history of ideas and thought, it is a proposal for an ideological and autonomous instance of common life.

The term “decolonisation” is used in a historical and epistemic sense (study of the sources of knowledge). When the historical sense of the term intersects with the epistemic one, then one begins to speak of decolonisation or decoloniality.

The historical sense of the term decolonisation relates to the wars of independence against Spain and Portugal in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which marked the disengagement of the colonies from the colonial empire. However, indigenous peoples have been able to observe that, despite the end of colonial legal-political administrative management, coloniality survives in the Americas. This is epistemological colonisation in the subjective structures and imaginaries.

The concept of decolonisation, in its epistemic sense, emerged around 1980 in Colombia and Morocco. In the first case, when the sociologist Orlando Fals Borda proposed decolonising (deconstructing) the social sciences. In Africa, in the same period, the Moroccan philosopher Abdelkebir Khatibi formulated the epistemic-political decolonisation of philosophy. Khatibi goes beyond Fals Borda’s statement of deconstruction. His proposal is to disengage from Eurocentric philosophy and the legacies of categories and concepts from Greek and Latin, and the six modern/colonial European languages.

It is worth noting that in Tahuantinsuyo, the chronicler Waman Puma de Ayala, (puma eagle in Quechua) precedes him by 400 years. Puma de Ayala’s work, Nueva Cronica y Buen Gobierno (1615), accompanied by some 400 engravings, is characterised by its mixture of Quechua and Spanish. In the first part, this New Chronicle narrates the history of Tahuantinsuyo before the arrival of the Spaniards, and in the second part, with the ironic title of “Good Government”, it recounts the conquest and the atrocities committed by the Spaniards.

In the indigenous case, the chronicler Puma de Ayala and Khatibi are a reference point for decolonial thinking. They agree on the questioning of a Eurocentric model of knowledge, as well as on the existence of a frontier way of thinking. They establish the relationship between how people think, how they teach and how they define the epistemological and methodological frontiers of knowledge.

Decolonisation is a complex and analytically useful concept. It serves to demystify the Eurocentric reading of the sources of knowledge. Hence, indigenous decolonial projects do not seek a “post” moment of coloniality. Indigenous decolonisation is positioning, it is an attitude to thinking, living and doing, with an emphasis on making visible the sites and spaces of alternative constructions.

In this context, the demand for the “indigenisation” of education, economics, philosophy, politics and society in general emerges. The aim is to change the terms of the conversation. This is based on the fact that decolonial thinking is grounded in other ways of thinking and other life experiences. It is a guide to understand, for example, that the life experience and ways of thinking of a right-wing convention member and his social group, Harry Jürgensen (who has publicly expressed his rejection of Article 1 of the new Constitution), is not the same as that of the convention member representing the Mapuche people, Adolfo Millabur Ñancuil.

In this sense, the discussion implies the need to resolve practical questions that lead us into the territories of definitions and the analysis of concepts. Is modernity a local phenomenon or a global experience?

According to Anglo-Saxon postcolonial studies, modernity is a local phenomenon that took place in European cities at the end of the Middle Ages with the emergence of the illustration and later with the French Revolution.

Decolonial studies, for their part, assume that modernity is a global phenomenon, which began with the invasion of America in 1492. It is inaugurated with the colonial juridical-political administrative imposition in Abya Yala. With the occupation of America, Europe is installed as the centre of World History and the whole planet becomes the site of one history, one economy, one philosophy, etc.

In this way, Europe emerges as a world-system; a model of rationality to be imitated and a horizon for the subjugated in the transition of their historical and economic development. According to this version, there was no world history until 1492. Until that date, empires, nations and spiritual, religious and cultural systems coexisted with each other.

This point is important for two reasons. On the one hand, because Europe is the “centre” of history, thanks to the appropriation of the riches of America and the exercise of violence (genocide, slavery, racism) on the conquered populations. Since then, the path leading to the entry into modernity has entailed the legitimate right to exercise violence against the “other” because of its savage and uncivilised condition, or to subjugate the elements of nature.

From this perspective, decolonisation implies de-historicising academic texts and historicising memory. For example, the notion of race, not as a concept, but as a collective experience. The invasion of the Wallmapu in 1883, to study it as a generational historical trauma of humiliation, exploitation, usurpation, racism and patriarchal oppression. This collective experience allows us to understand the logic of imposition through physical, psychological and sexual violence of modernity in Indo-America. To recognise the aftermath of the intentional use of violence is to learn to overcome the collective trauma, from the empathy of feeling and thinking as a whole.

The indigenous decolonial project is an endeavour imbued with political implications. It is a project that links life experience with thinking differently in order to change the terms (terminology and form), the content and the conditions of conversation.

To converse within the framework of “a social and democratic state based on the rule of law” that defines itself as “plurinational, intercultural and ecological” is to contribute to the liberating transformation of everyday life. Therefore, changing the terms, content and conditions of this conversation is a necessary prerequisite for changing the structures of power in a state that aims to promote the common good.

*D. in Sociology and a degree in History. Coordinator of the Mapuche Documentation Centre Ñuke Mapu.