Presented by Dana Brablecova.

Traditionally, each rural Mapuche community is led by a lonko (head), a man who represents wisdom and leadership. In the city, far from the territory of origin, the Mapuche have reclaimed and exercised their identity carried out, principally, through the work of female organisational ‘presidentas’. Since the recovery of democracy in Chile in the early 1990s, the Mapuche in Santiago have created and joined an increasing number of voluntary organisations based upon their shared self-identification as Mapuche people. Presidentas have been key in materialising the collective Mapuche cultural activity in the city while actively challenging prospects that restricted urban Indigenous women to a domestic realm, either as domestic workers (nanas) or mothers. Based on ongoing work in collaboration with urban Mapuche organisations, this presentation explores the leadership trajectories of presidentas, while discussing some of the challenges posed by the Mapuche diaspora itself that ultimately condition the impact of their leadership role.

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