Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power, and Healing among Chilean Mapuche – Ana Mariella Bacigalupo

Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power, and Healing among Chilean Mapuche -  Ana Mariella BacigalupoDrawing on anthropologist Ana Mariella Bacigalupo’s fifteen years of field research, Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power, and Healing among Chilean Mapuche is the first study to follow shamans’ gender identities and performance in a variety of ritual, social, sexual, and political contexts. To Mapuche shamans, or machi, the foye tree is of special importance, not only for its medicinal qualities but also because of its hermaphroditic flowers, which reflect the gender-shifting components of machi healing practices. Framed by the cultural constructions of gender and identity, Bacigalupo’s fascinating findings span the ways in which the Chilean state stigmatizes the machi as witches and sexual deviants; how shamans use paradoxical discourses about gender to legitimatize themselves as healers and, at the same time, as modern men and women; the tree’s political use as a symbol of resistance to national ideologies; and other components of these rich traditions. The first comprehensive study on Mapuche shamans’ gendered practices, Shamans of the Foye Tree offers new perspectives on this crucial intersection of spiritual, social, and political power.