“The southward archipelagic extension of [forest Chile] from Chiloé island to Cape Horn is an almost uninhabited wilderness of channels, islands, rocks, glaciers, and ice sheets. The forest deteriorates in quality and the resources of both the islands and the Andean mainland area appear to be minimal.” You could forgive Gilbert J. Butland for his limp assessment of Southern Chile in his 1951 text, Chile—An Outline of its Geography, Economics, and Politics. As the end of the terrestrial world Patagonia always seems to get the shaft in histories that are told north to south. But in the great twentieth-century tradition of changing South America’s orientation, Boris Ivelic presents another view of the continent.
Ivelic superimposes Patagonia in the north Atlantic Ocean addressing the question that Europeans typically pose when they arrive in this corner of South America: where I am exactly? You could forgive our northern cousins for their egocentricity since there’s a visually provocative answer. Beyond a cool anecdote, Ivelic wishes to dispel the prejudices surrounding Patagonia, specifically that it is a hostile environment. As Monocle reminds us people lead perfectly productive and happy lives in northern Europe and even in places that are beyond the latitude of Patagonia. For hours everyday I read, write, and think about the School of Valparaíso’s philosophy of Amereida. It shapes their pedagogy and, most importantly for me, inspires their research trips throughout the continent, especially in Patagonia. Nearly 60 years after the manifesto emerged and Butland published his perception of the region, Patagonia remains at the forefront of the School’s concerns.
“We tend to settle in the most favorable conditions. Patagonia was signaled like a sterile and inhospitable land and the theory of Butland divided it into habitable and inhabitable. Amereida tells us that the condition of man is poetic and for her we inescapably live in vigilance and the courage to make a world.” (Amereida, Travesías 1984 a 1988)