Patagonia, Land of Nomads: A Glance at a Territory Shaped by Displacement
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By the end of the nineteenth century, as global voyages became popular, and transcontinental empires settled, remote corners of the third world such as Patagonia began to be explored and became the subject of European travel literatures. The opening of this region to the global scenario produced profound transformations in its territorial conformation, poetic imaginary, and local culture. As Patagonia became a land of travellers, local nomads which had inhabited this land for centuries became extinguished. The historical context of this re-shaping is conceptualised in literary theory through notions such as nomadism, elaborated by Gilles Deleuze and its aesthetical counterpart, geo-poetics, by Kenneth White. The travel literature about Patagonia, such as that produced by Charles Darwin, Lady Florence Dixie, and Bruce Chatwin, depicts the difficulties these travellers faced in trying to endow their writings of adequate descriptions and images. Instead, they recurred to images from their homeland, and thus created an imaginary of Patagonia through displacement: their own, and that of images brought by themselves to this land. When Chilean poets like Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda begun to write about Patagonia, they found it already populated by strange images, shaped indeed, by nomads, travellers and dis-located identities.