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Strangers On Familiar SoilRediscovering the Chile-California Connection$
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Edward Dallam Melillo

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300206623

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300206623.001.0001

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Breaking the Rule of Exceptions

Breaking the Rule of Exceptions

(p.182) 9 Breaking the Rule of Exceptions
Strangers On Familiar Soil

Edward Dallam Melillo

Yale University Press

This chapter considers assertions of exceptionalism by residents and rulers of California and Chile. From the eighteenth century onward, dominant groups in Chile and California forged their exceptionalist arguments from an amalgam of environmental, racial, and geopolitical elements. European-descended settlers in both places asserted that Providence endorsed their colonization of the Mediterranean-type landscapes along the eastern Pacific Rim. In such narratives, indigenous and dark- skinned populations had squandered the agricultural and economic potential of these fertile zones. Only after being “whitened” and “modernized” could either region realize its promise as a dominant force in the Pacific World. Chilean and Californian discourses of exceptionalism shared numerous features. Both mingled unstable racial taxonomies with geographical determinism, and both merged cultural mythology with political propaganda. More important, at key junctures, Chileans and Californians repeatedly contributed to each other's claims of incomparability.

Keywords:   California, Chile, exceptionalism, colonization, Pacific World

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