This article explores the relationship between land, words and silence, and the ways they are articulated in biographical trajectories. In the context of displacement and successive home-making, it follows the spatial and temporal trajectories of a Mapuche family, their non-linear routes through the experience of exile, and the process of dwelling in the elsewhere. Exile is addressed here as a condition of being, a tension between presence and absence that involves loss, and that is negotiated through the interplay between words and silence, leading to the meaningful emergence of what I call ‘unexpected places’. At the core of this argument is a recognition of the intersubjective and hermeneutic borders that exist between persons in relation to speech and silence, in this case my partial understanding of the word ‘land’ (mapu), which disclosed the limits of language and the specificity of one’s lifeworld, and thus the boundaries of anthropological knowledge.
- biographical trajectories