Reflections on an anthropological study of Kuna Tourism

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A review of Indigenous tourism in Latin America: Reflections on an anthropological study of Guna Tourism (Panama)

Author: Prof. Dr. Xerardo Pereiro (antropólogo sociocultural)

University: Departamento de Economia, Sociologia e Gestão (DESG) Escola de Ciências Humanas e Sociais (ECHS) Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD), Portugal

Using ethnographic examples from long-term anthropological fieldwork with members of the Guna communities of Panama, undertaken between 2003 and 2013, this paper critically evaluates the effects of tourism on Indigenous communities in Latin America from a new theoretical perspective. It focuses on how some Latin American Indigenous groups are developing a new responsible way of producing tourism, exemplified by the Guna case. The Guna sustainable tourism model is an illuminating example of good practices in Indigenous tourism. Tourism is now not viewed as a threat for Indigenous groups but as an opportunity for the empowerment and development of communities, thanks to the establishment of a new link between the local and global in tourism arenas. The author’s research findings reveal that the success of this sustainable and responsible Indigenous tourism model is supported by: a) the local control of resource access; b) Indigenous resistance to external socio-cultural control and the resultant refusal to accept predatory tourism models; and c) the resilience, adaptation and cultural capital of Indigenous groups. The paper provides suggestions for a more appropriate Indigenous tourism development and for a responsible “cultural fine-tuning” of their identities in the global context in which tourism is now managed.

Pereiro, X. (2016): “A review of Indigenous tourism in Latin America: Reflections on an anthropological study of Guna Tourism (Panama)”, em Journal of Sustainable Tourism (JOST), volume 24, nº 8-9, pp. 1121-1138. ISSN 0966-9582 (Impresso), 1747-7646 (Online). DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2016.1189924 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2016.118992

 

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