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Duke University

Publication Date

Fall 2007

Program Name

Chile: Culture, Development, and Social Justice

Abstract

The mapuche people have lived a history of struggle. Today it seems they are faced with the impossible choice of being poor and without the resources to maintain their culture, or succumbing to the pressures of a world imbued with globalization and equally changing what is fundamentally theirs. As a unique solution to this problem, many mapuche individuals and communities have opted to develop “turismo mapuche”, or ethnic tourism programs—part of a recent trend toward a more responsible form of tourism. These programs strive to provide tourists with the opportunity to experience cultures different from their own. The primary aim of this study was to determine if these programs provide the mapuche with a viable way to maintain and strengthen their culture. In order to investigate this I lived in two different communities where ethic tourism has become an integral part of life. I incorporated myself into these communities through observing, interviewing, and actively participating in the daily activities and elements of the tourism programs. I also conducted interviews at governmental organizations and tourism agencies that play a role in supporting the mapuche in their efforts. The results of my investigation include a detailed description of each of the two ethic tourism initiatives and an analysis of their internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats. In both cases I saw that ethic tourism does indeed provide the mapuche with both a greater economic income and the possibility to strengthen their culture. The mapuche people have a deep respect for nature and the environment, and this importance is manifested in the programs as well. Finally, the benefits of these programs extend to the tourists themselves, often having a deep impact on their outlook on life and their view of the mapuche people.

Disciplines

Growth and Development | Latin American Studies

 

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