Accepted Paper:

Ecotourism: multiculturistic ontologies of nature  


Saskia Walther (LMU M√ľnchen )

Paper short abstract:

The presentation shows social-cultural processes which go along with changing practices and concepts of nature under a gender sensitive perspective, using the example of a community ecotourism project in Mexico. The presentation is based on a one year field research in 2013/2014.

Paper long abstract:

Romanticized representations of indigenous communities as "ecological natives" focus on their intensive collaboration and intimate relation with nature. In the terms of "othering" these representations oppose the western dualism between nature and culture and are increasingly used by indigenous actors to advance their economies and to recreate their identity in a globalizing world. This is evident in many community-based ecotourism projects in Mexico, which are framed by global discourses on environmental degradation and environmental protection alike. Ecotourism reconstitutes the relationship between local communities with "nature" as ecological practices and discourses are creatively appropriated by indigenous actors, who use them to conserve their natural resources. This also involves a revitalization of local environmental practices and knowledge. These processes revise the ways in which the community land is remembered, narrated and conceived and cause contradictory concepts of nature cosmologies. This results on the one hand in novel, often conflicting collaboration practices with "nature" and a new configuration of the community management of the community territory. On the other hand, this includes new emotional and sensory experiences and simultaneously reconfigures the social institutions and structure. The presentation aims to show the social-cultural processes under a gender sensitive perspective which go along with the changing practices and concepts of nature, using the example of the community ecotourism project in the village of Santa Catarina Lachatao in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca. The presentation is based on a one year field research in 2013/2014 in which was conducted a participatory fotoproject.

Panel P091
Living together in changing environments: towards an anthropology of multiple natures in Europe and beyond