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Exoticisation UndressedEthnographic Nostalgia and Authenticity in Emberá Clothes$
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Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781526100832

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526100832.001.0001

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Ghosts of Emberá past

Ghosts of Emberá past

(p.68) 4 Ghosts of Emberá past
Exoticisation Undressed

Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Manchester University Press

The chapter examines the accounts of two early twentieth century authors, Verrill (1921) and Marsh (1934), who provided us with detailed—idealising but also stereotyping—descriptions of Emberá clothes (and from their point of view, Emberá nudity) in the 1920s. The accounts of Verrill and Marsh are two nostalgic anchors that haunt this ethnography. The chapter analyses the romanticised but infantilising narratives of these two Western traveller-explorers, their exoticisation of the Emberá, and their desire for exclusive contact with Otherness. Their ambivalence about indigeneity and Western modernity fluctuates from admiration of indigenous spontaneity to imperialist nostalgia and sentimental pessimism, a combination of exoticised contradictions that is not so vastly different from that of contemporary tourists.

Keywords:   exoticisation, nudity, exclusive contact with Otherness, Western traveller-explorers, Marsh, Verrill

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