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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 present

Ghosts of Emberá present

(p.91) 5 Ghosts of Emberá present
Exoticisation Undressed

Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Manchester University Press

The chapter focuses on the tourism encounter at Parara Puru—an Emberá community at Chagres, Panama—the exotic images that publicise it, and the contradictory expectations of the tourists. Naturalised images of the Emberá in tourism advertisements—dressed in exotic garb, with their bodies largely uncovered—provide the promise of experiencing wild, tropical South America. Tourist expectations are rooted in such naturalised imagery and reproduce, on their part, contradictory remarks that communicate an ambivalence about the degree to which indigeneity should remain ‘uncorrupted’ by Western values and commodities. This type of exoticisation, to which I refer as ‘unintentional primitivisation’, relates to the expectation that indigenous people may benefit from some Western civilisational provisions—such as education for children and hospital care—while at the same time remaining unaffected by other Western influences or technologies. In this respect, unintentional primitivisation shapes indigenous tourism, posing dilemmas that fuel the ambivalence of the Emberá.

Keywords:   unintentional primitivisation, exoticisation, tourist expectations, indigenous tourism, Chagres, Panama

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