Indigeneity, Autonomy and New Cultural Spaces: The Decolonisation of Practices, Being and Place through Tourism in Alto Bío-Bío, Chile
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis explores the engagement of a group of Mapuche-Pewenche communities with tourism in southern Chile. I argue that Trekaleyin, their tourism initiative, is part of a broader and long history of resistance and struggles for autonomy, territory and decolonisation, in which identity, development, agency and relations with other beings are negotiated, revitalised and re-produced. From my experience working as a development practitioner with these communities in the beginnings of Trekaleyin, I became interested in understanding the ways in which, as a collective experience, it is embedded in and articulated with political concerns and contestation with regards to neoliberalism and multiculturalism. I also became interested in how the communities are incorporating and reactivating diverse and solidarity economies in their work on tourism, while at the same time reworking their relations with and the market economy itself. I suggest that through Trekaleyin, the communities are also re-producing a relational and open sense of place and connectivity, mobilising particular ways of knowing, being and relating to territory and more-than-human beings in a context of global neoliberalism, reshaping scales and their possibilities. With this thesis I aim to explore how, through their engagement in tourism, community members are disrupting, expanding and hybridising discourses and practices around development, the economy, nature and cross-cultural relations, reworking them so as to craft a better position from where they can participate in them, but the consequences of which extend beyond the “local”, affecting us all, both indigenous and non-indigenous. Therefore, from an ethnographic site and poststructural, post-human and decolonising geographic approaches, this thesis brings new perspectives to the study of development, tourism and the environment, particularly among indigenous peoples, in which autonomy, hybridity, diversity and relational ontologies are articulated.