Pathways in the periphery: Tourism to indigenous communities in Panama

Citation
Sg. Snow et Cl. Wheeler, Pathways in the periphery: Tourism to indigenous communities in Panama, SOC SCI Q, 81(3), 2000, pp. 732-749
Citations number
33
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Sociology & Antropology
Journal title
SOCIAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY
ISSN journal
0038-4941 → ACNP
Volume
81
Issue
3
Year of publication
2000
Pages
732 - 749
Database
ISI
SICI code
0038-4941(200009)81:3<732:PITPTT>2.0.ZU;2-0
Abstract
Objective. In this era of neoliberal economic policies, tourism offers deve loping nations a rare opportunity for a source of economic growth that can substantially benefit the poorest of the poor: indigenous peoples. Very lit tle is known, however, about the circumstances that allow visitors' dollars to assist indigenous communities most effectively and those that can make tourists a destructive presence. Methods. The paper analyzes, in comparativ e perspective, tourism to Mo indigenous nations in Panama, the Kuna and the Embera/Wounaan. The central data upon which the paper is based consist of forty-two interviews with Indians, conducted at twelve different tourist lo cations in Panama; sixteen interviews with all ten firms offering tours to indigenous communities in 1996-97; and interviews and informal discussions with government officials, biologists, members of nongovernmental environme ntal organizations, and academic specialists in indigenous affairs. The maj ority of the interviews were conducted from June to December 1996. Other da ta include published and nonpublished materials from the Kuna and Embera/Wo unaan Congresses. Translations from the Spanish are the authors'. Results. The paper finds that where indigenous culture is relatively strong (i.e., l ess influenced by non-Indian society), tourism tends to cause its decay; wh ere it is relatively weak, tourism can give incentives for its regeneration . Conclusions. While there are some unavoidable negative effects associated with tourism, indigenous communities can ameliorate some problems by formu lating a clear plan and educating the members of their communities as to it s contents.