The community of Agua Blanca, deep within the Machalilla National Park on the coast of Ecuador, found itself facing the twenty-first century with a choice: embrace a booming tourist industry eager to experience a preconceived notion of indigeneity, or risk losing a battle against the encroaching forces of capitalism and development. The facts spoke for themselves, however, as tourism dollars became the most significant source of income in the community.
Thus came a nearly inevitable shock, as the daily rhythms of life--rising before dawn to prepare for a long day of maintaining livestock and crops; returning for a late lunch and siesta; joining in a game of soccer followed by dinner in the evening--transformed forever in favor of a new tourist industry and the compromises required to support it. As "e;Practically Invisible"e; demonstrates, for Agua Blancans, becoming a supposedly "e;authentic"e; version of their own indigenous selves required performing their culture for outsiders, thus becoming these performances within the minds of these visitors. At the heart of this story, then, is a delicate balancing act between tradition and survival, a performance experienced by countless indigenous groups.
Vanderbilt University Press
Coastal Ecuador, Tourism, and the Politics of Authenticity