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Transformation of indigenous relations with nature: Ecological discourses, ecotourism and gender in Mexico

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Eveline Dürr

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG DU 209/16-1, 2013-2016)

Indigenous communities are affected by global discourses on environmental degradation and climate change. Sometimes portrayed as polluters with non-sustainable economies, indigenous communities are also portrayed as particularly close or related to nature. Increasingly, indigenous actors are using such romanticized representations to advance their economies. This is the case in community based ecotourism projects framed by globalized discourses on environmental degradation and environmental protection. This project investigates the social consequences of these processes in Oaxaca, Mexico, where the state supports community based ecotourism projects in indigenous communities both financially and logistically. We scrutinize how creative appropriation and translation of ecological discourses impacts on perceptions of nature, and place particular emphasis on gender specific dimensions. By applying a gender informed perspective this study generates new insights in nature based, cultural transformations processes in indigenous contexts and makes a substantial contribution to the theoretical analysis of discourse and practice systems, nature relations, tourism and concepts of appropriation.