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Cultural Exchange via Internet - Opportunities and Strategies
Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, 12 October, 1998 - ... open end

Subject:Re: folklore and tourism?
Date:Wed, 16 Dec 1998 08:59
Author:Hans Braumüller  []

Hello all,

at 12 Dec 1998 17:06 Joana Breidenbach wrote:
Belize has for some centuries now been part of the worldsystem - on terms which were not by its own making. But the question is not how to turm the clock backwards or preserve some mystic "traditional" culture, but how we enable indigenous people nowerdays to gain more control of their fate.

I agree with you on the above mentioned idea. My project "Crosses of The Earth" is a cooperation with CONACIN (Coordinadora Nacional Indianista), a nation wide organization of indigenous people in Chile. With their help we will install this networking art project on a hill at the capital Santiago de Chile, in october 2000. This hill was formerly used for rituals by the indigenous ancestors. I am trying to connect the networking art world and the indigenous movement - because I think we must build alliances against the monster of neo-liberalism whose only fuel is profit - and to support indigenous people worldwide who are fighting for recognition as self-determined nations. This self-determination does not imply to only preserve some "traditional culture", but the right to be the own protagonists of their destiny. I think they can be a guide for the western culture, which is getting lost in a histeria of mass consumption and progress. The western ideals are exhausted when even the actual German government, conformed in part by the purportedly alternative Green party, can only perpetuate former economic models of growth.

Joana Breidenbach wrote:
According to the anthropologist Richard Wilk, who I was mentioning in my earlier mail, various people in Belize identify with highly diverse groups (mostly inspired by North America, yes "americanization"!): They take as their role models among others 1. the highly politicised Maya and Garifunda communities in the US, 2. the catholic church, 3. the US-pop culture (NBA, MTV, Cosby show) and 4. the official "developement" model proposed by the government.

It would be interesting for an anthropologist like Richard Wilk to carry out similar studies in Europe :-) he would find out that the role models you mention are similar.

Joana Breidenbach wrote:
As a huge industry (involving 800 Million people on the move eyery year)it is not only responsible for the wealth of many countries, but incresingly people all over the world utilize tourism in order to revive and strengthen their own identities (often vis a vis their own hegemonic and oppressive national governments).

"Folklore" takes power away from the communities to engage in a fight for their rights; folklore satisfies the western eye looking for something exotic and, accordingly, handycraft. In fact, the artisan gets only a small percentage of his product. There is no obvious political message in handycraft, it is a bit like producing bananas for the world market. "Folklore" is relegated to the indigenous producer, art is to be found at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, just like in Paris, Berlin or New York. Just great! Because the Chilean do not believe that the indigenous people are making art but handycraft. The Chileans ape their big brothers in Paris, Berlin and New York, as they do not want to take side with marginalized indigenous culture living in poverty and injustice. Folklore and handycraft need to be used to create our identity as Latinamericans, not to serve tourism.
I wish for an indigenous group to be present at the next Documenta, or any of the Biennale in order to question contemporary culture on this planet.

Greetings, Hans

Thanks to Karen Michelsen for translating and discussing my thoughts into English.

please send your cross

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