Seizing the lake : tourism, identity and power of the indigenous peoples of Quilotoa, Ecuador
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This study examines processes by which indigenous people in the central highlands of Ecuador embrace family-based non-traditional economic alternatives to complement agrarian economies. I explore the indigenous community of Ponce-Quilotoa, located at the volcanic Lake Quilotoa, to understand how and why it has developed indigenous controlled tourist activities over the last decade. The case study places special focus on uncovering the rationale for choosing tourism as the alternative, understanding processes of empowerment, tracking the building of grassroots tourist organizations and exploring the contradictory ways in which indigenous peoples adapt to tourism at the family and community levels. It concludes that we cannot study Quilotoa's recent use of tourism merely as an economic alternative; rather, we must simultaneously study it as the indigenous response to claim a share of economic and social power historically held by the mestizo elite.