Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Final Project Proposal - Indigenous Politics of Latin America


For my final paper I want to analyze how western media portrays indigenous culture and how that has created the “need to save mentality” on a governmental and personal level. Indigenous people of all nations and continents are brought to the US in the form of National Geographic, and other media sources, with painted faces and cultural practices that we fail to understand; we place indigenous people into the category of incompetent. US government has time and time again attempted to play the role of super heroes and save the undeveloped from themselves; this culture of US imperialism has contributed to the creation of a mindset that we must save the “other” people. This mindset has progressed to the point where it has almost become a right of passage to travel to Latin America to conduct community service. This rise in “aid tourism” has become a way by which westerners, and especially white westerners can attempt to eliminate their guilt and come away feeling good about themselves. This tourism has impacted indigenous communities in both negative and positive ways.
The project will be based on analyses of media imagery in television and magazines of indigenous Latin American Cultures, as well as examinations of various United States based government and non-government based organizations that travel to indigenous communities. I intend to investigate US government policies in Latin America and study the history of where those policies are rooted. In the end I will examine how different organizations have effectively and ineffectively operated within indigenous communities and what impact those efforts have had on the indigenous communities.

What is the impact of western aid tourism on indigenous communities?
How has the US government/media system created the savior mentality?
Who actually is helped by these organizations?
What kind of “help” do westerners bring to indigenous communities, is this actual help?
Do western organizations have a right to give aid in these communities?
How can westerners and western organizations work within communities in a way that respects and preserves them?

Thoughts? Sources for me to check out?

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