The Illusion of Openness HTML version

Sydney Boles
Contemporary Indigenous Peoples in Latin America
Spring, 2012
Jacobo Schifter
the easily visible aspects of culture are the easiest to change but the least
representative of cultural vibrancy. For example, the French and the Germans dress
quite similarly, drive similar cars and live in similar houses, but their worldviews
are dramatically different. (This example only goes so far, however, because there is
little history of conquest or dominance between the two nations.) Ultimately,
though, the fact that the people of Boruca have adopted some external factors from
their conquerors does not in itself decide that the Boruca have lost the battle for
cultural independence.
Secondly, despite the inevitable encroachment of Western products as
globalization’s fingers prod into more and more places the Boruca are focused and
intent upon keeping their culture. (While it is good that they devote energy to
maintaining their legacy, it is also important to note that a cultural legacy is no
longer a right.) Most of the town’s economy is based on tourism most of the men
work carving the ornate traditional masks that commemorate their defeat of the
Spanish; many of the women earn a living by making the traditional weavings.
Over the forty-year span of the cultural revival movement in Boruca, more
than just the professions have changed. Where once it was considered a shame to be
indigenous, (children who left the community to go to high school would lie about
their origins, [Morales, Margarita. Personal Interview. March 7, 2012]), now the
majority of residents of Boruca are proud of their indigenous heritage. There are
lessons in the traditional language in schools, and they celebrate their festival juego
de los diablitos every year and with gusto.