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Articulating Rapa NuiPolynesian Cultural Politics in a Latin American Nation-State$
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Riet Delsing

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824851682

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824851682.001.0001

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Rapa Nui as Fantasy and Commodity

Rapa Nui as Fantasy and Commodity

(p.207) Chapter 9 Rapa Nui as Fantasy and Commodity
Articulating Rapa Nui

Riet Delsing

University of Hawai'i Press

The world’s fascination with Rapa Nui and its growing tourist industry is discussed. Rapa Nui has been clouded in mystery and romanticism ever since its “discovery” by the West. Both the enigma and globalized image of the moai, and the “living culture” are ingredients of the Rapanui tourist product. In a section about examples of outsiders’ symbolic appropriation of Rapanui traditional culture, I discuss European visual artists and European and American esoteric writers who take their inspiration from the moai and other Rapanui cultural expressions. American and Chilean movies and TV series have been base on the island as well. I also show how the Rapanui themselves have a firm grip on this tourist market. This is followed by various vignettes of the experience of individual tourists on the island: the president of the Czech Republic Václav Havel, the Spanish monarchs, French Concorde tourists, a Dutch seafarer and an Italian playwright. I then discuss the huge impact of tourism on the island. Not only has it become the main source of income, it has also effected its ecology and commodified its traditional culture.

Keywords:   tourism, Rapa Nui, fascination, mystery, moai, European, American, Chilean, movies, TV, economy, ecology, commodification

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