Steps towards Cultural Revitalization through Community-Based Development in the Peruvian Andes



TIME | 1 December 2011, 4pm onwards

LOCATION | CSAFE Seminar Room, , Dunedin



Indigenous Quechua communities of the Peruvian Andes face a paradigm shift as development rapidly replaces tradition. However, local inhabitants do not reap benefits; instead, they are in a vicious cycle of poverty and cultural threat. The textile tradition is an integral part of Quechua culture and economy. However, due to socioeconomic pressures, the oral knowledge required to transmit the tradition is disappearing. Because weaving is one of the only written forms of historical documentation, its disappearance causes great risk to Quechua language and culture. Alongside this threat, communities have experienced a sudden increase in tourism and development. Due to lack of education, locals are unable to obtain employment in these new sectors. Outcomes include increased poverty and unemployment rates.

Alternative solutions to protect Quechua educational and cultural rights need to approach this dichotomy in a mutually reinforcing manner, to successfully “preserve the past” while “developing for the future.” This presentation will explore this challenge by analysing the balance between fulfilling the right to development and the right to cultural integrity, with specific focus on the role played by non-state actors such as community members and NGOs.

About the Speaker

Ashli Akins currently splits her time between Dunedin, New Zealand; Ollantaytambo, Peru; Oxford, England; and Victoria, Canada. She is a graduate student at the University of Oxford in International Human Rights Law, and previously graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies, Latin American studies, and professional writing (journalism & publishing) from the University of Victoria. Akins is the founder and director of Mosqoy: Sacred Valley Youth Fund, as well as the founder and president of the Q’ente Textile Revitalization Society, two non-profit organizations that promote educational and cultural rights in marginalized indigenous Quechua communities of the Peruvian Andes.

Additionally, Akins is a photojournalist, writer, and communications consultant, aiming to educate about human rights and environmental issues through the media. In 2008, she completed a photography research internship in New York City with National Geographic Adventure magazine. Her current contracts include communications and outreach work for the Salmon Coast Field Station Society (Broughton Archipelago, Canada) and Health for Humanity Service Society (Antigua, Guatemala). 




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