Maria A. P. Woolson

Silent Voices, Forgotten Wisdom. Rapa Nui as Cultural Mirror of Colonized Discourses in Environmental Politics


Discourses of sustainable development related to Easter Island and the Rapa Nui people obscure the contradictory impact of environmental and cultural conservation policies. This paper examines the contradictions produced by contemporary practices and the narratives that inconsistently recognize the cultural dimension in which environmental discourses and politics are situated. This inconsistency continues to impact the island’s original people, risking a gradual dissolution of collective identities, social solidarity and traditional practices. Integrating perspectives from cultural studies, cultural anthropology and political ecology, the analysis proposes an ethical interrogation of discursive and political tension, which materialize in the land tenure system and other policies that regulate the island’s territory. The discussion further suggests a need to decolonialize contemporary discourses of conservation and research methods, while exploring opportunities for community self-representation.