In the Andean city of Otavalo, Ecuador, a cultural renaissance is now taking place against a backdrop of fading farming traditions, transnational migration, and an influx of new consumer goods. Recently, Otavalenos have transformed their textile trade into a prosperous tourist industry, exporting colorful weavings around the world.
Tracing the connections among newly invented craft traditions, social networks, and consumption patterns, Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld highlights the way ethnic identities and class cultures materialize in a sensual world that includes luxurious woven belts, powerful stereos, and garlic roasted "cuyes" (guinea pigs). Yet this case reaches beyond the Andes. He shows how local and global interactions intensify the cultural expression of the world's emerging "native middle classes," at times leaving behind those unable to afford the new trappings of indigenous identity.
Colloredo-Mansfeld also comments on his experiences working as an artist in Otavalo. His drawings, along with numerous photographs, animate this engaging study in economic anthropology.