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THUNHUPHA : a source of a sense of unity within the Tahua Community

Maya RIVERA MAZORCO student laureate

°1980 Bolivia
Licenciate in Anthropology, Universidad Católica Boliviana San Pablo, Cochabamba, Bolivia, 2006

THUNHUPHA: Una fuente del sentimiento de unidad de la comunidad de Tahua

The social, cultural, political, economic, symbolic and festive life of the Aymara communities is organized on the basis of the relationship they have with the Thunhupha volcano situated in the northern part of the Uyuni Salt Flat, in Bolivia.
The starting point of this anthropological study is the myth of Thunhupha within the Tahua community. The author has used all her energy and scientific knowledge in carrying out an in-depth ethnographic study within this community using a methodological approach adapted to the context of the study. And she has not shied away from introducing a personal angle, taking her beyond the conventional approach.

She set out first to shake off her own preconceptions in order, from this perspective, to then take part in the day-to-day life, the festivities and rituals of this community over a long period of time. This has enabled her to present to us a community with an identity, philosophy and world vision of its own, based on its relationship with the Thunhupha volcano, with the Uyuni Salt Flat and with the universe itself.
The Tahua community is involved in a tourism project which is of some concern to the author. She points out the need to respect the culture of this people, to try and find a balance in the relationships involved and to acknowledge seriously and coherently the cultural identity of this community. It is important to recognize that this community has its own answers, which must be taken into account in the design and implementation of development projects that aim to eradicate poverty in the region.
In her study, the author puts forward a proposal of an intercultural method that gives rise to a complementary relationship between the logic of the development projects and the logic of the communities who want to preserve their ancestral customs. All this is what makes this dissertation an excellent piece of work, with plenty of sound, coherent and pertinent recommendations for the problems involved in development.

Report: Mrs Celia Bartra, Social Anthropologist, Belgium