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Module 4: Self-Determined Development

About the Video | Key Concepts | Before Watching | After Watching | Resources and Interesting Intersections


About the Video

In this video, Duarte Morais, Associate Professor of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management (now at North Carolina State University), tells the story of Lan Yue, a tiny windswept Taiwanese island where a tourism development project failed because the government did not consider the people's cultural mores and knowledge of the local weather patterns. Another story about the Yami people suggests that a community should have the right to represent themselves, formulate their identity, and decide what aspects of their culture are showcased to the outside world.

Video: AcademIK Connections Module 4: Self-Determined Development

Printer-friendly version of Module 4: Self-Determined Development [Word]

Key Concepts

Tourism: is travel that may be for recreational, educational, service learning or for business purposes to an area other than a person’s normal residence. It may take the tourist to an area that is very different from his/her home community and may result in experiencing a completely different cultural environment. Tourism should ideally benefit both the community being visited and the visiting tourist. Tourism development that involves participation in, and decision making by, the local community is more likely to be sustainable and of benefit to the community.

Primitive: is a term sometimes used to describe practices, conditions or situations that may once have been the norm in a society, but are no longer commonly observed because they have been largely replaced by more technologically sophisticated tools or techniques.

Self-Determination: is the power or ability to make a decision for oneself without influence from an outside source. It is the ability of the people to determine their own form of governance, practice their religion, maintain cultural practices, and reside on and control the resources of their traditional lands.

Golden Period: is a time in the past in which a community thrived; doing well without endangering the environment. During this period, the community may have developed strategies for addressing environmental challenges while sustaining its population. Preserving and applying such knowledge might be useful as local residents cope with the challenges of living in a globalizing economy.

Top-Down Project: an effort by the national government to help indigenous people develop economically, without considering local perspectives, knowledge or learning from indigenous ways. (Example given by Duarte Morais regarding the Lan yue’s relationship with the Taiwanese government).

Fish Farming: in Hualien, Taiwan fish farming is practiced by many indigenous cultures as a way of assuring a readily available supply of high quality dietary protein. The Hualien developed a way of successfully raising fish by placing clumps of twigs of varying sizes in local streams. They pride themselves in having developed this technology and are proud to show tourists how it is done.


Before Watching


  1. Have you ever had to deal with tourism in your community? Explain the situation and how it affected you. Have you ever been a tourist in an indigenous community? If so, what was the peoples’ reaction towards you?
  2. Do you think tourism is good for your community? What do you believe to be the positive and negative aspects of tourism in your community? For specific groups of individuals? For the community as a whole? For you and your family?

After Watching

  1. Discussion topics Related to this Video
    • How do people adapt to tourism? How does tourism affect a community?
    • What form of tourism tends to be beneficial to the community? Why do you think so?
    • How do you think your community could achieve a golden period without hurting the environment? What are some practices that you are proud your local community is doing to develop economically without damaging the natural environment?
    • Why do you think it is important to learn about communities world-wide in order to improve your local community?
    • How did the people in Hualien, Taiwan adapt their culture to tourism? What things about the Hualien culture did they choose to highlight for tourists? Is there an aspect of your culture that you would be proud to share with tourists?
    • Why do you think the Hualien people do not want to share negative, primitive, aspects of their culture? How do these negative aspects shape the society today? What is the effect on a culture of selecting only positive elements to feature in its touristic image?
    • Do you think the primitive aspect that Duarte Morais describes has an effect on the Hualiens’ behavior? Has it affected the resources they use? Is there some aspect of your culture’s past that you would describe as primitive? Do you think it affects the way you live today?
  2. Related Indigenous Knowledge topics for further exploration
    • Relate this video to the Grassroots Sustainability video. Briefly talk about the food production efforts in Havana, Cuba and how other communities might learn and practice indigenous agriculture in urban settings.
    • Do you think it is helpful when the government tries to give aid to struggling communities? Talk about the help the government tried to provide in this (Self-Determined Development) video and the effect of eliminating subsidies from the Soviets in the Grassroots Sustainability video. How do you think the relationship between governments and their indigenous peoples can be improved?


Resources and Interesting Intersections

  • Tourism and its Effects on Southeast Alaska Communities [PDF]
    This is a published research paper by the United States Department of Agriculture. It discusses the effects of tourism in a community in Alaska through case studies and research. It mentions the economic effects and the sociocultural effects and delves into the understanding of tourism.
  • Botswana Government Needs to Respect Indigenous People
    This article is about the government in Botswana implementing a mining operation in the Kgeikani’s land. The government encourages the people to relocate to areas with social amenities, but the people want to remain on their traditional lands. This tells of a negative relationship between a national government and a small population of indigenous peoples.
  • How Your Travel Will Affect Local Communities
    This article is about how the social implications of travel are often overlooked. It touches on topics such as the loss of culture, culture clashes, physical influences, and strengthening communities.
  • Hualien County
    This is a site that gives information about traveling in Hualien, Taiwan. Durate Morias speaks about tourism aspects in this county and this site is an example of the tourism inHualien. It shows the positive aspects of their culture and does not mention the deer hunting that the indigenous people are not proud of. This is a good way to see the real-life example that Duarte Morais provides in the video.