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Cultural heritage tourism in the Versalles Itonama Indigenous Community

This project explores the relationship between archaeology, natural resource management and landscape perception of the indigenous Itonama community of Versalles. The project follows an alternative approach to traditional archaeological practices and heritage management by considering the local context of Versalles in the Departmental Park and Integrated Management Natural Area (PD ANMI) Iténez, allowing archaeological data to be used in a social dimension of the heritage and in relation to the quality of life of the population of Versalles.

Thanks to a GCRF Global Impact Acceleration Account research grant, UK Research and Innovation and a joint endeavour amongst the University of Exeter, the University of Bonn, Wildlife Conservation Society and the Versalles community, it was possible to implement an interdisciplinary approach, combining archaeology, anthropology, cultural geography and territorial management, for the elaboration of a governance plan for the community of Versalles, which allowed the identification of the potential of the archaeology, landscape and cultural heritage for the development of ecotourism in the region.


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Together with the population of Versalles, archaeological, historical and natural resource management maps were created. These maps represent both the physical landscape and socially and historically constructed conceptions of landscape. In addition, guides on archaeology, culture, fishes of the Iténez-Guaporé River and mammals used by the people of Versalles were jointly elaborated. These guides constitute a biography of the community of Versalles and a sample of its complex systems of knowledge. Through these guides, the population formally recognizes and implements its right to access its heritage and participate actively in its management, strengthening the collective memory, updating and reinforcing community interest for the places and objects of the pre-Columbian past.

The community of Versalles is located on the Iténez-Guaporé River, which marks the border between Bolivia and Brazil. During the rubber boom at the beginning of the 20th century, a multi-ethnic population was settled on archaeological sites that date back thousands of years. The history of Versalles is impregnated with tales of slavery, but also of resistance; of the extraction of natural resources, but also of ecological awareness. Its current practices, the perception of its landscape, the rights over its territory and the governance of its heritage, try to maintain the richness of its environment and cultural heritage. Despite ruptures throughout history, the archaeological heritage and the people of Versalles constitute a "living heritage" and their safeguarding is based on connecting past and present for a better future.


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Project Team

José Iriarte (Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter)

Carla Jaimes Betancourt (Department for the Anthropology of the Americas, University of Bonn)

Kantuta Lara (Wildlife Conservation Society)

Zulema Lehm (Wildlife Conservation Society)

Gabriela Prestes Carneiro (Universidad Federal do Oeste do Pará)

Franziska Riedel (Independent Research)

Mark Robinson (Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter)


GCRF Global Impact Acceleration Account research grant, UK Research and Innovation


More info can be found here.

Más información puede ser encontrada aquí.