About the BookThe Otavaleños of northern Andean Ecuador's Imbabura province are unique in that they maintain their traditional identity but also cultivate a cosmopolitanism through frequent international travel. Michelle Wibbelsman examines Otavalo and Cotacachi ritual practices and public festivals, exploring the moral, mythic, and modern crossroads at which Otavaleños stand and how, at this junction, they define themselves as millennial people.
Wibbelsman examines the Otavaleños' deeply engagement with transnational mobility and the cultural transformations that have resulted from Otavalan participation in global markets, international consumer trends, and technological developments. Yet rituals persist as important processes for symbolically capturing and critically assessing cultural changes in the face of modern influences. As religious expression, political commentary, transcendental communication, moral judgment, and transformative experience, Otavalan rituals constitute enduring practices that affirm ethnic identities, challenge dominant narratives, and take issue with power inequalities behind hegemony. Ritual Encounters thus offers an appreciation of the modern and mythic community as a single and emergent condition.