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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rapa Nui on the Verge: Easter Island’s Struggles with Integration and Globalization in the Information Age

  • Author(s): Delaune, Gregory
  • et al.

Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile), though previously cast in mystery and misunderstanding, has emerged as a global focus for indigenous land rights, thanks largely to increased global awareness made possible via  internet-enabled social media platforms. Beginning with the arrival of the first human settlers on the shores of this island paradise, the adverse consequences of human ingenuity, overpopulation, and globalization have pushed the island’s ecosystem beyond its carrying capacity, leading to cycles of environmental and sociocultural development and collapse. As a global microcosm, this cycle holds valuable lessons for how the rest of the world can sustainably manage environmental, cultural and economic resources. Applying modern tools and techniques, the inhabitants of Rap Nui now hold the promise of achieving an environmentally sustainable lifestyle, while maintaining their cultural and economic autonomy.

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