ASA conference 2007
 - Thinking through tourism

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Poster presentations        (H1)

Location Ground floor foyer, Graduate Centre; outside T120
Date and Time TBA


Julie Scott
Tom Selwyn (SOAS)
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Short abstract

All poster presentations should be submitted to this 'panel'. Please provide an abstract as to what you aim to present in your poster. Please give some idea as to the visual material to be presented.

Long abstract

Posters will be displayed in the refreshments and publisher space during the conference. They will thus be available for viewing throughout the conference and get maximum exposure. Authors will be present by their posters during the Wednesday lunchtime and/or the Thursday after-lunch session, so as to be able to answer questions from interested delegates.

Poster authors will be allocated a set of poster boards, and given velcro/drawing pins/sellotape. Posters will be no larger than A1 size. Posters created in a digital format may also be posted online.

Propose a paper


Buffalo Bill's Wild West, Disney and other spectacular spaces: native experiences in public entertainment from the 19th century to the present

Author(s): Linda McNenly 


Scholars have examined the essentialised, stereotypical representations of Native culture in exhibitions, Wild West shows and tourism as an extension of the colonial project. More specifically, a body of literature on "Buffalo Bill" and his Wild West show exists, including biographies, historical studies, and analyses on how Wild West shows intersect with the "myth of the frontier" and the construction of American history and identity. While these studies shed light on nationalism and colonialism, we still know very little about the experiences of Native participants. How do Native people create meaning in these spaces? How do Native performers negotiate constructions of identity, history, and culture? Do Native performers wield any agency? What can we learn about the politics of representation in spectacle from the Native performer's perspective? Drawing on ethnographic, ethnohistorical research conducted from August 2004 to September 2005, my presentation explores these questions. This poster examines the representation and performance of 'Nativeness' in Wild West shows - past and present - focusing on Native perspectives, experiences and stories.

Cuban museums and Afro-Cuban heritage production in socialist Cuba

Author(s): Michelle Flikke 


This poster examines how Cuba's socialist state redefined Afro-Cuban religions as national heritage through heritage and museum policies in the 1970s and 1980s. In Cuba's Republican era, politicians and social scientists perceived Afro-Cuban religions as obstacles to Cuban social development. For most people Afro-Cuban religions represented a primitive, criminal underworld left over from slavery and the colonial society.

I compare exhibitions of Afro-Cuban religions at two state museums (the Municipal Museum of Regla and Africa House) and a private exhibition space (Palace of the Orishas) in Cuba. I argue that by defining these practices as national heritage and exhibiting them in public museums, the state also created discursive space for creative interpretation by religious practitioners. A growing number of Afro-Cuban practitioners are using their homes as exhibition spaces, opening their private collections of religious objects to the gaze of public and international tourists.

Palace of the Orishas is one example of private Afro-Cuban religious exhibitions, which illustrate how individuals take advantage of the government's appropriation and display of their practices in state museums. The proprietors of these private exhibition spaces reassert ownership of their personal heritage by maintaining autonomy from the state museum system. Furthermore they emphasise their entitlement to participate in the state-dominated heritage industry, which has nationalised intimate aspects of their personal and family history.

This poster illustrates how Cuban museums have produced Afro-Cuban heritage and how heritage and social life are intertwined in contemporary Cuba.

Identifying backpackers

Author(s): Kenny Archibald 


This poster aims to present the theoretical basis of my forthcoming fieldwork on notions of 'race', whiteness and post/colonialism in the 'backpacking community'. Focusing on historically tracing the rise of the postcolonial backpacker, from roots that arguably exist in the 'Grand Tour' and colonial enterprises, this poster will provide a theoretical definition of what is, and what it is to be a backpacker. Drawing on published ethnographic material, I will outline a theory of the internal social structure of the backpacking community. Furthermore, indications will be made of frequently cited reasons for undertaking a backpacking trip, in terms of aims and goals that include 'finding oneself', experiencing other cultures, engaging with 'new spiritualities', and meeting people. Created in a digital format, this poster will include textual, schematic, and photographic elements that will combine to provide a clear example of a theoretical backpacker.

On ethnography, identities and tourism: notes from Malacca's Portuguese settlement (West Malaysia)

Author(s): Ema Claúdia Ribeiro Pires 


This poster explores relations between Anthropology, Tourism and Cultural process and derives from PhD work in progress. Applying a combination of ethnographic and discourse-centered approaches to an exploratory case study in the city of Malacca, West Malaysia, it focuses in spatial identities and tourism process. This is drawn from a general interest in how experience is embedded in place and how space holds memories that implicate people and events. Taking Malacca's Portuguese Settlement as the empirical locus, it considers strategies that Portuguese Eurasian Community has to cope with tourism. Regarding spatial identities, residents imagine the Portuguese Settlement as the stage upon which social memory is constructed, where locality is 'produced', as well as a site for tourism performance both on local, national and trans-national contexts. Local residents' multi-vocal discourse seems to appropriate 20th century ethnographic (colonial and post-colonial) discourses on the Settlement, also appropriated within tourism process. The visual material to be presented includes text, map and photographs. A short discussion will be drawn from the preliminary data presented.

Key-words: Tourism, Ethnography, Place, Portuguese-Eurasians, Malaysia.

On framing the reintroduction of a plant in the idiom of marketing: (re)constructing the patrimony of absinth

Author(s): Arnaud Van De Casteele 


This poster is based on photographs taken during my social anthropological research on the recent reconstruction and rehabilitation of Jurassic wormwood in the French region bordering Switzerland (Franco-Switzerland). Part of the ethnographic component of reflections on regional identities and territory, the images also attempt to show cultural features evident in the relation between a space – a localised mountain micro-region – and socio-economic practices among local people that are associated with the reintroduction and consumption of a universally known drink. It is a question of both grasping and understanding the way wormwood is associated with its area of origin, the collective aura to which this plant gives rise, transformed into a drink, elevated to the status of myth in the registration of qualifications among collectives groups of actors associated with the production and consumption networks of absinth. It is thus a question of making a visual inventory of the forms and dynamics around developments generated by growers, distillers, those promoting its ancestral heritage, and even of collectors and passionate devotees. Absinth turns out to be a formidable tool for cultural promotion, tourism, part of the relationship between locals and tourists that is couched in terms of its patrimony or economy depending on whether one speaks about it as a plant, substance, ingredient, drink, product of the terroir, a taste, a myth, or a notion of tourism and identity. It will be photographed and thus listed on these territories and places of origin, the various tendencies, divergences, similarities and compartmentalisations making it possible to constitute a comprehensive view of the worlds of absinth. Indeed, the prospects are for (re)evaluations of the product to turn into the spearhead for its universalisation by proposing to the city that it be adopted as the emblem of the area and of its inhabitants. With no hesitation joint arrangements have been set up with their Swiss neighbours for a possible project on “The country of absinth” (“Pays de l’absinthe”), an attempt at cultural redefinition of the product is anticipated. The town museum of Pontarlier has a accumulated a collection of objects and works about absinthe and has worked tirelessly for six years organising the “Absinthiades”, (the village of Boveresse in Val-de-Travers as for him celebrate each year since ten years famous “the festival of the absinth” (“La fête de l’absinthe”) which is an annual festival celebrating and promoting understanding of the various aspects of absinth not just to a regional but also an international public.

PDF Download PDF of paper

Saison opening: cultural transfer along new East German-Alpine routes of migration

Author(s): Michael Zinganel 
Michael Hieslmair 


Since 1999/2000 when private German job agencies, in collaboration with the Austrian employment services centre, began an aggressive campaign in Germany's new federal states to recruit personnel for the winter season in Austria, more and more Germans are rushing to the Alps: no longer as holiday-makers but as seasonal personnel, working where other people go on vacation.

For this project a fictitious shrinking city in eastern Germany – a source region of tourists as well as seasonal labour – and a real booming major tourist centre in the mountains of the Tyrol are contrasted associatively with one another like vessels that alternately empty and fill.

The project is based on interviews with people looking for work, employment agencies and employers in eastern Germany and the Tyrol. For our projections, their real micro-political visions were temporally and spatially compressed and exaggerated to the point where they culminated in an optimistic outlook on the range of available personal options: the transfer of cultural know-how, capital accumulated during seasonal work, social skills and the use of the trans-national social networks that emerge from tourism's subcultures are able to complement each other productively; as well as how people's heterogeneous experience of tourism can offer unexpected opportunities for self-empowerment…

The virtual tourist in the Mediterranean

Author(s): Julie Scott 


This poster presentation explores the activity of virtual travel around a simulated Mediterranean.Created in the course of an EU Euromed Heritage project, the 'Mediterranean Voices' website forms a multi-media database of the 'intangible heritage' of Mediterranean cities. However, the navigation of the website has been designed to function less as an information retrieval system, and more as an invitation to travel, to make unexpected connections and serendipitous discoveries. Drawing on some of the material from, the poster presentation reflects on the use of hypermedia as a technology for imagining and representing the Mediterranean, and the nature of the spatialitity emerging from it. Following de Certeau, the presentation suggests that a visit to the Mediterranean Voices site becomes an act of authorship, in which static notions of 'cultural heritage' and the touristic imagery of the Mediterranean are destabilized by the focus on the everyday and intimate, the interactions of 'visible' and 'invisible' mobile populations as they create 'belonging' and 'meaning' in changing and unstable urban environments, and the absences left by the death or departures of individual 'personalities' or whole communities.

Tourism, ethnography and masks: the patrimonialisation of the Dogon country (Mali)

Author(s): Anne Doquet 


Much favoured by french africanist anthropologists, the Dogon people of Mali are one of the most famous ethnic groups in West Africa and represent for the tourists the model of an ideal culture, miraculously sheltered in the faults of vast cliffs from any outside influence. This renown mainly derives from the discourse of researchers, who tirelessly upkeep the idea of an immutable society, using generic terms and the ethnographic present tense. But it derives equally from the spectacular masked dances which, since the investigations first carried out between 1931 and 1938 until the present day, have continuously drawn the attraction of white people, and more particularly of ethnologists and tourists who nowadays invade the village of Sangha to watch the masked dances. By studying how masks are modified, we are able to show to which extent ethnography and tourism might affect the meaning and the shape of objects in site. Some masks that can be termed ancient, as opposed to those which have only recently appeared in the dances, mimic mythical events, conjuring up the beginnings of creation. However, while calling to mind the basic cultural change values through the repetition of ancestral gestures, the masks dances present a constant renewal as much in their themes as in their forms. The various cultural contacts experienced by the Dogon people have left their mark, from the earlier contacts with neighbouring populations (the Peuhl masks, the muslim marabout…) to the more recent one with white people (policemen, tourist and anthropologist). This cultural evolution not only affects the shapes of the masks, but also their dramatic representation. Far from being fixed, the highly dynamic nature of masks allows a continuous negociation of tradition, whereas the conception that Westerners have of these objects is radically opposed to this vitality. The essential argument of French anthropology presented mythology as the key to understand any cultural component of dogon society. Seen as illustrations of myths, the masks constituted a coherent system inferring the idea of immutability. In the light of an unchanging mythology, they lost their living historical reality and became a timeless object. It is from this perspective that it was displayed in french museums, ethnographers and curators having worked closely together. Subsequently, tourists went to look at masks at work on site. Promoters of tourism have reprocessed the archetypical image modelled by anthropologists. Thus, the Sangha villagers have to produce dances adapted for the visitor's expectations, where every trace of European influence is eliminated, and no "new" mask is displayed. However, this process of erasing cultural evolution, self-evident when the villagers dance for the tourist, is becoming distinctive of the ritual dances currently performed in Sangha. Effectively, in various ceremonies performed in the last years, the masks did not display any new innovations, rather they nowadays reproduced the earliest models. Yet, in the field of sculpture, artistic expressions is full of life. Compared with this formal innovations, the evolution of mask-making seems to be jammed. The financial impact of the tourism, added to the inscription of the Dogon country on the list of the Heritage of Humanity in 1993, quickly led the villagers to create spaces of authenticity. By building socially their authenticity, Dogon fed the patrimonialization of their culture and favored the transformation in emblems of certain behavior or certain objects. Throughout the tourist ways, the anthropological research was translated in a scenic representation of the culture. It thus opened spaces of patrimonialization invested by the foreigners as by the Dogon. Ritual and tourist stages feed mutually. Without claiming thus that Dogon would have absorbed the ethnological image and would passively have become identified with it, we can show that this last one drove the perception and the construction of their own heritage, notably by means of the tourist activities.

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