P23
Selling culture without selling out: producing new indigenous tourism(s)

Convenors:
Alexis Bunten (Humboldt State University)
Chellie Spiller (University of Auckland)
Discussant:
Manuka Henare
Location:
H
Start time:
11 December, 2008 at 10:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

The panel titled, "Selling Culture Without Selling Out: Producing New Indigenous Tourism(s)" presents case studies that explore Indigenous communities' varied approaches to commodifying their own cultures while adhering to local protocols that govern cultural patrimony and intellectual property.

Long abstract:

In the past, tourism has served as a crucial site where members of dominant societies consume and appropriate the cultures of subaltern groups often forced through necessity to participate in an industry that capitalizes on difference. Today, sustainable tourism is poised as an economic panacea for communities whose traditional ways of life have been compromised by the dominant societies to which they belong. Indigenous communities are responding to this opportunity (or threat depending on perspective) in innovative ways that set them apart from their non-Indigenous predecessors and competitors. Indigenous participation in tourism forces collective introspection. With the choice to commodify one's culture comes great responsibility over cultural, material and spiritual resources. Developing a model for Indigenous cultural tourism that is competitive within the dominant political economy and upholds cultural patrimony is not an easy task. Beyond the practicalities of daily operations, Indigenous leaders must measure the potential for political, financial and cultural benefits of participation in tourism against cultural degradation that can result from packaging culture according to outside tastes and consumptive patterns. Approaches that support economic growth in tourism can be in direct conflict with traditional protocols governing cultural resources, intellectual property and secrecy, a tactic employed by many Indigenous communities to survive generations of physical and cultural genocide. Drawing from a range of case studies in New Zealand, Australia and beyond, this panel explores the innovative solutions that Indigenous leaders have developed to boost local economies through cultural tourism while upholding traditional values that govern cultural patrimony.