ASA12: Arts and aesthetics in a globalising world

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, 3rd-6th April 2012


Consuming culture: the politics and aesthetics of cultural tourism in different national traditions

Location CSSS Class Room No.103, First Floor, SSS-II
Date and Start Time 05 April, 2012 at 08:30


Soumendra Patnaik (University of Delhi) email
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Short Abstract

Influence of globalization on local culture and economy through tourism has implications for community identity. The panel would debate on the way cultural representation is monopolized in the hands of powerful having more of economic and political concerns than aesthetics ones.

Long Abstract

The growing expansion of tourism industry in the global market carries significant consequences for the everyday life of the local communities. The commodification of cultural objects such as artifacts, handicrafts, art forms and performances is linked to creation of a class of entrepreneurs having no contribution to the aesthetic production but playing a decisive role in its economic and political circulation. Cultural spaces and physical places get permeated by market forces operating at national and global level further strengthen the monopoly of culturally non producing emerging elite and marginalization of the local artisans and cultural performers.

The decision making process involving the production and circulation of cultural commodities through market linkages is a challenge posed to the traditional ritualised space of its production. Experiential tourism, ethnic/rural tourism and other are important tourism products that are getting more and more integrated with market needs marking a shift from the plane of aesthetics to business mediated through power. Touristic relationships have differential levels of power dynamics and interests that get negotiated variedly .Relevance of 'place' or 'space' identity of the local community having exclusive control over the resources often clash between the host population and touristic interests. The panel seeks to examine these issues in the light of different national and regional traditions so as to understand the role of state policy and community negotiations in handling such issues of global magnitude.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Ritual, tourism and sensorial dimension among the Catholic Gaudde in Goa, India

Author: Cláudia Pereira (ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon)  email

Short Abstract

Dances and songs with Hindu and Catholic references are performed by the Catholic Gaudde, a caste from Goa, in their religious rituals, transformed, nowadays, into an object of folklore to be consumed by tourists. The aesthetical dimension of their sound and visual performances is still to be explored.

Long Abstract

This paper will focus on the Catholic Gaudde of a village in South Goa, on the basis of the year's fieldwork that I carried out there in 2006-7. Converted to Catholicism during the Portuguese administration, the Gaudde challenged the colonial power and continued to perform in secret the rituals prior to conversion with Hindu references, till presently. These rituals performed jointly with songs and dances have been creatively recreated and are both performed in the village, far away from other Catholic castes, and in touristic places, to foreigners.

The sensorial and aesthetical dimension of their songs and dances highlight the connection between religion, rituals and tourism. On the one hand, in the village, the aesthetics of the ritual's place acquires ritual meaning together with the body experience shared by women while dancing collectively - reinforcing their ties through the individual bodies. The arrangement of the objects, the space's combination of Nature and sacred symbols, the colours highlighting women's movements, the intense sound of musical instruments played by men and their voices - all emphasise the non-verbal dimension of the ritual. On the other hand, during touristic performances the aesthetical references change, the songs and clothes become standardized, offering an object of art that seems exotic to foreign audience. To these spectators it is their art that enables the contact with the Other through the senses and emotions provoked by their performance's images, voices and sounds.

The role of improvisation in the success of a textile based public engagement project

Author: Lynn Setterington (Manchester Metropolitan University)  email

Short Abstract

Based on a public engagement project to create a wedding quilt for Prince William and Kate Middleton in the spring of 2011; this study looks at the way implicit improvisation was employed in this artist led initiative.

Long Abstract

Based on a public engagement project to create a wedding quilt for Prince William and Kate Middleton in the spring of 2011; this study looks at the way implicit improvisation was employed this artist led initiative. The means of production and subject matter (hand embroidered signatures) evoke questions surrounding identity and slow engagement. Thus the future of craft based initiatives in helping to empower and unite disparate groups is also discussed.

The collaboration, which took place in Blackpool in the north west of England is cited as a case study providing evidence of the heuristic methodologies utilised. The vagaries and protocols implicit in community collaborations are debated, along with the importance of tacit understanding and trial and error in such undertakings.

The article is a visual journey using key images from the project to highlight and advocate the need for improvisation in textile based craft collaborations.

Consuming 'Nature': Cultural Tourism in the Mountains of Central Spain.

Author: William Kavanagh (CEU San Pablo University, Madrid)  email

Short Abstract

The commoditisation of 'nature' as a cultural object has implications for community identity. Declaring the Gredos Mountains in Spain a 'park' has brought a sharp increase in a market-oriented tourism which has altered the relation of the villagers to their physical place and cultural space.

Long Abstract

The Gredos mountain range in central Spain (Sierra de Gredos in Spanish), which includes both alpine and Mediterranean ecosystems, is one of the most biologically interesting areas of Western Europe and one of the most physically attractive zones of the Iberian Peninsula. In 1996 the political decision was taken to declare the area a park. Since then the publicity given to the new status of the region has resulted in a significant rise in market-oriented tourism and the area has become the summer and weekend playground of an ever-increasing number of urban spaniards and foreign visitors in search of experiential tourism and rural tourism. The relationship between the locals and the outsiders and that between the locals and the tourist entrepreneurs have evolved from the original clashes between the host populations and touristic interests to the present-day negotiated dynamic where identities, 'place' and 'space' have all undergone a process of reinterpretation by the local communities.

The Symbolic Appropriation of Privately owned Nature Landscapes

Author: Hogne Øian (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores how inhabitants of some rural communities of Norway, as a response to recent developments within angling and hunting tourism, engage in efforts of symbolic appropriation of privately and collectively owned nature landscapes.

Long Abstract

The sparsely populated rural communities of Norway are, like in most european countries, characterized by the declining economic significance of agriculture. This has encouraged farmers to look elsewhere for income sources. Most farmers own considerable areas of uncultivated land, consisting of forested and mountainous areas that are rich with game and fish. Quite a few have subsequently turned to the booming globalized market of angling and hunting tourism. In spite of a fairly recent transformation from representing substantial contributions to local household economies into popular recreation activities, angling and hunting continue to be vital elements in local forms of sociality and identities. In addition, the inhabitants are strongly attached to the landscapes that include the hunting grounds and angling rivers designed for national and foreign tourists. While the rights to hunt and angle are tied to private ownership of land, lakes and rivers, few question the legitimacy of it as long as these rights can be easily rented. Still, many rural inhabitants resent a process that is perceived as the making of the nature landscapes surrounding their hamlets into globalized commodities. Both at the level of intersubjective experience, and in social and political discourses of identities, local inhabitants engage in processes where some aspects of the landscapes tend to be given status like inalienable possessions of the community. The outlined situation will be discussed by looking into possible relations between aesthetics of nature and identities, and by drawing on theories of property relations and forms of appropriations.

Culture as Tourism Product : State Policy and Identity Politics in Nagaland of North East India

Author: Soumendra Patnaik (University of Delhi)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores the making of state policy on Tourism and its implications for new identity construction in Nagaland.

Long Abstract

Located on the international border of China, Myanmar and India, the history of tourism in Nagaland is marked with shifting state policies in response to cultural, economic and political dynamics of community participation. Commodification of culture for attracting tourists both domestic and international creating a ambivalent subjectivity regarding its sustainability. Existing hierarchies are being reshaped in the light of demand for the "traditional" and "authentic" culture objects and performances leading to identity politics. The paper explores the continuous process of self discovery that engages community attention in the newly created touristic spaces having contested symbolic and political representations of various tribes.

A Sensual Delight in Eating: Exploring the Aesthetics, Ethics and Politics of Culinary Tourism in Assam

Author: Mini Bhattacharyya Thakur (Gauhati University)  email

Short Abstract

Food and cuisine are important ingredients of a society's cultural heritage and a valuable identity marker. Culinary tourism, which is a recent phenomenon in Assam has promoted a sense of unity among the diverse ethnic people of Assam leading to a transition of Assamese culinary ethics and values.

Long Abstract

An outcome of the political and social effort by the government, mass media and tourism industry is culinary tourism which has emerged as an important phenomenon in Assam. Food and cuisine are important ingredients of a society's cultural heritage and valuable identity markers. Traditional food and snacks have got a new lease of life through the promotion of food consumption culture among foreign and domestic tourist leading to a boost to ethnic and rural tourism and the growth of economy. Portraying Assam and the north eastern region as unique in terms of its ethnic diversity and a dietary culture, is a conscious effort to position the regional unity in the face of its past colonial experience of disjointed identities. In addition, socio-cultural transition of the Assamese culture, its changing ethical and culinary values are perceptible in the changing paradigm of globalization. Assamese food or any ethnic food per se cannot be understood as simply an array of food but involves complexities and rules of social conduct and ethics.This paper discusses the emergence of a culinary culture in Assam and the changing image of Assamese food and identity in the face of a tourism culture.

Rural Artists' Encounter with Anthropologists and Corporate Professionals

Authors: Avijit Chakravarti (Niilm Centre for Management Studies)  email
Tamsin Bradley (University of Portsmouth)  email
Jane Rowan (London Metropolitan University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores the relationship between those involved in art livelihood projects, business professionals and anthropologists . It contextualises 'art as livelihood' within the tourism industry and development process for social upliftment.

Long Abstract

This paper explores the ways in which traditional forms of art are used as vehicles to secure sustainable livelihoods. The paper will explore the relationships between those involved in art livelihood projects, specifically between the business professionals focused on income generation through tourism products, the anthropologists who seek to understand the importance of art for individuals and communities and the artists themselves. This paper contextualises 'art as livelihood' within the current drive in development towards social enterprise as a means of lifting people out of poverty. The research focuses on art livelihood projects working with communities in rural West Bengal and asks key questions. How can art forms be transformed into effective social enterprises that include not only the artist but their entire communities? Is it realistic to assume those successful in their art will wish to put money back into the infrastructure of their communities? Are some art forms more highly regarded than others? To what extent have traditional forms of art changed in line with consumer and touristic expectations?

The Aesthetics and Politics of Cultural Tourism in Iran

Author: Ladan Ghahramani  email

Short Abstract

This paper argues that the manner in which cultural tourism is being promoted by identifying market for the artifacts, heritage monuments, prehistoric sites and the local festivals is rooted in the distinction between 'domestic' and 'external' tourists.

Long Abstract

This paper argues that the manner in which cultural tourism is being promoted by identifying market for the artifacts, heritage monuments, prehistoric sites and the local festivals is rooted in the distinction between 'domestic' and 'external' tourists especially the way it contributes to national identity and citizenship in Iran.

A country marked with political upheavals in recent past is still negotiating with the problem of representation of its identity through the consumption of different cultural products in local and global markets.

The tourism policy in Iran clearly reflects the different experiences that these categories of tourists undergo during their touristic journeys. While examining the role of various institutions and state agencies in shaping the touristic experiences, this paper also attempts to provide a comparison with Turkey, a neighboring country in the region

This Curio called Indian Miniature circa 2000

Author: Varunika Saraf (Jawaharlal Nehru University)  email

Short Abstract

The mass-produced copies of Indian court paintings now exclusively painted for the tourist market, seem as escapees from the realm of Indian art history. This paper examines the ways in which patrons got reconfigured as consumers and artists as producers.

Long Abstract

In the bazaars across India, as quintessential visual embodiments of courtly grandeur and as indexes of the craft skills one finds miniature paintings. These mass-produced copies of Indian court paintings now exclusively painted for the tourist market, at a glance, seem as escapees from the realm of Indian art history, that has managed to elude their temporal and contextual specificity. As detailed elucidations of jewellery and costumes, processions and grand durbars, riders and cavalry, illustrations of literary classics, gods and goddesses, mythical animals, they vie with each other to catch the consumer's attention. In a span of few shelves, the viewer becomes a rambler, traversing different epochs, from Mughal India to Company period, in defiance of both time and space.

These paintings are variously perceived as: 'authentic', part of a 'great tradition', passed down from generation to generation, of the land, exemplifying 'grandeur and history'. The ambivalent position of such paintings made today by artists in the traditional mould raise important questions. Are these works residues from history; knowledge once lost and now found? Are they products of post-colonial revival?

This paper examines how tourists have taken over the role of traditional patrons and how various styles of painting that were once enmeshed in the royal courts have found new lease of life as heritage commodities. By treating art-world of the miniature painting as complex sphere, I explore the ways in which patrons got reconfigured as consumers and artists as producers, embedded in a relatively anonymous souvenir market.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.