Accepted paper:

Disciplinary anthropology? Amateur ethnography and the invention of local 'heritage'


Matthew Hodges (University of Kent)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes projects from a coastal village in Mediterranean France that have borrowed discursive forms from anthropology, and historiography, in part to convert intangible local cultural heritages into disciplined archives and booklets with a view to their use in heritage tourism practices.

Paper long abstract:

'Amateur' anthropology and ethnography are categories proposed by anthropologists themselves (Grimshaw & Hart 1992), seeking to critique a perceived culture of 'professionalism' within the discipline. Yet they have arguably been practised extensively by individuals in rural communities oblivious to such academic debates. On the one hand, this has ostensibly occurred with a view to 'pastoral' conservation of records of 'local history', 'traditions' and 'customs', or empowerment of local identities. However, further objectives have been the 'disciplining' of the intangible cultural heritage (UNESCO 2003) of indigenous populations by entrepreneurial locals and incomers for use in heritage tourism. This paper analyzes several projects from a coastal village in Mediterranean France, that have 'borrowed' discursive forms from French ethnology, and historiography, to convert predominantly intangible local heritages into disciplined archives and booklets with a view to their utility in heritage tourism practices. From one perspective, incomers and entrepreneurial locals are emulating the living traditions of collectors of 'folk' customs, who contributed to the French ethnological tradition. The extent to which academic and 'amateur' are thus conjoined within French anthropology and recent heritage tourism is a further exploratory area of the paper. The paper will analyze how 'anthropological' investigations can reveal the character of such disciplinary programmes; the nature of their approximation to the discipline; and indeed the disciplinary character of anthropological research itself - such as my own - which has arguably contributed to, and been invoked in such disciplinary programmes.

panel P02
Imagineering the past: the (mis)uses of anthropology and archaeology in tourism