Accepted paper:

Recycling 'old' anthropology and archaeology in 'new' tourism


Noel B. Salazar (KU Leuven)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on multi-sited fieldwork, this paper analyzes how local tour guides utilize anthropology and archaeology. The prevalence of outdated ideas points to the lack of popularization of newer theorizing and begs the question of scholarly responsibility regarding the use of academic knowledge.

Paper long abstract:

The role of anthropology and archaeology in seeding tourism imaginaries - especially about remote destinations - goes beyond stereotypical Indiana Jones representations and is far more extensive than most scholars want to acknowledge. In this paper, I draw on ongoing ethnographic fieldwork in Indonesia and Tanzania to critically dissect the (mis)use of anthropology and archaeology in local tour guiding narratives and practices. A fine-grained analysis of tour guiding for both domestic and international visitors shows how outdated scholarly theories prevail in the widely circulating imaginaries of global tourism and how these conceptualisations are strategically (mis)used by local entrepreneurs to represent and sell places and peoples as 'authentic' travel destinations, untouched by extra-local influences. This, of course, is highly paradoxical because the phenomenon of tourism itself is a global force producing constant change and cultural hybridity. How do we deal with the fact that tourism stakeholders on various levels legitimize their representations of peoples as passive, bounded, and homogeneous entities by referring to old-fashioned scholarly theories, while the majority of academics have long accepted that these discourses and ideas do not reflect reality and often silence the voice of the powerless? Reflecting on these ethnographic findings, I advocate more attention of colleague anthropologists and archaeologists to the widespread (mis)use of scholarly productions outside academia and their real impact - whether beneficial or damaging - on people's daily lives. Taking up this ethical responsibility becomes even more pressing as knowledge in general has become key to the interconnected world in which most of us live.

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