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Anthropology in the World

British Museum, London, UK; 8th - 10th June 2012


Anthropology and tourism

Location BP Lecture Theatre
Date and Start Time 09 June, 2012 at 09:30


Hazel Andrews (LJMU) email
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Short Abstract

This panel assesses the contribution of anthropology to understandings of tourism. The panel considers key areas of social life including culture, identity, development and social relations within the context of 'host-guest' relationships and the interface between industry and touristic practices.

Long Abstract

Anthropology has been at the forefront of enquiry into tourism since the subject first entered the academic arena. Classic texts such as Smith's Hosts and Guests helped to shape the research agenda. What the papers in that particular book did was to extend the reach of existing anthropological enquiry by considering, within the context of leisured/pleasure travel, the complexities of human culture. As tourism developed and develops so did and does the scope of anthropological work in this area. Tourism is a lens on the social world and as such the focus of enquiry is necessarily broad incorporating: issues of cultural practices, representations in both material and non-material forms, power relations, constructions of identity, economic development and so forth. At the same time tourism is also a collection of industries. As such this panel invites papers from any area of the anthropology of tourism that addresses issues of touristic practice, tourism development, 'host-guest' relationships and encounters, representations of peoples and places, local voices, tourism industry practices and relations . The panel also welcomes papers that focus on the practice of ethnographic research in tourism studies.

Chair: Tom Selwyn

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Turning smuggling into heritage: border tourism as a cultural challenge

Author: Aitzpea Leizaola (University of the Basque Country)  email

Short Abstract

Drawing from a multi-situated long term fieldwork in the Basque borderland, this paper addresses recent evolutions of border tourism, from shopping to the consumption of culture.

Long Abstract

The border between France and Spain is considered one of the oldest unchanged borders in Europe. It has also been an exceptional witness of the development of border tourism. The border is where stereotypes of the Other materialize: travel literature first and romanticism later portrayed the border as the gate to an exotized Spain by European writers and travellers alike. In the construction of such an image, the smuggler emerged as a key literary figure, whereas smuggling became a major economic activity in the border area. All through the 20th century, smuggling became one of the economic motors in the borderland area.

Indirectly related with this development, border tourism has become at the turn of the century a major economic activity in the area, with the development of huge shopping malls along the border in the middle of the mountains. Together with this highly visible economic development, an interest process of patrimonialisation is taking place at the border: considered a significant part of local heritage, smuggling has been turned into a tourism attraction more directed towards cultural tourism than towards purely shopping oriented border tourism. As such, smuggling tracks and activities have been made visible, turning them into identity markers and tourist oriented consumption products.

The ethnic tourism in China's minority region: is the commodification of the Naxi's Dongba culture reconstructing the tradition in a positive way?

Author: Zheng Xie  email

Short Abstract

The paper examines how a Chinese minority group, the Naxi, living in Lijiang, Yunnan Province, are encountered with the radically developed tourism business in the past decade, presenting themselves to the millions of domestic tourists with their traditional culture in an attempt to optimise their socioeconomic achievements. The tourism industry has indeed assisted the revitalisation of the culture, though its negative impact has been far from careful assessment.

Long Abstract

For centuries, many of the Naxi living in the mountain area have been practising a religious custom called 'dongba' religion. Although it was banned for half a century by the central government since 1960s, it is revitalising by the Naxi farmers and social elites who both embrace it as their new ethnic icon in front of other Han Chinese tourists. The involvement of tourism in this rehabilitation plays a significant role in reshaping the religion in several aspects. In the first place, by luring many young dongba working in urban areas to entertain tourists, the tourism industry is weakening the traditional bonds between the religious practitioners and their serving communities. Secondly, modern school learning, partially sponsored by tourism capital is replacing the traditional master-disciple relationship, putting pressure on the quality of the religion study. Thirdly, the intercommunication between the younger generation of dongba, across many regions, has been expanded unprecedentedly, which will profoundly influence the future development of the practice. Last but not least, the modern leisure-concerned social medium, i.e. TV dramas, the Internet blogs and newspapers, has bombarded many young domestic tourists travelling to Lijiang with some commercialised selective images of the Naxi group, interpreting the peculiar incident of 'love suicide', that some of young Naxi used to practiced more than half a century ago, into a 'romantic' or 'seeking for true love' scenario, showing no concern for its ambiguous social and religious background.

The tourismization of Ilha Grande

Author: Teresa Mendonça (University Federal Rural of Rio de Janeiro)  email

Short Abstract

The trajectory of tourism and its representations in Ilha Grande (Brazil) have taken me to insert the term “tourismization” of places, understanding tourism as a guiding axis of the relationships instituted in places, constituting a system of values which marks the manner of local living.

Long Abstract

Upon analysis of the trajectory of tourism and its representations in Ilha Grande (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), I verified that Ilha went through what Knafou called the subversive power of tourism. Thus the term "tourismization" of places try to understand tourism as a social-cultural phenomenon in which it is considered a guiding axis of the relationships instituted in places, constituting a system of values which marks the manner of local living. From an anthropological point of view, while the idea of "tourisfication" takes physical space as an element of intervention and appropriation for tourism, "tourismization" has the symbolic space - of relationships, of representations, of significance, identitary and historical - as an appropriate element for tourism. The "tourismization" is a historical process of construction of phenomenon associated to a process of interiorization of the different facets of tourism by groups and by persons, which has influence on relationships and ways of living of a determined place. The term "tourismization" is formulated inspired by Norbert Elias with reference to the civilizing process. In this way, the "tourismization" of Ilha Grande is related to a process which transforms the daily behavior of persons at work or at leisure, dictates new rules, new etiquettes to be followed; molds behavior with reference to the new local configurations which are established. However, it should be recognized that this process can be considered as a local manifestation of "tourismization" at the global level, an example of the "indigenization" referred to by Sahlins.

Tourism development and ownership conflicts in Fuerteventura (Canary Islands, Spain)

Authors: Pablo Díaz (Complutense University of Madrid)  email
Alberto Jonay Rodríguez Darias  email
Agustín Santana (Universidad De La Laguna, Tenerife)  email

Short Abstract

This proposal focuses on conflicts of appropriation like a form of sociocultural and economic effect of tourism in coastal areas of Fuerteventura (Canary Islands, Spain). An island that has experienced significant tourists increased as well as population (173 and 568 per cent respectively) between 1970 and 2010.

Long Abstract

The growth in tourist numbers that the island of Fuerteventura (Canary Islands, Spain) has experienced in recent decades has led to major transformations. Between 1970 and 2010, the number of tourists increased almost 173 per cent (reaching a total of 1,467,040). This evolution was accompanied by migratory flows that contributed to the resident population of the island increasing from 18,192 to 103,492 inhabitants over the same period. There are many transformations associated with this development (relating to employment, productive activities, territory uses, environmental aspects, demand for resources...).

Among the set of effects attributable to tourism development on the island, we focus on conflicts of appropriation in coastal areas. From a sample of the three major stakeholder groups (local people, immigrants and tourists), this proponsal explains the most relevant differences regarding their perceptions and use of the coastal areas through a methodological approach that contrasts qualitative (participant observation and in-depth interviews) and quantitative techniques (a survey of a total sample of 2,611 individuals, distinguishing between tourists, locals and immigrants).

The results of the aforementioned analysis were compared with the nature of the major public and private actions along the coastline, showing clearly that the infrastructure developed is aimed at enhancing the way it is perceived and used by tourists, facilitating the effective appropriation of the coastal environment by this group of agents. Consequently, the local population's activities have been displaced to environments less conducive to the development of tourism or to certain interstices in the spaces created for tourist use.

Hosts, guests and tourist arts on a sacred journey: contributions of Valene Smith and Nelson Graburn to the anthropology of tourism

Author: Margaret Swain (University of California, Davis)  email

Short Abstract

In the 1970s Valene Smith and Nelson Graburn collaboratively conjured up an anthropology of tourism, inspiring inquiry to this day. Combining shared interests with distinct empirical and theoretical models of relations and motives in tourism, they challenge all tourism researchers to a cosmopolitan balance of rights and multiculturalism.

Long Abstract

Arguably the1970's California Dreamin' Mamma & Papa of the Anthropology of Tourism, Valene Smith and Nelson Graburn collaboratively conjured up an anthropology of tourism with colleagues and students. Their imaginations have inspired generations of inquiry to the present day. Combining shared interests in travel as tourists and ethnographers, and in the Inuit, with distinct empirical and theoretical models of relations and motives in tourism, they challenge all tourism researchers to a cosmopolitan balance of rights and multiculturalism. My paper considers how Smith's Hosts and Guests, with Graburn's chapter on Tourism: The Sacred Journey, along with his book Ethnic and Tourist Arts set the bar early-on for decades to follow. We can see them both actively creating understandings of tourism within anthropology that embrace commonality and difference- asking why and how in their divergent bodies of work over time. Many thousands of academics have traveled with Valene and Nelson, engaging their synergy of Valene's hosts and guests with Nelson's aesthetics and ritual, unpacking the "Tourist" in tourism scholars, and the belief that tourism is a fundamental subject for critical anthropological inquiry.

How "natives" think: about tourists for example

Author: Tamas Regi (Keimyung University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses how members of an African pastoral society physically and socially encompass Western tourists in their everyday life. Instead of the well-known commodification theory, the paper aims to offer a new conceptual frame for understanding tourism encounters in non-Western societies.

Long Abstract

Under this rather provocative title my presentation takes an old concept of anthropology and uses it to call attention for the deep ethnographic "thick description" of local understandings of tourists in contemporary, small scale African societies. The paper discusses some of my observations I have made during my fieldwork among the Mursi in the Lower Omo Valley in South-western Ethiopia, and develops an argument on different strategies that local people applied in order to encompass the cultural Other.

During my fieldwork I witnessed how the Mursi established model settlements, created "fake" hospitality spaces where they encountered their Western visitors. In these reproductions (mimics, staging) of 'real' Mursi sociality local people imitated daily routines (working activities, cooking) and dressed up as "wild savages" for the sake of their guests. The encounters were tense and uneasy and I documented not only evolving hospitality practices but also the tactics (mimicry of wildness, pretended hostility etc.) that local individuals used for reassuring their own personhood (everything which I am not) through the contact with the Other.

However, the way local people made sense of Western strangers was not always clear in the immediate moment of the encounter. The complete understanding of the local meaning of Western strangers required the conceptualization of how the Mursi assimilate the Other in their everyday life. In this paper I describe the tactics of physical and social incorporation the Mursi apply in order to achieve the neutralisation of (political, economic, cultural etc.) power of Western strangers.

Beyond cannibalism: encompassing tourists and other strangers in South Western Madagascar

Author: David Picard (University of Lausanne)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores practices of hospitality, incorporation and encompassment among coastal fishing populations in South Western Madagascar. The author will argue that contact between different social entities does here not – or not necessarily – lead to the nullifying of ontological difference, but to the preservation and maintenance of difference.

Long Abstract

The paper explores practices of hospitality, incorporation and encompassment among coastal fishing populations in South Western Madagascar. The author will argue that contact between different social entities does here not - or not necessarily - lead to the nullifying of ontological difference (as a means to contain and "dissolve" alieness into a homogenizing Self, as suggested by the metaphor of cannibalistic assimilation by Claude Levi-Strauss and others), but to the preservation and maintenance of difference, the encompassment of the "magic" of ontological otherness, which is a means to empower Self politically, socially and symbolically.

Magic in this sense relates to an ontological separation between Self and Other, and to practices to create sympathetic relations by means of ritualised evocation (metaphor, mimesis, representation, spells, bewitchment) and/or contact (metonym, contagion, travel, hospitality, inhabitation) with Other. Ontological difference is considered here a social construct by means of which social actors, through embodied practice and rhetoric performance, delineate Other from Self.

Through the study of the accommodation of tourists and other strangers, the author suggests that symbolic cannibalism, as a popular trope for cultural consumption in the cultural studies, militant social sciences and also the popular media, is not a good concept to describe touristic contact zones. Instead he will suggest the concept of 'encompassment' of the Other, which had earlier been used by Edward LiPuma and Michael Jackson and which allows us to think about tourist contact zones without assuming that contact leads to the ontological assimilation of Other.

Identity and belonging among tourists and fishermen at Atafona's beach in Brazil

Author: Maria Cláudia Pitrez (State University of Rio de Janeiro)  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses the interaction between fishermen and tourists at the Atafona's beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. By considering the ambiguous status of the “vacationer”, who has a simultaneous condition of host and guest, the paper seeks to reveal interesting situations to consider notions such as identity and belonging in the anthropology of tourism.

Long Abstract

This paper discusses the notions of identity and belonging taking into account the relationship between tourists and fishermen at Atafona, a beach situated in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Unlike other Brazilian beaches, the type of tourism in Atafona is the "second residence" one, where the "summer time" deconstructs differences between "hosts and guests" (Smith, 1989). The regular attendance of tourists during the summer is quite old and coexists with the presence of fishermen, which attaches great importance to both groups in the process of the construction of the town. In this sense, the discussion of the local identity considering this type of tourism - the veraneo (Caletrío, 2011) - alerts us about the relevance to see the tourism as a cultural phenomenon in which the borders are undefined and have constant motion.

Retiring in the midst of a tourist industry: everyday experiences of fantasy and reality in Bali.

Author: Paul Green (University of Melbourne )  email

Short Abstract

Based on fieldwork in Sanur and Ubud this presentation explores the everyday experiences of retirees living in Bali, highlighting the tensions that exist between the 'fantasy' and 'reality' of everyday life in the midst of health concerns and an ever evolving tourist industry.

Long Abstract

Anthropologists, artists and film makers have long been drawn to the cultural and touristic landscapes of Bali. Increasing numbers of foreign nationals are now settling on the island, transforming host-guest relationships and the meaning of 'local voices' in the context of an ever evolving tourism industry. Based on recent fieldwork in Sanur and Ubud, this presentation provides specific insights into the everyday experiences, relationships and concerns of retirees living in Bali. On one level, this paper highlights the fluid and contested nature of the term 'retirement,' as residents of various age groups draw on a range of symbolic, material and politically-inspired resources to engage with and yet transcend normative frameworks of a supposed post-work life and lifestyle. As I suggest in this paper, what unites fortysomething and eightysomething 'retirees' is a view that retirement represents both a process of withdrawal from a place and not a workplace in 'the West' and reinvention in a supposedly idyllic setting. On a second level this paper highlights the extent to which these residents engage with this 'fantasy' of living in a home with views of rice fields and sacred mountains and the 'reality' of everyday life, motorcycle accidents and poor health care provision in Indonesia. In particular, this paper draws on the everyday relationship between these new hosts in Bali and their life in the midst of an over developed and developing tourist industry that threatens to literally compromise their view and views of a paradise they sometimes call home.

Her own way: gender, tourism and transnationality in Brazil

Author: Fernanda Antonioli (State University of Campinas/UNICAMP)  email

Short Abstract

This paper introduces an investigation on the presence of foreign women traveling in Brazil, especially alone or without male counterparts, in a context of leisure and beach tourism, drawing up my ethnographic work at the village of Trancoso-BA.

Long Abstract

In this paper I will present my ethnographic work turning to the changes of international tourism in Trancoso-BA and its landscapes, to the biographies and experiences of female foreign tourists as well as present local perceptions about them. This investigation's questions derive from the development of an international tourism market targeted toward women, the rise of international tourism in Brazil and a significant number of subjects with negative connotation on foreign tourists published in the national media (facts dating to the early 2000s). Examining the expressions and representations in terms of femininity, masculinity, embodiment, "ethnicity" and nationality that permeate and surround the tours of these women in Brazil, I articulate the ethnographic observations and interviews taking into account the ways in which tourism practices affect the host society's economy, culture, landscapes, as well as the "traveling cultures". And, specially, how the circulation of differences in terms of gender, cultural capital, income, race, color, nationality, age and sexuality, whether strenghtens or shakes sociocultural conventions, enhances or changes the political economy of cosmopolitan movements such as in tourism.

Practices of the tourism industry at Madeira Island: an ethnography of hiking trails

Author: Filipa Fernandes (CAPP/ School of Political and Social Sciences - University of Lisbon)  email

Short Abstract

This paper addresses the understandings of touristic processes and practices in Madeira Island related to hiking trails.

Long Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to analyze tourism industry practices regarding hiking trails along water cannals known as levadas. This heritage element is simultaneously used by different tourism, recreation and peasant user groups in Madeira Island. They are the regional cultural symbol, a space of consumption and cultural fruition by tourists who go through to gaze natural and cultural heritage. The majority of these water canals are located in Madeira Nature Park, which also includes the Laurel Forest (World Heritage by UNESCO).

Based on a PhD fieldwork in tourism and anthropology this paper seeks to analyze the relations between the diverse actors of the regional tourist system and present an ethnographic study of the touristic offer, developed through the combination of policies, plans and actions for the promotion of various products on the market, operated by diverse structures: public (involving the regional government structures), and private (involves the tourism companies, accommodation, and intermediaries, namely, travel agencies).

''We are travellers, they are tourists'': from the point of view of Greeks travelling abroad

Author: Evangelia-Antonia Samara  email

Short Abstract

Tourists are always some ‘‘others’’ not ‘‘we’’, “we are travellers”. This distinction is activated at different levels in an attempt to locate “ourselves” (as travellers) through “others” (who are tourists). In order to substantiate this point, I shall discuss consumption models and other practices, among groups of Greeks travelling abroad.

Long Abstract

One aspect of the late modernity was the expansion of tourist activities among less wealthy groups of people. Most research held in Greece focused on the impact of mass tourism in Greek society. However, there is no ethnographic research on Greeks as tourists, despite the fact that the number of Greeks travelling abroad has been increased since the 80's. Until then, the Greek tourists were seen as distinct and privileged groups of people who enjoyed high status compared with those who had never left the country for leisure activities outside Greece.

In this paper, based on first hand material for my PhD thesis, I argue that this old distinction, between Greeks who travel and Greeks who do not, has been transformed to a different one: drawing mostly on activities of consumption the distinction is constructed between those who identify themselves as travellers and the 'others', the 'tourists'. This distinction is activated as a key concept of identification in more than one level. Those who travel independently call tourists those who travel in groups and they attribute to them tourist stereotypes, such as indifference for the host society, shallowness and conspicuous consumption. Nevertheless, people who travel in groups through agencies are also self-designated as travellers defining tourists those who behave as mere consumers having no cultural interests at all. Decisions concerning destination sites, shopping tastes and other cultural activities are called forth in their attempt to forge their own superiority in comparative and hierarchical terms and to create difference through similarity.

Nazaré - tourism and the invention of tradition

Author: José Trindade (Instituto Politécnico de Leiria)  email

Short Abstract

The main objective in this paper is to show how national and local elites collaborated in order to build the image of the fishing community of Nazaré to serve both as national icon in the process of nationbuilding, and local of tradition for the promotion of tourism and local identity against the forces of modernization.

Long Abstract

Nazare is a small town of nearly 10 000 inhabitants, on the Atlantic coast, a hundred kms to the north of Lisbon.

For more than a century, the fishing community has lived from tourism and fishing. The rhythm of the town has been determined by this reality, and the population has always organized their lives in order to take the most advantage of the opportunities created by these two economic activities.

Tourism has been, for this reason, not a disruptive activity of tradition, as it is usually seen, but a fundamental element that must be taken in to account when we consider the local culture, social organization and the economy of the town.

Considered the most picturesque fishing town of the Portuguese coast, Nazare played the role of important national icon; and its fishing community, seen as the authentic representatives of a nation proud of its past history as a land of sailors.

From the middle of the nineteenth century until the present, the fishing community was the object of the intellectual and political elite of Portugal. Celebrated by painters and writers by its unique humane and physical landscape, the local political leaders have always been very active in promoting this image in the country and abroad.

Documenting tourism in the Celtic periphery

Author: Michael Ireland (Plymouth University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper provides a unique ethnography of the documentary film making process in a community that has experienced transformation from a fishing village to tourist destination.

Long Abstract

This paper provides a unique ethnography of the documentary film making process in a community that has experienced transformation from a fishing village to tourist destination. The documentary film, 'The Last Place in England' shot in Sennen Cove, West Cornwall in the realist tradition, offers the audience, as potential tourists, a romantic vision of the cultural and natural landscape.

The film operates at a number of levels, drama documentary, destination promotion and ethnographic record. What is unusual about this is the way in which the anthropologist is able to study the film making process as it is experienced by the Producer and the production team, the host population and the subjects of the documentary.

The concern is less with the techniques used in filming, but with ethnographic value of the film. For example what does the documentary tell us about the Producer and his audience? It is argued that the documentary film maker is in fact a special category of tourist. The subjects of the documentary while rooted through strong ties of kinship to the host community are also marginal people acting as cultural brokers.

In documenting a community, which the Producer has described as 'almost hostile to the outside world' he provides an view of culture recognisable the wider tradition of ethnographic films as 'man vis nature'. The documentary that is screened is as result of painstaking negotiation that leads to a cultural product that tells us much about how tourist destinations are constructed and portrayed.

Local and tourist representations in the Danube Delta Romania

Author: Ioana Bursan (KU Leuven)  email

Short Abstract

In the C.A. Rosetti commune from Danube Delta Romania, tourism takes paradoxical forms. My purpose is to analyze tourist-locals encounters while considering tourist and self representation of the area. Tourism is perceived as a failure yet the only solution for a future.

Long Abstract

Despite a rich culturally complex history, social researchers have brought focus on the status of the marginal population living in the Danube Delta. The recent promotion of the Danube Delta takes interesting forms, attracting (different types of) tourists with poor living conditions of the inhabitants mixed with beautiful landscapes; all lost in a land of a "paradise" at "the end of the world". Danube Delta is a site of interwoven paradoxes, including the ways tourism evolves. I have started analyzing the media representation on deltaic communities and ways of self representation in C.A. Rosetti commune, the most isolated region of the Romanian part of the Danube Delta and one of the most ethnically mixed areas: Romanians, Ukraininans and Lipovans also known as 'old Russians" live in the commune. C.A. Rosetti commune is one of the least visited areas from Danube Delta. It represents at the same time a strong attraction point because of the famous "wild horses" roaming freely in the protected Letea forest. Still, tourists coming to see the forest and the sand dunes are usually accommodated in other villages of the Delta, outside C.A. Rosetti commune. My purpose is to explore and present the tourists representation in comparison with the self representation, in this area. After 20 years from the falling of the communist regime, people perceive tourism as the only chance for a future of deltaic communities.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

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