tourism & cultural anthropology
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increasing tourism in so called ecologically and culturally unspoiled
areas has become a profitable subject of anthropological research. It
offers worthwhile critiques of western societies and different groups
which enjoy various ways of intercultural contacts while travelling and
choosing certain destinations. Travelling
in its various manifestations became an impressive pattern through which
we encounter other cultures and our own. Though
individual tourism denies the dimension of masstourism it became its
multiplier. The visited people again are involved in very dynamic
changes being asked to adapt to new ways of being.
contact between these culturally diverse approaches to life enlighten us
about other cultural possibilities supporting an awareness that we represent
merely one approach out of many.
involves situating travelling in a particular context where different
social and cultural groups and individuals act.
involves the creation of a framework of these groups and to interpret the
framework within a specific code of meaning. Believing that culture is the
creation of symbolic meaning and that these meanings differ even among the
individuals involved in a single cultural exchange (such as a
communication between visitors and visited people in a village) then there
can be, to recall edward sapir¹s phrase, "as many cultures as there
are individuals in a population."
local communities want to be involved?
fieldwork and research on the island of S.te Marie, Madagascar i compared
the potential of small community tourism with luxury tourism by means of
qualitative and quantative research.
defined various groups and representatives of economical interests
involved in the researched area which embody different socio-economical
imperatives and cultural values. Interviews with representatives and
sudden contacts provided me with an growing insight into local reality.
very typical way of moving and reacting slowly called mora-mora (probably
imported by pacific traders who settled down on madagascar´s east coast)
reflects not only a specific tranquility but also a way of handling things.
Repairing a car or building a house f.i. sometimes follows a strange way
like starting to repair tools and therefore getting missing parts and so
on. This process may sound absurd to western rationality but is an
integral part of everyday life creating the most with what is available.
the other side various elements of tourism on Ste. Marie, only installed
two decades ago, offer proof that a cultural regime for authentication -
with all its implications from eating habits to all kind of consumption
and imported products can be a decisive force which creates changes
or what appadurai calls a turnstile-function (appadurai,
cambridge 1986). Do local people consume to participate in an authentic
Gregory Batesons theory that living systems are looking to optimize its
variables (homöostasis) and
not to maximize them gives a reasonable explication for local
socio-economical behaviour. I observed an "ethic of optima" as
being growlingly supressed by an "ethic of massima" starting
already from early contacts with colonalization.
feedback of quantative reckoning though the difficulties of creating
infrastructure and economical behaviour is systemicly positive as it
prevents excessive exploitation by neoliberal market doctrine.
Maximazation and instrumentalization of human and natural ressources find
on Ste. Marie direct limits which leave future options for more
sustainable intervention open.
The creation of a standardized and homogenized touristic offer is rejected and gives space for touristic models dealing sucessfully with specific cultural patterns. Certain realities are slowing down a touristic opening but in a long term also help to protect from rapid harmfull changes.
How can community based tourism on the island of S.te Marie be improved?
following observations are based on the fact that in various areas of
madagascar projects are imposed from the outside - motivated by the
pursuit of rapid economic growth - often override local needs,
socio-cultural conditions and cultural costs. Therefore one of the central
questions of my research implied how the needs and aspirations of local
people can be taken better into account
a local development strategy which takes loacl needs into account is
absolutly essential, especcially in disadvantaged areas: local involvement
is crucial to appropriate development which meets the needs of local
people and safeguards their natural and cultural environment
activities like the Natural Resources Management of the WWF in various
areas of Madagascar can safeguard employment in disadvantaged areas
allowing partnerships between business (ppt), local government, volontary
and community groups and foster greater understanding of local conditions,
ways of problemsolving and mobilising and administering resources
local involvement makes a community more supportive, confident and
productive, with a sense of pride and commitment to the future. positve
synergies can be spelled only be creating a wide cooperation between
private outside investors and local decisionmakers
carefully developed tourism can provide real economic, environmental and
cultural benefits to the community - in turn, genuine community
involvement can enrich the tourism experience and product
when a community is involved in the direction of tourism development it is
more likely to become an active partner and to provide checks and balances
since it has a particular stake in the region and commitment to
environmental quality. There is a positive didactic between the long-term
viability and the involvement of the local community
local involvement means more than employment the usal low-paid, seasonal
menial and service jobs, such as waiters, chambermaids and gardeners.
General access to qualified jobs can be supported by offering educational
programms, training and formation in the promotion of home-based b&b
acommodation, farmhouse holidays ect. to the local community
ownership by a local elite does not ensure the equitable distribution of
benefits or environmental accountability. Certain regions of S.te Marie
give prove that foreign investments do not „trickle down“ to all
levels of society. Careful examination shows that local identity is an
important issue for the sharing of new income. Empowerment means
here to create a frame („roundtable“) where all concerned groups are
represented and help marginalised groups to articulate an opinion. It
means to enhance crosscultural cooperation, win-win approaches and
improvement of local identity in order to compete with changing tasks of
an emerging society
attention though must to be drawn to the fact that environmental
change is closely related to the interplay of various political and
economic interests, from the conservation-oriented politics of
foreign donors to the livelihood interests of rural farmers. A close
rapport between city-based officials and the local population is essential
to successful implementing
the creation of natural reserves gives the choice of disruption and
displacement or integrating local communities by enhancing a wide range of
local enterprises, services and activities. As a result it can prevent the
adverse consequences of rapid uncontrolled ventures. The involvement of
local people in small scale projects can better prevent conflicts that
affect cultural understanding and give support to multi-cultural education
the creation of natural reserves combined with small scale accomodation
and local involvement can contribute significantly to raising living
standards. They can form a complementary frame to the demand of mass
tourism and give an enriching alternative to the mass market.
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|updated: octobre 2011||contact me|