Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

Telling the Story of African-Americans in Hattiesburg, Mississippi: A Case Study of Socially Sustainable Tourism?

Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

Telling the Story of African-Americans in Hattiesburg, Mississippi: A Case Study of Socially Sustainable Tourism?

Article excerpt

This case study from Hattiesburg, Mississippi focuses on recent efforts of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission to forge a partnership with city and state governments and African-American civic organizations with the goal of developing a local tourism industry that celebrates the racially diverse history of this community in the American South. Our research, conducted in 2012-13, relies on field observations and in-depth interviews with local stakeholders and is informed by recent literature on sustainable development and tourism. Our findings suggest this emergent tourism in Hattiesburg has achieved a degree of social sustainability--defined here in terms of its success in forging multi-racial partnerships and creating narratives of places that partly mitigate their conflictive histories. Financial sustainability--which we define as profitability--has proven more elusive and will likely be achieved only over the long term.

Este estadio de caso de Hattiesburg, Mississippi se centra en los recientes esfuerzos de la Comision del Convenio Hattiesburg para forjar una alianza con los gobiernos municipales y estatales y organizaciones civiles afroamericanas con el objetivo de desarrollar una industria taristica local que celebre la historia de diversidad racial de esta comunidad en el sur estadounidense. Nuestra inves tigacion, llevada a cabo en 2012-13, se basa en las observaciones de campo y entrevistas en profundidad con los actores locales y esta informada por la literatura reciente sobre el desarrollo sostenible y el turismo. Nuestros hallazgos sugieren que este turismo emergente en Hattiesburg ha alcanzado un grado de sastenibilidad social--definido aqui en terminos de su exito en forjar alianzas multirraciales y la creacion de narrativas de lugares que, en parte mitigan sus historias conflictivas. La sastenibilidad financiera--la cual definimos como la rentabilidad--ha resultado ser mas dificil de alcanzar y es probable que solo se logre en el largo plazo.

KEY WORDS: Sustainability, Tourism, Race, American South

PALABRAS CLAVE: sostenabilidad, turismo, raza, Sur estadounidense

INTRODUCTION

IS socially sustainable tourism achievable? Is it possible for a place to create a tourism industry that tells the stories of diverse social communities and distributes its benefits equitably among those same communities? Even more difficult, is it possible for a place to meet these social challenges while maintaining financial viability? In particular--just to make the challenge more daunting--is socially sustainable tourism possible in a city like Hattiesburg, Mississippi, located deep in the American South? Could Hattiesburg develop a sustainable tourism industry that acknowledges its own deep racial divides of the not-so-distant past, and even capitalizes on those divides--framed within narratives of post-civil-rights-era reconciliation--as genuine tourism assets?

This paper presents a case study of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission's efforts over the past five years to forge partnerships with city and state governments, as well as African-American civic organizations, with the goal of developing a local tourism industry that celebrates the racially diverse history of this South Mississippi community.

We begin by examining recent scholarly literature on sustainability and tourism to determine how this case study relates and contributes to academic and applied research on the role of tourism in development. We turn next to examine the City of Hattiesburg, its incipient tourism industry, and the local context in which its African American Military History Museum and Eureka School/Freedom Summer Museum came into being. The third section wrestles with our main research questions: to what extent can tourism accommodate the sometimes contradictory and conflictive stories of diverse social and racial communities; how successfully can it distribute its benefits across those communities; and can it do so while achieving financial sustainability? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.