Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

(Un)doing Tourism Anthropology: Outline of a Field of Practice

Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

(Un)doing Tourism Anthropology: Outline of a Field of Practice

Article excerpt

Introduction

If the customary predilection for prefixing academic fields of study with the terms 'the anthropology of can be likened to the movie industry penchant for the lucrative film series franchise (something along the lines of 'Carry on Follow that Tourist' or 'National Lampoon's Ethnographic Vacation'), then calls for the development of an 'anthropology of the anthropology of tourism' would risk embracing the kind of reflexive and self regarding insularity that even the most indulgent of Hollywood producers would feel compelled to draw the line at. The resultant induction loop would surely drown out all but the murmur and clamour of its own terminal self absorption. By introducing such a preposterous idea at the outset of this discussion, our intention is not to advocate any such slide into disciplinary self-reflexion, nor is it to suggest that, given the multidisciplinary terrain tourism scholars and others increasingly inhabit, the 'anthropology of ...' model of intellectual taxonomy has not long exceeded its sell-by date. For these introductory purposes our altogether more oblique objective is to invite considerations as to whether, by focusing critical spotlight on the doing of tourism anthropology, the disciplinary field that constitutes what is understood

as 'the anthropology of tourism' has become increasingly difficult to navigate as a clearly delineated focus of study (Leite & Graburn, 2009, p.35).

In the process of fleshing out what it is that the doing of tourism anthropology necessarily entails comes the question of how anthropological perspectives on the subject relate to those developed as part of other disciplinary frameworks, and how these in turn have drawn on, 'filleted' (Paul Gilroy, in Smith, 1999, p.21), side-stepped, appropriated, misappropriated, translated, or aggregated those ideas and practices that are seen as emblematic of specifically anthropological approaches to the study of tourism. At the same time, critical reflection on the doing of tourism anthropology brings into focus the epistemological tenability of the object of study itself: that of tourists and tourism, insofar as the latter is recognised as encompassing a wider and considerably more complex social domain than that otherwise particular to 'the tourist'. This brings with it the question of how far it is possible (or desirable) to hive off that portion of a person's or group's being-in-the-world--the complex habitations, subjectivities, identities, embodiments, habitus, social relations, mobilities, and everyday practices that are part of the rich pick 'n' mix of routine anthropological enquiry--that speak to the much narrower frames of reference otherwise demanded (and instilled) by an analytical focus on 'tourism'? In other words, to what extent--and where--is it possible to draw a dividing line between the 'anthropology of tourism' and anthropological frameworks of analysis, theory, and debate more generally? How useful or critically sustainable is the subject of 'the tourist'? Given the hugely divergent and proliferating practices that are subsumed under the increasingly capacious category of 'tourism', how might we begin to sketch an even rudimentary outline of a 'field of practice': a disciplinary space equipped to accommodate the cross-currents, habitues, or dissonant narratives that stake out the parameters of an anthropological discourse that cannot be readily reduced down to the particularities of tourists and tourism?

Accordingly, the editorial focus on observable trends in the anthropology of tourism to which this paper responds is both timely and problematic. Timely in that, as our foregoing discussion has intimated, what exactly the discipline or sub-discipline of tourism anthropology extends to in terms of its disciplinary, methodological and theoretical reach has become increasingly unclear as the parameters of both discipline (anthropology) and subject matter (tourism) have become ever more amorphous and multi-sited. …

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.