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Anthropology and tourism, group 5

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    Cristina Opalca, Zuzanna Mazur and Carine Simon-Bellamy

    Wiki 3, Group 5


    Tourism and Anthropology



    Anthropology is the study of humanity that focuses on learning about different cultures. In anthropology researchers study the human experience and all the attributes that contribute to it (American Anthropology Association, 2016). During the 19th century different changes in society led to the beginning of anthropology as a study discipline (Holden, 2005). Including the economic and social changes that were happening during that time period, but also the enlargement of Europe had a major affect in the development of the subject. The increase of European colonies gave a learning platform for the researchers. Because of the new European colonies there was now new opportunities for the researchers to learn about the different cultures in these places (McLeish, 1993 cited in Holden, 2005). There was a distinguish difference between the western societies and the societies of the colonies that were not as industrially developed, this gave the anthropologists platform to work with.  Anthropologist sir James Frazier and Bromoslow Malinowski had a huge role in the development of social anthropology as a study discipline. Although, both of them contributed to the development, they had different ways of practising it. Frazier was keener in comparing different cultures closely together to research about the psychology of human being. On the other hand, there was Malinowski who wanted to showcase rudimental societies’ lifecycle.  Malinowski’s approach was to do the research in the actual places where the societies lived that were not that developed. It was important to be in contact with these societies and to study them from close for long periods of time. This particular approach which Malinowski used, was called ethnography (Holden, 2005).



    The particular methodology that Malinowski used in his approach to study social anthropology was ethnography. The approach is to learn and study the different cultures by simply being in close contact with them and preferably living next to the societies that are being researched. ‘Participant observation’ approach is for the anthropologist a tool to get to know the people in the society and study their culture by examining them when living there. The goal of ethnography is simply get to know the people that are living in different surroundings usually in under developed countries by living with them and experiencing everyday life. Furthermore, to understand the culture and way of life of the people this method is used for long periods of time. Anthropologists often study the cultures of the societies by living as a member of the society multiple years at a time (Holden, 2005). While living in the rudimental communities, anthropologists are suggested to become close with the people in personal way without any aid from third parties (Nash, 1996 cited in Holden, 2005). Living close to different societies with different living standard gives more depth to the research than studying the same culture from far. In applying field work in the actual places where the communities live, the researcher may develop different relationships with the people in the observation community, which can bring different dimension into the research (Holden, 2005)

    There are different methods that can be applied in ethnography to collect information about the cultures and there are new ones that are being introduced by different researchers. For example methods that have been used by anthropologists are interviews and conversation but also filming the people in societies is another way to research the cultural and social differences (Nash, 1996 cited in Holden, 2005)


    Authenticity and staged authenticity

    Tourism is mostly about the experience that arriving tourist has in the destination. In this process when the local culture and the culture of the person arriving meets. In this process, often the culture is turned into something economical and this can affect on the authenticity of offered tourism experience. The culture of tourists easily mends the local culture. As an example could be mentioned that there is a crocodile ritual performed by Iatmul people in New Guinea and the ritual normally lasts three days, but it has been cut in to 45 minutes just to please the tourists. This brings up the question of staged authenticity. Is the ritual anymore authentic if it has been reconstructed in purpose of staging it? (Holden, 2005)

     Staged authenticity includes physical products as well. Many locations produce copies and cheap versions of original cultural products as souvenirs for tourists. In some cases, it fails to fulfill the original products quality and authenticity. In authenticity, there is a separation between knowledge and a feeling of authenticity, according to Selwyn (1996). Without proper knowledge of whether or not something is authentic, it is easy for a tourist to feel that an experience or a product is authentic, even if that would not be the case. (Holden, 2005)

    “One has to realize all the time that what may be authentic in the eyes of a tourist may be daily routine for a local. The opposite holds true, too: things that local people feel are special and authentic in their society may be ignored completely by tourists. Two visions and two realities play their parts at the same moment with reference to the same objects or phenomena.” (Gisolf, 2010)

    The question of authenticity depends greatly from the point of view. As an example, a natural waterfall may have been marketed by a tourist company concluding that a tourist has a certain expectation of the authenticity of the attraction when arriving. It is then the tourist who experiences an authentic waterfall with different expectations and does not feel like he or she has experienced something authentic. Another point of view to the question of authenticity can be the purpose of presenting something. For example, if the locals were outfits just for the tourist, it cannot be said to be authentic. In other hand if the locals are wearing the outfit regardless and the tourist view it, then it can be considered as authentic. These are all considerable views of weather something is authentic or not. (Gisolf, 2010)


    Impacts of tourism on culture

     Tourism has the prodigious characteristic of blending individuals from different backgrounds representing distinct cultures, and, of course, it is natural they influence each other. The most notably affected is the destination culture. This unquestionably has a positive aspect, primarily on communities that are not economically disadvantaged when compared to the tourists they host. This optimistic vision of cultural enhancement is encouraged by United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP); however, very often tourism brings uncomplimentary impacts upon culture. Multiple observations, and empirical works in anthropology were carried out to order to confirm and reaffirm the prevailing disadvantage (Holden, 2005).

    Indeed, stating that tourism is good or bad for the host communities is too ‘black-and-white’, so to have a better understanding this is explained in anthropology as ‘acculturation- the process by which the borrowing of one or some elements of culture takes place as a result of a contact at any destination between two different societies’ (Holden, 2005). The western world has always looked upon the less developed countries as being untouched by other influences of the world before tourism; however, there are very few chances of finding a pristine community considering the economic interdependence of global trade with its following external impacts, and globalization. It is quite challengeable to separate those communities impacted purely by tourism, given that so many cultures westernized via access to the global media and information technology.

    To a grater or smaller extent, tourism undoubtedly influences cultural change. There are three ways depicted by scholar Ribinson (Holden, 2005).  The first one defines as ‘culture prophet’ is accentuated upon the demonstration effect of the tourists that generate the cultural change considerably more than other forms of influence. Tourists with a higher material standard of living are viewed as ‘role models,’ particularly by families with economic and social stress like crime and family breakdowns, and need to work extra hours. Second way is when tourists work as ‘catalysts,’ stimulating the practice of cultural change that already started in response to other influences, like trade. The third, less practiced, way to affect cultural change is when tourist act as ‘inhibitors,’ encouraging communities to preserve, practice, and propagate their own culture. This is often supported by the locals themselves, especially when the tourist behavior is seen as unattractive. Sometimes, the demonstration effect of tourists is negative when their behavior is seen as disrespectful towards the host communities. An example is dressing inappropriately when visiting mosques, or giving money and sweets to children, thus encouraging begging. Very often tourists` attitude and demeanor itself are unacceptable, considering they are on vacation and allow themselves to behave more frivolously than they would at home. The response to such behavior differs from one community to other, depending on social place, political view, but most frequently on economic reliance. Those communities than heavily depend upon the economic and financial benefits of tourism, will be more favorable and tolerant towards it. These would represent the first stage of the Doxey`s ‘Stages of possible cultural reaction to tourism’ model (Holden, 2005).

    The first stage is euphoria- that is when locals are pleased and excited to see the tourists. Typical for tourism of small scale. Facilities and accommodations are usually locally owned, and there is little commercialization involved, the nature of contact is not business oriented. The second stage is segregation- when locals isolate their lives and activities from tourists’, as the number of tourists increases. As more entrepreneurs see the financial potential, tourism become more commercialized and the type of contact becomes more business oriented. The third stage is opposition- when some groups or even whole communities of locals become oppositional to tourism because of their unacceptable behavior and restriction to some local resources. This happens when tourism commercialization starts crossing the local border and foreign tour operators start offering pre-arranged travel packages. The destination is developed with outside investment, thus the connection becomes strictly about business.  The last stage is antagonism- when the locals openly protest and reject any type of tourism. It can reach the extreme when locals attack the tourist facilities, accommodations, or even tourists.


    Protecting culture

    After considering all the possible impacts that tourists may have on local culture, it is understandable that the community might want to protect their own culture. There are six methods to be mentioned of protecting local culture, which are; covert resistance, hiding, fencing, ritual, organized protest and aggression. (Holden, 2005)

    Covert resistance is not straight forward negativity towards tourist, but is most likely to be noticed as gossiping and keeping up the image of tourists as hostile and rude. The other method hiding, is more straight forward. In this one the local community tries to hide parts of its culture, for example a specific food or an event. Thus, they protect these parts of their culture. (Holden, 2005)

    Fencing is a method which can be grasped as literally fencing some areas from tourists. It can also include events instead of concrete areas. For example, keeping an event as a secret to tourists, so that only the local population can enjoy the event. Rituals are methods that have a long history as preserving the local culture and the feeling of belonginess. (Holden, 2005)

    Organized protest is more direct method whereas aggression as well. Organized protest sends a clear hostile message to tourist, where the local community is protesting to get their opinions and voices heard. In this situation locals already feel that tourist are bringing negative impact and try to make a difference.  Aggression is an ultimate solution which can go as far as to violence against tourists. As an example, can be said that there are cases where tourist have been even stoned in order that they disrupted a local ritual or event.  These six methods above can be seen as ways of protecting the local culture in a different level of frustration of the local population. (Holden, 2005)






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