DU Wiki > Ă„mnen - Subjects > Tourism studies > Introduction to Tourism and Destination Development (TR1015) > Wiki - Article 3 > Anthropology and Tourism-group-9

Anthropology and Tourism-group-9

    Table of contents
    No headers

    Tourism Anthropology




    Group 9

    Adam Abdel-Al

    Toby Becker

    Rohan Oberoi

    Lukas Klempin



    The word anthropology comes from the Greek word Anthrōpos which means “human being” and the suffix -logy stands for the study of, in other words anthropology means the study of human beings. Anthropology concentrates on the studies of the origins of humans, how it has evolved as a species over the years, how we connect together in both our own culture or with another. Someone who works in that field or carries out their research in, would be studying people from various different backgrounds such as indigenous tribes in Australia, Brazilian coffee farmers or political activists in Iran. Some cultures are similar and others are far from that, every culture has its own habits, rituals, behaviour and lifestyles, and this is where the anthropologists come in to document all that. All the cultures are not similar to each other, such as Americans going to the middle east for a vacation, is very unlikely, instead they go to Europe and other countries. Thanks to Anthropology we are able to recognise which cultures can co-exist and which would clash, in many of these cases that would be based on religion because its what they have in common.

    Tourism is not only a great source of income, but also a great source of information for anthropologists, in that way they may be able two or more cultures meet together at the same time, which does not happen quite often on day to day basis. Every person who is on his way to a different country with another background go through a check list. One of those main points are getting a better understanding of the interconnections between diverse histories and cultures, understand the global and the local political economy, look up the role of symbolism and semiotics and get a better view on the local lifestyle and traditions.

    Anthropology has grown very fast, where they added a new branch specifically for the study of tourism. Tourism and travel became subjects that have been put under great consideration in anthropology not so long ago, in Europe in the 1930s and in the United States in the 1960s. There is one primary reason that can clarify the lack of attention, and that is because anthropologists believed that tourism was not a serious topic that should be discussed intellectually. Since then anthropologists have taken a big part in comprehending the affects of tourism on the host communities, as well the impact of travel on and individual, heritage and culture commodification, the types of tourists and tourism, the relationship between the local and tourism.


    Tourism as a ritual and sacred journey


    The act of tourism and pilgrimage have certain similarities, which include time for leisure and money (Smith, 1989 cited in Holden, 2006). Thus, in some areas of the world tourism can be seen as a spiritual journey with the goal of fulfilment in spiritual terms. However, tourism pilgrimage also have certain differences, as the goal of pilgrimage was a spiritual experience and travelling would be a larger part of the overall experience. Graburn (2001 cited in Holden, 2006) states that tourism is a modern ritual, as the tourist experiences an occasional leave from the known environment, surrounding the primary place of residence, which is a special event. The participation in tourism gives the tourist an understanding of the ordinality that the tourist experiences at home. Other events, including christmas and birthdays, have the same effect (Holden, 2006).


    Even though, travelling is an essential part in tourism, in the modern world, research on travelling as part of the tourism product is rare. In some forms of tourism, travelling may be the largest part of the overall experience, for example on cruise ships. Holden continues that one who travels often may not have the same experience in travelling, as opposed to someone who travels very few times and thus, the travel experience may be given different values, by tourists. Furthermore, tourists may not find any pleasure in travelling, due to delays and crowdedness (Holden, 2006).


    Grabber (2001 cited in Holden, 2006) describes tourism as ‘sacred’. Tresidder (1999 cited in Holden, 2006) explains that the use of the word ‘sacred’, although often connected to religion, does not necessarily have a religious nature. The word ‘sacred’ can be used to describe, for example, landscapes, as they usually remain unchanged and therefore have an image of continuity. This gives the tourists a certain feeling of security, as the urban areas are in a continuing state of change, and can be used in a therapeutic way (Holden, 2006).


    The therapeutic effects, that a tourist can gain from tourism, are often seen in individual lives, as events, such as divorce, may be a factor for tourism activity (Graburn, 2001 cited in Holden, 2006). Turner and Turner (1978 cited in Holden, 2006) point out three different stages, when participating in the modern-life ritual known as tourism. Firstly, the tourist is in the stage of ‘separation’, which begins with travelling, as the tourist leaves the usual environment and escapes the daily routine. The tourist then enters the stage of ‘liminality’, as the tourist leaves any duties behind. Lastly, the tourist reaches the stage ‘communitas’. In this stage a bond between strangers emerges, as all tourists have the fact in common that they are participating in tourism (Holden, 2006). Graburn (2001 cited in Holden, 2006) explains that, according to anthropological research, tourist tend to be on the same level, as they are in a foreign environment, regardless of social and economic statuses in the normal life. Furthermore, Holden (2006) explains that the bonding of tourists can emerge due to different circumstances, such as similar interests or nationality.


    Nash (1996 cited in Holden, 2006), however, criticises the use of the words ‘ritual’ and ‘sacred’, in connection with tourism, as tourism and its function are being misrepresented. Tourism is used for recreation, before returning to the normal life and obligations.




    The concept of selling dreams and mythological reconstruction on culture can be problematic and result in possible commoditizing of culture for economic purposes (Boissevain 1996, cited in Holden 2005, p. 141).

    The culture this incorporates can be seen from different angles such as historical monuments, heritage and carnivals etc. The main issues for the use of culture in tourism is that it’s conveyable to change in the culture, as authenticity is meant to lie in the past, it is fairly old. This creates opportunities for tourism to produce or cater for this authenticity, and creates a “staged authenticity”. For e.g. there is a crocodile ritual performed in New Guinea, a region named Sepik by Iatmul people. This ritual originally takes 3 days to perform, but has been reduced to less than 45 minutes, and now takes place at the arrival of a cruise ship (MacCannell 2001, cited in Holden 2005, p. 142). 

    So far, tourists have yet to decide what is “authentic” and this case is debatable. E.g. not knowing the crocodile ritual originally lasted for 3 days, how could the tourist judge by itself that it is inauthentic? Also, even if they would know, would they really chose to spend 3 days in wait of the ritual or prefer the 45 minutes’ version? This is the reason authenticity is debatable. The hyper-reality theory developed by Baudrillard (Baudrillard 1983, cited in Holden 2005, p.142) emphasizes that in a good consumer environment, everything that begins to stand in for reality that is so good but fake, the original may no longer be required. 

    The topic of discuss authenticity also covers souvenirs, with different characteristics. These characteristics consists of different social worlds through their products and sales, which also leads to that the tourists and local people get to interact with each other. (Hitchcock 2000, cited in Holden 2005, p.142). 

    In the study of authenticity, the tourist’s viewpoint is an interesting subject. A compelling separation by Selwyn (Selwyn 1996, cited in Holden 2005, p.142) between ‘knowledge’ and ‘feeling’, ‘Knowledge’ meant that the understanding of authenticity that is based on a scientific rationale, and any such case would be decided against technical requirements. The tourist will rely on what they “feel” to decide whether or not what they are viewing is authentic or not when the absence of knowledge of what is actually authentic is present, which leads to absence of a detailed knowledge of what actually constitutes the authentic and that makes it very possible for the tourist to think that they are involved in an authentic cultural activity even if they are not. 

    While discussing the impacts of “staged authenticity” on the local culture, it is debatable hence the communication of their performance for money as well as rituals may lead less importance, a different perspective that is in the interests of tourist in a culture could lead to a re-made local pride in their primitive traditions. Staged authenticity is also used by local communities in order to conserve their local culture. Goffman developed and MacCannell embraces ‘back’ and ‘front’ regions (Goffman 1959 and MacCannell 1989, cited in Holden 2005, p.142) in order to illustrate how staged authenticity is used this way. ‘Front’ part meaning being the tourist and community interaction where staged authenticity takes place and ‘back’ the zone which local people retire and handle arrangements of common social interaction. 



    The Tourism Destination


    A point of focus done in the area of anthropology is looking at changes in culture at destinations which can be credited to tourism, looking more closely on the effects on culture in less developed countries. There are two main areas of enquiry when looking at this area, one being the political anthropology of tourism which looks at the social, political and economic relationships that “exist between the areas where tourists come from and where they visit” (Holden 2004) while the other area looks at how tourism can induce cultural change in the communities which lie in destinations. Political anthropology considers the factors which are able to generate tourism in developed countries, these factors are social, political and economic. In order for destinations to thrive as tourist locations, they often must fulfill the economic and social conditions which gave rise to mass tourism, since productivity “is the key to tourism and any analysis of tourism without reference to productive centers is incomplete” (Nash 1989, cited in Holden 2004).


     The typical characteristics for destinations which attract tourists are urban and situated historically in Western countries, as a result of this perceived dominance and control,tourism has occasionally been labelled as a form of imperialism. Imperialism is defined as “advocacy of imperialor sovereign interests over the interests of dependent states” ( and in terms of tourism it can be said that it demonstrates a nation expanding its political and economic interests into another state, usually from a more developed western power into less developed ones, in the context of the political tourism relations between the developed and developing countries it is seen as a relationship between the dominant and subordinate, and Turner and Ash see the relationship with the terminology of guest and hosts with the host being treated as subordinate while the guest represent a form of “cultural imperialism” (Turner and Ash, cited in Holden 2004). Tourist movement between countries which are less and more developed brings into contact different cultures, which can have a profound cultural impact, westernisation is a common theme amongst lower income destinations who are experiencing a large influx of western visitors. It is also important to note that power relationships which occur amongst different countries within the tourist system, also occur among different classes and groups in a society,influencing the use of culture, and how it affected in tourism.


    A.Holden (2004)Tourism studies and the social sciences,Oxon: Routledge

    Nash (1989) cited in A.Holden. (2004).Tourism studies and the social sciences,Oxon: Routledge

    Turner and Ash cited in A.Holden. (2004).Tourism studies and the social sciences,Oxon: Routledge retrieved 08112015 from

    Files (0)


    Comments (0)

    You must login to post a comment.