From Stigma to Brand:
Commodifying and Aestheticizing Urban Poverty and Violence
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, February 16-18, 2017
Call for Papers
Prof. Dr. Eveline Dürr (LMU Munich, Germany)
Prof. Dr. Rivke Jaffe (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Prof. Dr. Gareth Jones (London School of Economics and Politics, UK)
This conference investigates the motives, processes and effects of the commodification and global representation of urban poverty and violence. Cities have often hidden from view those urban areas and populations stigmatized as poor, dirty and dangerous. However, a growing range of actors actively seek to highlight the existence and appeal of “ghettos”, “slums” and “no-go areas”, in attempts to attract visitors, investors, cultural producers, media and civil society organisations. In cities across the world, processes of place-making and place-marketing increasingly resignify urban poverty and violence to indicate authenticity and creativity. From “slum tourism” to “favela chic” parties and “ghetto fabulous” fashion, these economic and representational practices often approach urban deprivation as a viable brand rather than a mark of shame.
The conference explores how urban misery is transformed into a consumable product. It seeks to understand how the commodification and aestheticization of violent, impoverished urban spaces and their residents affects urban imaginaries, the built environment, local economies and social relations.
What are the consequences for cities and their residents when poverty and violence are turned into fashionable consumer experiences? How is urban space transformed by these processes and how are social relationships reconfigured in these encounters? Who actually benefits when social inequality becomes part of the city’s spatial perception and place promotion?
We welcome papers from a range of disciplinary perspectives including anthropology, geography, sociology, and urban studies.
• Please submit an abstract for a paper presentation including a title and your affiliation to: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Deadline for abstract submission is October 10, 2016
• Please note that limited financial support for registered PhD students is available. Please indicate in your abstract submission if you wish to apply.
In the provocative Slumming It, Fabian Frenzel explores the intriguing motivations and consequences of this form of tourism with a truly accessible, open-minded approach. He examines the strange allure that slums have for wealthier visitors, and he investigates the changes this curious attraction has led to on both a small and large scale: from gentrification and urban policy reform to the organization of international development and poverty alleviation efforts. Using case studies throughout the global south—including Rio de Janeiro, Bangkok, and cities in South Africa, Kenya, and India—Frenzel provides a comprehensive study of slum tourism and a controversial take on the potentially positive impact it may have on these struggling communities in the future.
Reviews: Bianca Freire-Medeiros, author of Touring Poverty
“Based on years of embedded fieldwork, Frenzel’s book cuts through the powerful mythology surrounding the so-called slums, townships, and favelas as tourist attractions to construct a revelatory narrative of the relationship between poverty and tourism, exploitation and political activism.”
John Hutnyk, author of The Rumour of Calcutta
“The reality of the slum is much fought over in commentary. Frenzel cuts through the confusion to evaluate the valorisation of poverty in tourism. With examples ranging across India, Brazil, Europe and South Africa, Frenzel offers an analysis, both comparative and detailed, that is a theoretically-informed advance on current scholarship.”
Manfred Rolfes, University of Potsdam
“Frenzel has written a very inspiring book, that is full of ideas and also deeply political. He opens up many new perspectives on slum tourism, and highlights its local and global dimensions.”
Eveline Dürr, LMU Munich
“Rich empirical evidence, expertly interrogated by notions of place valorisation, make this a fascinating piece of cutting-edge research on a fast emerging field of study. It makes a significant contribution to the available literature and is key reading for professionals and scholars alike.”
Christian M. Rogerson, University of Johannesburg
“A bold and carefully crafted analysis of slums and slum tourism. Theoretically grounded in the concepts of tourist valorization and local value regimes, it offers a nuanced and state of the art understanding of the nexus of tourism, slums and poverty.”
Imogen Tyler, author of Revolting Subjects
“This provocative and beautifully written study of slum tourism will transform your assumptions about the politics of slumming it. Drawing on rich ethnographic data, Frenzel carefully considers the activist potential of tourism to enact a relational politics of solidarity and care.”
Douglas died in an accident while attending the WLO Congress in 2014 in Mobile, Alabamba. In his memory the WLO has named its next congress in Durban, South Africa as ‘Douglas Ribeiro da Silva Field School’.
The WLO would like to offer a tribute to one of the students who participated in the last WLO Congress. Unfortunately, Douglas is no longer with us, but he left part of his legacy on the way he lived. In spite of all adversities in his life, he chose education and knowledge as the path to be followed in order to change society, to empower and emancipate people. His life was an inspirational example on how to overcome difficulties and discrimination with knowledge. We would like to keep his spirit alive by naming the Durban field school after him.
Many researchers in the slum tourism network have expressed their gratidute to the WLO for this tribute to Douglas’ memory.
The second part of the themed issues of the jounral Tourism Review International has been published. It features three papers on slum tourism, considering tourism in Vidigal, Rio de Janeiro, as well as in Kibera, Nairobi and Dharavi in Mumbai.
Ecological Slums? Initial Notes on Tourism and Ecology in Brazilian Favelas
Camila Maria Dos Santos Moraes
Tourism and Heritage Department, Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
CPDOC/FGV-RJ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Key words: Favela; Ecology; Tourism
“Breaking the Silence”: Local Perceptions of Slum Tourism in Dharavi Nieck Slikker* and Ko Koens†‡
*International Tourism Management, Stenden University of Applied Sciences, Leeuwarden, Netherlands
†Academy of Hotel and Facility Management, NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, Breda, Netherlands
‡School of Tourism and Hospitality, Faculty of Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
The special issue is diveded in two parts. One part features papers that revisit the question how tourism can alleviate poverty, while the second part focusses in on poverty as an attraction in tourism. Papers from the conference include the contributions of Sarah Becklake, Julia Burgold and Jan-Erik Steinkrüger. In the introduction to special issue, Malte Steinbrink and Fabian Frenzel show the growing numbers of destinations and tourists in slum tourism. In 2013, an estimated one million tourists went on a slum tour globally.
Most of the papers are in German and the papers are not yet available online. The print issue can be ordered via the journal webpage.
We are deeply saddened by the untimely death of Douglas Ribeiro, a young Brazilian slum tourism researcher. Many people in this research network got to know Douglas at the second slum tourism network conference Destination Slum!2 in May in Potsdam. He presented his research on resident perceptions of favela tourism in his community Paraisopolis, Sao Paulo. Douglas, a researcher not just of the favela, but from the favela, deeply impressed the conference with his presentation and his personality. Remarkably, Douglas had crowd-funded his trip to Germany among friends and relatives. He died after a swimming pool accident in Mobile, Alabama, where he attended the World Leisure Congress.
Several members of the slum tourism network have expressed their sadness over Douglas’ death. We will post these condolences here to show our respect for this young man who inspired many in the network so deeply.
Emily LeBaron wrote
“Today, I am shocked and saddened to hear of the death of young, talented, and sweet Douglas Ribeiro. I met Douglas at Destination Slum! 2 in Berlin in May, and like many others, was inspired by his strength, intellect, tenacity, and absolute love for the world. Douglas came to present his research on perceptions of slum tourism from the residents’ perspective, something he knew a lot about as a resident of a favela in Sao Paolo himself. He crowdfunded his entire trip to Germany (his “first international experience,” as he repeated constantly with joy), as neither his school nor his family had the funds. Since we met, he wrote me energetically about how excited he was to travel to a conference in Alabama this month – his first trip to North America. Tragically, it was his last adventure, and his last chance to share his knowledge with the world. He was found unconscious in the hotel pool, and after fighting a coma for a week, he passed away yesterday, September 13. He was only twenty years old and had so much left to give to the world. I am thankful for the privilege of meeting him, and for his contributions to the field and his community. Douglas will live on through the lasting impressions he left for all those who knew him. My thoughts are with his vast network of friends and family who are feeling this immense loss.”
Sarah Becklake wrote
“Today I am terribly sad to hear of the passing of a wonderful young man, Douglas Ribeiro. I met Douglas at the Potsdam Slum Tourism Conference in May this year. A resident of one of São Paulo’s favelas, he was at the conference to tell the world about what it is like to have tourism in favelas from the perspective of people who live there. He explained that he had only managed to get to the conference because of the people back home who believed in him and had, thus, started an online crowd fund sourcing appeal. I was so impressed and inspired by his bravery and tenacity. One night after dinner we walked home together. He told me how happy he was to be in Germany. He fell in love with the country, he said, and loved the architecture and museums. He also told me about all the plans he had for this life and his wonderful family and how much hard work his mother did. He gave me a Brazilian real so I could always remember him – it is in my office where I see it every day. I only knew Douglas for 3 days, but in those three days he entered my heart. He was truly one of the sweetest most genuine people I have ever come across. Any help towards his family at this difficult time would be most appreciated. Rest in peace Douglas and thank you for inspiring me.”
Moustafa Mekawy wrote:
Dear slum tourism network friends,
I feel deeply sad to hear about Douglas and want to share my sorrow with you and Douglas’s family.
We will miss Douglas’s deep, warm, social and enthusiasm commitment that we met at the second slum tourism network conference Destination Slum! 2 in Potsdam– and especially will remember from the conference tours in Berlin, in which I got the attached pictures of Douglas.
I give my deepest condolences to Douglas’s family.
I would like to express my sympathy after such big loss.
With all my regards.
Tony Seaton wrote
I am very sad to hear of Douglas’s death…
I met him only briefly on a walk during the conference, and we talked about the nerves of giving presentations. I did not realise he was so young and came from a poor background. I took him to be a postgrad from quite a prosperous family because, I remember him immaculate in a suit. He was, as Emily says, a personable and enthusiastic young man who was an admirable addition to your Slum Tourism network. Please add my name to any message of tribute and condolence sent to his parents and family.
Lisa Tegtmeier wrote
I cannot believe what you are telling us – I really would like to
completely be able to refuse to acknowledge this truth so it could not be true.
Linda Bouifrou-Shah wrote
I’m sick of this new,
but I am grateful you told us, despite the pain it drains and the indelible traces of sadness.
My Douglas died. He has been “kidnapped” by water, confused by his purity.
Premature absence to which we will have to learn to endure.
Only few days ago, he asked me when I was coming to visit him in Brazil,
I promised him it would be in my priorities for 2015 …
I am shocked.
Desperately sad and revolted against this misguided destiny …
The Prince of favelas
The one who has touched us so much.
First by its history of crowfunding ,
And by his shyness, which he opposed to his will to success.
He was very tall, by size and soul.
It’s a few of us which disapear, a little of the innocence of this world.
He probably had the potential to be a leadeur of the South in few years,
The voice of the people, of the « people of few» who can change the world.
I’ll never forget you, my child, our hope.
Malte Steinbrink wrote
I also met Douglas at the conference in Potsdam, and I had the honor to chair the session in which he presented his paper on the residents’ perception of Favela Tourism in Paraisopolis.
It was the first time he was outside Brazil, and the first time he presented in front of an academic audience. I can remember well his introductory words of his presentation:
“My name is Douglas Ribeiro, I live in São Paulo, I am a favelado … and I’m happy to be here. [..]”
Ribero, it was wonderful that you were there! Thank you.
Babara Vodopivec wrote
I am very sad and shocked to hear of Douglas’s death. We met at the Postdam conference and I think he left a huge impression on all of us. We had some very interesting conversations and I was really impressed by his passion, enthusiasm and positive outlook of the world. Doulgas, you will be missed. Rest in peace. My condolences to all of his family and friends.
Shareen Elnaschie wrote
I am deeply saddened by the news of Douglas’ untimely passing. We met only briefly during the Destination Slum2! conference in Potsdam but it did not take long to realise he was a truly wonderful and inspiring individual. We spoke about how he had managed to raise funds to attend the conference and share his knowledge and perspectives on slum tourism in the favelas. We spoke of his dreams to continue his research and to experience more of the world. His enthusiasm and excitement were almost tangible, and certainly contagious.
My heart goes out to his family and friends.
Thomas Frisch wrote
I’m terribly sad and still find it hard to believe that Douglas has passed away. He will leave a hole in my heart and for sure in many other people’s, too. I first met him, like the other participants, at the conference in Potsdam, where I had the chance to talk with him about his studies, his first foreign adventure and many other things. When it was time for me to return home, I invited him to stay at my place in Hamburg, if he would pass by there during his stay in Germany. I did not expect him to call me the next day saying he was on the way to visit me. We had a great time and long conversations every day. I was impressed by his immense curiosity, his courage and his mature thoughts on many matters. He seemed like a little brother to me and I was constantly looking at my mobile phone during work, anxious about him getting lost in the city. But he didn’t and so he spent some days with me and my girlfriend. On his last day in Hamburg we had a farewell picnic in a park close by. He enjoyed it a lot and we set up plans to visit him in São Paulo. When he was back in Brazil, he continued to keep me updated about what happened in his life. And there was a lot going on. He was very excited about going to Alabama, just another step on his way to where he chose his life to go to, I thought. And it is still unbelievable and painful that he won’t be able to go any further in this direction with all the potential he had. I will remember him walking down the streets with his green crocs and large suitcase, eager to know everything about every place. I will remember his great sense of humour, his overwhelming commitment to pursue his dreams and just for being a very, very special person.
I’m so grateful to have met you, Douglas. Be well, wherever you are!
Menatullah Hendawy wrote
When we First (and last) met last May I (knew) that we will stay in touch, meet again, and may be cooperate in future projects. But death seems way closer than what we feel, think, or expect.
May your soul rest in peace.
May we meet again, in a better place
May your death teach us about the reality of life
Same as how your life showed us the beauty within hardships, your death shall remark another turning point in our lives.
وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ مَّاذَا تَكْسِبُ غَدًا ۖ وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ بِأَيِّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
“No soul is aware of what it will earn tomorrow and no soul knows in which land it will die. Surely, Allah is the Knower, the Aware”
Holy Quran – 31:34
In December 2010 slum tourism researchers gathered in Bristol, UK, for the first international “Destination Slum” conference addressing specifically the aesthetic, economic, historical, political and social dimensions of slum tourism. Slum tourism, defined broadly as touristic visits to urban areas of relative poverty, remains a controversial pastime. Despite the controversies this leisure practice is on the rise globally, in developing as well as developed countries. New destinations are added to an already comprehensive list of locations while some older destinations shows signs of maturity and saturation with high levels of diversification, policy interventions, including the integration of slum tourism into urban regeneration and urban tourism strategies. Slum Tourism seems to have entered a new phase.
Just like the development of the phenomenon of slum tourism, academic research has picked up in speed as well, accounting for the phenomenon in a range of case studies from diverse disciplines. The foci of research have also shifted beyond the pertinent questions of ethics, impact and motivation, to address the multiple connections of slum tourism to other forms of tourism, like volunteering, sustainable tourism, community based and pro-poor-tourism or dark tourism and others. Moreover researchers have turned to discuss the possible contributions research on slum tourism can make to questions arising in the study of global phenomena and questions like mobilities, social movements and protest, urban regeneration, security, mega events or poverty alleviation.
Slum tourism research has reached a new phase and the second conference of the network will enable an engaged exchange of the insights gained over the last few years. We aim to better understand the recent rapid expansion and diversification of slum tourism as well as to develop new perspectives on the phenomenon.
We‚d like to invite empirical and theoretical papers that discuss slum tourism and related phenomena in various destinations, comparative research focusing on different case studies as well as conceptual cognate questions such as, but not limited to
theoretical reflections on slum tourism
tourism and poverty alleviation
informal economies ˆ informal tourism
authenticity and valorisation regimes in slum tourism
slum tourism in urban policy
urban regeneration, gentrification and tourism
slum tourism and mega-events
(changing) moral and ethical views on slum tourism
security, slum and tourism
entrepreneurship in slum tourism
social functions/roles of slum tourism
justice tourism and solidarity travel
volunteer tourism and poverty
economies of charity and slum tourism
the migration/tourism nexus and the slum
identity, culture and slum tourism
literary slumming in writing, film and games
histories of slum tourism and slumming
Please submit your abstract of up to 300 words with affiliation and contact details using the submit abstract page on the conference webpage. All abstracts will be peer-reviewed by members of the conference committee and we will notify within four weeks of your submission. Accepted papers are to be considered for publication in a special issue of an academic journal (negotiations are underway).
UPDATED Deadline for abstract submissions: 1st of March 2014