At the 2010 London Debates series, a set of international discussion workshops aiming to bring together early career researchers and invited senior researchers. Bianca Freire-Medieros presented a paper on the relation between the colonial legacy and favela tours. Her discussion is interesting and contains several linkages to the ethical debate on slum tourism as well. Among other things she concludes:
“Within culture, the margins, albeit still peripheral”, writes Stuart Hall, “have never been a space more productive than they are today” (quoted in Schwertner 2007). Such productive space is not only an effect of the opening in the dominating spaces, but also “results from cultural policies on the different, from struggles around the different, from the production of new identities and from the appearance of new subjects in the political and cultural arena” (ibid.). Hall argues that, although the opening of new spaces for the different is extremely positive, it might be equally perverse if the “characters of margin” are seen as no more than “a flavor of the exotic”. It seems to me that such is precisely the dilemma of the touristic favela, not because it is a touristic attraction, but for it is still perceived as belonging on the margins of Brazilian culture.
To understand how she reached this conclusion you can download the full paper (pdf 330 kb) from the London Debates Website. If you disagree with her or would like to discuss her findings, feel free to comment, if you have written a similar paper yourself and would like to publish it on slumtourism.net, please let us know!