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slum tourism

Slum Tourism: Developments in a Young Field of Interdisciplinary Tourism Research – Free download

A recent article by Fabian Frenzel and Ko Koens titled “Slum Tourism: Developments in a Young Field of Interdisciplinary Tourism Research” can now be downloaded for free from the publisher’s website. It provides a short overview of current central themes in the literature on the subject and sets out a short research agenda. As such it is both a useful introduction for researchers that are new to the subject, as well as those that want to reacquaint themselves with subject to do new research in the future.

It is not certain how long this articel will remain open access, so it may be useful to download it soon!

Abstract

This paper introduces the Special Issue on slum tourism with a reflection on the state of the art on this new area of tourism research. After a review of the literature we discuss the breadth of research that was presented at the conference ‘Destination Slum’, the first international conference on slum tourism. Identifying various dimensions, as well as similarities and differences, in slum tourism in different parts of the world, we contest that slum tourism has evolved from being practised at only a limited number of places into a truly global phenomenon which now is performed on five continents. Equally the variety of services and ways in which tourists visit the slums has increased.

The widening scope and diversity of slum tourism is clearly reflected in the variety of papers presented at the conference and in this Special Issue. Whilst academic discussion on the theme is evolving rapidly, slum tourism is still a relatively young area of research. Most papers at the conference and, indeed, most slum tourism research as a whole appears to remain focused on understanding issues of representation, often concentrating on a reflection of slum tourists rather than tourism. Aspects, such as the position of local people, remain underexposed as well as empirical work on the actual practice of slum tourism. To address these issues, we set out a research agenda in the final part of the article with potential avenues for future research to further the knowledge on slum tourism.

Frenzel, F. & Koens, K. (2012) Slum Tourism: Developments in a Young Field of Interdisciplinary Tourism Research. Tourism Geographies, 14 (2), p.pp.1–18.

Two new articles on slum tourism in India

The popularity of slum tourism in academic journals continues to increase.Here are two new ones:

An article titled Touristic mobilities in India’s slum spaces by Anya Diekmann and Kevin Hannamwas recently published in Annals of Tourism Research.They examine walking tour experiences of tourists doing slum tours in India to examine representational and non-representational theories of social lifes

The ethics of slum tourism in India are revisited by Deepak Chhabra and Akshat Chowdhury in their article titled Slum Tourism: Ethical or Voyeuristic? They note how slum tourism constitutes complex production process strives to provide both meaningful and profitable tourist gazes, although heavy traces of voyeurism can be found.

New Book on Slum Tourism

Last week a new book on slum tourism was published by Routledge Publications. Edited by Fabian Frenzel, Ko Koens and Malte Steinbrink, it contains both theoretically oriented papers papers as well as more practical case study examples of slum tourism of seven different countries on four continent. In combination with the special issue of Tourism Geographies on slum tourism that was discussed earlier on slumtourism.net , the book provides a comprehensive overview of the current empirical, practical and theoretical knowledge on the subject.

Within the book a critical review of issues associated with slum tourism is provided, asking why slums are visited, whether they should be visited, how they are represented, who benefits and in what way? As such the work promises to offers new insights to tourism’s role in poverty alleviation and urban regeneration, power relations in contact zones and tourism’s cultural and political implications.

 

 

 

CONTENTS:

1. Slum Tourism – A New Trend in Tourism?

Part 1: Situating Slum Tourism

2. Wanting to Live with Common People? The Literary Evolution of Slumming

3. Beyond ‘Othering’ the Political Roots of Slum-Tourism

4. Slum Tourism: For the Poor by the Poor

5. Competition, Cooperation and Collaboration: Business Relations and Power in Township Tourism

Part 2: Representation of Poverty

6. ‘A Forgotten Place to Remember: Reflections on the Attempt to Turn a Favela into a Museum’

7. Tourism of Poverty: The Value of Being Poor in the Non-Governmental Order

8. Negotiating Poverty: The Interplay Between Dharavi’s Production and Consumption as a Tourist Destination

9. Reading the Bangkok Slum

Part 3: Slum Tourism and Empowerment

10. Favela Tourism: Listening to Local Voices

11. Slum Tourism and Inclusive Urban Development: Reflections on China

12. Poverty Tourism as Advocacy: A Case in Bangkok

13. Curatorial Interventions in Township Tours: Two Trajectories Conclusion

14. Keep on Slumming?

 

Difficulties in promoting tourism to the Tenderloin area in San Francisco

Although most news on slum tourism still focuses on developing countries, slum  tourism is becoming more and more visible in Western Europe and the USA too, as do the ethical discussions surrounding such tourism. A recent example of this is so called tourism to the area of  “Tenderloin” in San Francisco.  Proponents who want to develop this kind of tourism are backed by the city’s mayor who wants to use tourism to promote “a positive identity for the Tenderloin” by posting plaques on buildings to “create great visual interest for those walking down the community’s street”.

I found two points particularly interesting about this article. Firstly it mentions it may be easier to encourage local San Franciscans to visit the area, rather than foreign tourists, given that there are so many things to do in the city. If it will be mainly local people that visit the area, tourism here will be very different from for example township tourism or favela tourism that are mainly visited by foreign visitors. It would be interesting to see if these areas will be represented in different ways because of this, particularly as domestic slum tourism receives very little popular and academic attention.

Another, slightly related point that intrigued me has been the reception of the idea of tourism. One blogger was fairly moderate in his comments and discussed how the area may simply not be suitable for tourism and media-hungry public figures use it for some free publicity. I do not know the area, but this could very well be the case. Others have been less moderate and show the underlying tensions that are so significant with slum tourism. One blogger decided to criticise the idea of tourism to Tenderloin by making fun of it, stereotyping the neighborhood and the people who live there. It would seem articles like this do more to misrepresent and stigmatise impoverished neighborhoods than tourism could ever do. As an author from the Tenderloin area notes, the article is full of banal and overblown generalizations and simply bad taste. Interestingly (s)he then turns to discuss tourism to the Tenderloin and argues that while seeming decent, tourism may actually to turn out very negative:

“Tours of poverty (rephrased as “grittiness” in some attempt at being politically correct) are scummy. There’s a reason that aspects of them are big in South Africa and Germany as it seems that in places where white supremacists were/are big, they love that shit. It’s like going to a human zoo for them. This of course fits in line with how they view anyone not white. Rather shocking that it’d be tried in San Francisco”.

An example of a vehicle that should not be used to visit a slum.

Here the prejudice and stereotype is reserved for those that are interested and take part in such tours. To be fair to this latter blogger in another post (s)he writes about how tourists visit Tenderloin in the vehicle that can be seen on the picture on the right. Even though the tour apparently also visited other parts of the city, using a vehicle like this to visit an area like Tenderloin is seriously distasteful and makes a  negative perspective on slum tourism more understandable.

The example of tourism to this neighborhood and the strong reactions it provokes  show the inherent difficulty involved with slum tourism. The idea of supporting tourism to an impoverished area and posting plaques on buildings seems a useful way of promoting awareness particularly among local people and potentially bring some additional money to poorer communities. However, it is very easy for slum tourism to be vulgarized and this makes it likely to be dismissed out of hand. On the other hand, hiding impoverished areas does not make them go away and provides visitors with only a partial picture of a place.

Again, it seems that one cannot really discuss slum tourism in terms of good and bad. It can be both, depending on the way areas are represented and the extent to which it is done with a respectful attitude to the community.

 

Poverty tourism, justice and policy

Evan Selinger, Kevin Outterson and Kyle Powys Whyte published a paper last month titled “poverty tourism, justice and policy” in which they discuss whether poverty tourism should be subject to specific policy constraints based on moral grounds.

They look at this matter through favela tours in Rocinha, Brazil and garbage dump tours in Mazatlan, Mexico. In their conclusion they  argue that slum or poverty tours are a result of complex social relationships that require individual attention  and policy research.

The paper can be downloaded from the homepage of the school of law at Boston University and is set to be published in a future edition of “Public Integrity

Selinger, E., Outterson, K. & Powys Whyte, K. (2011) Poverty Tourism, Justice and Policy. Boston, Boston University School of Law.

 

Call for papers: London Debates 2011

As mentioned in the last post, the School of Advanced Study at the University of London organises an annual international debate for outstanding young researchers in the humanities and social sciences. The competition is open to scholars who are in their final-year of doctoral study or up to 10 years beyond the award of their doctorate. Selected applicants will be awarded bursaries to contribute to travel and accommodation costs.

This year’s theme is “Is there a future for human rights in a non-Western world?” and a call for papers is out with a final submission date of Monday 7 february 2011.

The subject certainly seems suitable for a number of scholars working on slum tourism and the possibilities of bursaries to contribute travel and accommodation costs may provide an opportunity for overseas scholars to come and share their work.

Destination Slum! great success

The international conference on slum tourism that was held in Bristol from 9-11 December was a great success. Delegates from 6 continents discussed a wide variety of subjects dealing with tourism in slums around the world.

The conference started with an interesting and entertaining discussion of tourism in the favelas by keynote speaker Bianca Freire Medeiros. Following this,  24 other presentations were given that sparked off great discussions not only directly following the presentation, but also during coffee breaks and the evening programme.

To all that came, thank you very much for your input. Let’s hope we can follow up on the momentum of this conference to increase research and insights regarding slum tourism so that a follow up conference can be organised soon! In the meantime the RC21 conference in Amsterdam may be a next meeting point for those doing research on tourism in slum areas.

Slum Tourism on the internet

http://www.montrealcampus.ca/la-misere-des-riches: Recently an article on Slum tourism appeared in French on the website of Montrealcampus, mainly regarding the ethical aspects of the subject.

Left at the Crossroads: Ogling the poor: Slum tourism was also the subject of a column by Marc Saint-Upéry, discussing the ethics of slum tourism and linking favela tourism to tourism in Victorian times.

Towship tourism: A mixed blessing: Not so much an article on township tourism, but a photographical slideshow that depicts the concept of township toursin South Africa fairly well.