International Conference, Bristol Business School, Bristol, United Kingdom

9-11th December 2010

Destination Slum: The production and consumption of poverty in travel and tourism

Slums (that includes favelas, townships and other notations as well) have long enticed popular imagination. They have been scandalised and fought, bulldozed down and walled in. Equally however they were idealised and sought out as places displaying a more authentic humanity, flourishing culture and deviant, but inventive entrepreneurship. Not just the recent fascination with films like “City of God” and “Slum Dog Millionaire” shows that these desires have all but vanished. Indeed in today’s ‘planet of slums’, slum-tourism flourishes. Concurrently the concept of slum tourism is problematised in a growing body of research that addresses this controversial past time.

Paramount in reflections of slum tourism are ethical concerns and potential benefits:

  • Is slum tourism voyeuristic and immoral?
  • How are guided tours organized or composed?
  • What is and why is it shown?
  • To what extent can it provide an income and positive visibility for people in deprived areas?
  • What motivations and expectations did and do people have to visit slums?
  • Why and to what extend are slum tours considered to be ‘authentic’ forms of holidays?
  • Which stakeholders are involved in slum tourism and who profits most?
  • How does today’s slum-tourism relate to its historic predecessors and to the legacy of colonialism?
  • What are the geographical scopes of slum-tourism and which place does it occupy in the new mobility system?
  • Where does slum tourism fit in a globalised world of tourist consumption?
  • What is the relationship between slum tourism and issues of migration, democracy and (in)equality?

An increasing number of scholars are working on these issues on different continents. This conference aims to bring together researchers of slum and poverty tourism in urban areas, in order to stimulate an exchange of experiences and contacts. Working towards the formation of an international network of researchers the conference will also aim to be stepping stone for further co-operations and projects on the subject.

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Keynote speaker: Dr. Bianca Freire-Medeiros, author of Touring Poverty (Routledge, 2011).

We are calling for propositions to present papers and their research on slum tourism addressing:

  • The histories of slum tourism: differences between earlier forms of slum tourism and the ones we witness today
  • Slums and their populations as tourist attractions
  • Slum tourism and the ‘search for authenticity’
  • The commodification of poverty.
  • Representations of the slum beyond tourism: photography, film, and literature
  • Favela Chic: the mobile imaginary of the slum in popular culture
  • The geographies of slum tourism.
  • Slum Tourism and the New Mobilities Paradigm
  • Voluntourism’s relation to slum tourism
  • Slum-Tourism in Disaster Zones
  • Slum-Tourism as Dark Tourism
  • Slum tourism as pro-poor tourism
  • Entrepreneurship and small business involvement in slum tourism
  • The business ethics of slum tourism
  • Theoretical, methodological and ethical issues in Slum Tourism Research.

Researchers from across all disciplines are invited to submit paper proposals. They should include the title of the paper, a short abstract (max. 300 words), institutional affiliation and contact information.

The conference will take place at the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK. The fees for the 3-day event are 100 Pound Sterling (50 Pound for Graduate Students), covering conference materials, refreshments, lunch and two dinners. More information will be available on

Proposals should be send before September 1, 2010 to Dr. Fabian Frenzel ( Accepted presentations are invited to submit full papers by 15th November 2010 to be considered for publication in a special issue of an international journal (Negotiations are under way). We look forward to hearing from you.

Organising committee:

Dr. Fabian Frenzel, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol

Ko Koens, ICRT (International Centre for Responsible Tourism), Leeds Metropolitan University

Professor Manfred Rolfes, Department of Geography, University of Potsdam

Dr. Malte Steinbrink, IMIS (Institute for Migration Research and

Intercultural Studies), University of Osnabrueck.

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