Tag Archives: favela tourism

New book on slum tourism out now! Touring Poverty by Bianca Freire-Medeiros


Yesterday a new book on slum tourism by one of the leading scholars of the subject, Bianca Freire-Medeiros was published. The book called “Touring Poverty” focuses on tourism in Rocinha, the most famous slum tourism destination in Latin America. It is a striking account and certainly a worthy read. You can find more information in the press release below


Touring Poverty (Routledge Advances in Sociology)



Touring Poverty addresses a highly controversial practice: the transformation of impoverished neighborhoods into valued attractions for international tourists. In the megacities of the global South, selected and idealized aspects of poverty are being turned into a tourist commodity for consumption.

The book takes the reader on a journey through Rocinha, a neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro which is advertised as “the largest favela in Latin America.” Bianca Freire-Medeiros presents interviews with tour operators, guides, tourists and dwellers to explore the vital questions raised by this kind of tourism. How and why do diverse social actors and institutions orchestrate, perform and consume touristic poverty? In the context of globalization and neoliberalism, what are the politics of selling and buying the social experience of cities, cultures and peoples?

With a full and sensitive exploration of the ethical debates surrounding the ‘saleof emotions’ elicited by the fi rst-hand contemplation of poverty, Touring Poverty is an innovative book that provokes the reader to think about the role played by tourism—and our role as tourists—within a context of growing poverty. It will be of interest to students of sociology, anthropology, ethnography and methodology, urban studies, tourism studies, mobility studies, development studies, politics and international relations.

Bianca Freire-Medeiros is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Center for Research and Documentation on Brazilian Contemporary History (CPDOC) at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She was a Research Fellow at the Center for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe) at Lancaster University.

PREFACE by Licia do Prado Valladares (Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Lille 1 – France and Associate Researcher at IESP in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil)

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!


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.

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.





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?


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.


‘I went to the City of God’: Gringos, guns and the touristic favela

Bianca Freire-Medeiros recently published an article in the Journal fo Lain American Cultural studies regarding the  influence of the film City of God on the way tourists experience the favela (in this case Rocinha) in “real life”. She investigates how experiences are related back to idealised notions that have been taken from the cinematic favela of City of God and looks at the extent to which this gives further legitimacy to such images.

The article can be downloaded from Ingenta connect although unfortunately a subscription is required.

Freire-Medeiros, B. (2011) “I went to the City of God”: Gringos, guns and the touristic favela. Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies: Travesia, 20 (1), p.p.21.

If you have recently seen or published a journal article, book or any other type of publication that involves slum tourism, please let us know so we can make others aware of it.

Slum Tourism around the World

An interesting finding of the Destination Slum! conference for me was just how many different shapes and forms slum tourism has across the world. The term slum tourism may act as an overencompassing term, but it does hold certain negative connotations and can lead to generalisations that do not fit in certain contexts. Not only may the term be unable to fully accommodate the great differences between “slum areas” around the world, it also suggests “slums” are homogenous entities. Of course this is not the case. While nearly all areas that are visited under the name of slum tourism include people living in shacks, other parts of these areas often are indistinguishable from other (richer) suburbs that would never be represented as slums.

Langa township, South Africa

In different countries other terms have become more common to better describe the localised forms of slum tourism. The most famous terms are of course favela tourism in Brazil and township tourism in South Africa. At the Destination Slum! conference however we were also told that a more appropriate term for slums in Egypt would be  Ashwa’iyyatt”, which may lead to the term Ashwa’iyyatt tourism. We were also informed that in China “slum areas” are not necessarily completely urbanised and slum tourism instead may be named “tourism to villages in the city“.

While these terms are undoubtedly better descriptives of the local forms of tourism, I do believe there is a place for the name slum tourism to describe the worldwide phenomenon. Although by no means perfect, it does appear to be able to bring together and combine these differerent outings of tourism around the world in one way or the other. Others may disagree and believe the term is actually hindering our understanding of the concept of slum tourism.

Feel free to comment with your opinion or to share your thoughts on other related questions such as: What other terms are used to describe slum tourism around the world and why are they more accurate than the general name slum tourism or how would we actually define slum tourism?