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Noel Bernard Salazar
Title & Author
Envisioning Eden: A glocal ethnography of tour guidingNoel Bernard Salazar
University of Pennsylvania
Using international tourism as an analytical and ethnographic entry, this study explores the intricate ways in which local to global processes intersect, overlap, and clash. Destinations worldwide are adapting themselves to the homogenizing standards of global tourism while at the same time trying to maintain, or even increase, their local distinctiveness. Central to these deeply intertwined processes are tourism imaginaries, understood as representational systems that mediate reality and form identities, and their (re)production by local tour guides, key agents in the selling and telling of natural and cultural heritage. Drawing on 25 months of multi-sited and multi-temporal fieldwork in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and Arusha, Tanzania, this study addresses the following issues: (1) the representation of peoples and places in globally circulating tourism imaginaries; (2) the perceived, officially sanctioned, and actual roles of local tour guides in this representational practice; (3) the formal schooling and informal learning of guides to appropriate images and discourses of tourism; (4) the (re)production and contestation of fashionable tourism imagery in guiding narratives and practices; and (5) the ways in which dominant imaginaries and personal imaginations of tourism stakeholders are (dis)connected. The methodology used, labeled as glocal ethnography, involves a mixed-methods approach including extensive observation, interviews, questionnaires, and the collection of secondary data. The comparative and discourse-centered analysis of the data reveals how local guides in Yogyakarta and Arusha act as “mechanics of glocalization”, assuring the continued circulation and localization of tourism fantasies, but also using the encounter with foreigners to foment their own imaginations of “paradise on earth” and to accumulate cosmopolitan knowledge. These findings add not only to the current theorizing on tour guiding and tourism, they demonstrate the potential of glocal ethnography as a methodology to move global studies from mere description or critique to grounded holistic analyses that unravel the complex human mechanisms underlying processes of glocalization. The study's focus on the human aspects of globalization, on cosmopolitanism, and on the role of the imaginary in giving people's lives meaning, illustrates some creative ways in which anthropologies of tourism and travel can contribute to ongoing theoretical and methodological debates about the local-to-global nexus.
Social sciences; Anthropology; Ethnography; Globalization; Indonesia; Tanzania; Tour guiding; Tourism; Cultural anthropology; Geography; Sociology; Recreation; 0326:Cultural anthropology; 0814:Recreation; 0366:Geography; 0626:Sociology
S. T. S. Barnes, Peggy R.
University of Pennsylvania
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