The process of patrimonialization has turned culture in a field of active political intervention by a plurality of agencies, where tourism and ethnography intermix and cross, in defining the field and the cultural resources that agencies play with in reshaping heritage and traditions.
The ongoing process of patrimonialization of culture (i.e. the transformation of culture into a property, strictly defined and subject to ownership) is rapidly changing the way anthropologist think about culture, as well as their research agendas. Culture isn't anymore something that is simply reproduced and transmitted from one generation to the next. It has become a field of active political intervention for a plurality of agencies, some of them institutionally linked to the nation-state, or to international organizations and bureaucracies, some emerging from grass roots movements. Tourism and ethnography both play a major role, each in its own way, in the process of reshaping and institutionalization of cultures and traditions. Its always growing economic importance places tourism at the center of material exchanges and symbolic imagery in many local contexts pushing people to see themselves through the tourists' eyes and to shape their heritage accordingly; while etnography is used by both the global tourist industry and the local agencies as a major source of legitimacy for their interpretations of cultural ownership. The panel aims to focus on patrimonialization processes where tourism and ethnography intermix and cross in defining the field and the cultural resources that different agencies play with for claiming cultural ownership.