F3


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Tourism, ethnography and the patrimonialisation of culture 
Convenor:
Gino Satta (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia)
Stream:
Series F: Material culture
Location:
Henry Thomas Room
Start time:
12 April, 2007 at 11:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
1

Short Abstract:

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.

Long Abstract

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.

Accepted papers:

E

Author:

Antonio Miguel Nogués Pedregal (Universitas Miguel Hernández)

Paper short abstract:

The sudden interest in 'cultural heritage' interfered and conditioned many of the anthropological interests. This bring us back to the relation between power, knowledge and critical social thinking.

Paper long abstract:

Based upon many years of fieldwork in tourism context I reflect upon the theoretical and methodological problem of studying 'culture' in tourism environments. Though tourism has been Spain's most important source of income, very few social scientists has paid close attention to it. The cultural, developmental and research policies were not especially fond of promoting the study of tourism. However, once tourism trends moved from heliothalasotropism into culturalism and ruralism during the eighties, 'culture' has been perceived as a resource. From then on, development planning in rural areas and research projects started focusing on what was labelled as 'cultural heritage/patrimonio', and dozens of expertos en patrimonio, articles, books, congresses, seminars appeared in the market. Regarding anthropology, this sudden interest in 'cultural heritage', much on the contrary, interfered and conditioned many of the anthropological interests; what bring us back to the relation between power, knowledge and critical social thinking. I conclude that in order to face this dilemma, anthropologists must pay closer attention to cultural heritage/patrimonio as a 'meta-cultural product', and should deeply analyse the mediation role of tourism space in order to understand the production and reproduction of meanings both among tourists and neighbours. I exemplify my arguments on this process with some case-studies I have carried out in different parts of Spain.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

Sophie Corbillé (Université Paris-Sorbonne)

Paper short abstract:

[E-PAPER]

Paper long abstract:

This paper presents the results of an ethnographical observation of a Parisian tourism association called Belleville Insolite. One of its activities (the "circuits découverte") is a guided tour for people to discover "the authentic neighbourhoods of the Eastern Paris". These neighbourhoods (the 10th, 11th, 12th, 19th and 20th districts), which are organised around suburban streets and former villages, have been undergoing a process of gentrification for several years now. I will demonstrate how the organisation of these tours in these multicultural and multi-class urban spaces, participates in the emergence of social and symbolic relations based on "generalized ethnology" (J. Bazin) or "ethnographic communication" (G. Ciarcia). By this I mean that people who play a part in these situations use the classic "tools" and "objects" of ethnology to connect themselves with places and other people: discovery as a means to relate themselves to space and to others; authenticity as a specific object to be explored and as a source to produce a specific kind of urban player, the witness; and finally "culture", something on which they agree and towards which they interrelate. Doing so, people, among whom the "muliculturals" (P. Simon) are the most active, behave alternately as ethnographer and as key-informant, as explorer and as indigenous, making these neighbourhoods a kind of ethnographical territory.

Far from being a separate social field, this way of organizing social and symbolic relationships extends beyond the tourist situations. In fact, it seems that ethnographical communication is a particularly efficient means to arrange social class and inter-group relations in public spaces in places in the process of gentrification.

Finally, the analysis I am proposing questions the role played, within ethnological communication, by the different urban professionals who observe these spaces and the way they do it: i.e. anthropologists, sociologists, journalists, etc.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

Carla Almeida (Universidade Algarve)

Paper short abstract:

In a village of Portugal a long process in local history transforms the local through a process of patrimonisation of culture. In this process is relevant the interactions between the groups of local power, the state and ethnography. The tourism ethnographic is the argument of this process.

Paper long abstract:

This paper presents the case study of an inland rural village in the Algarve, the most popular tourist region in the south of Portugal. The village, Alte, is promoted, on the coastal tourist market as a cultural attraction and as model of a "traditional village" in the "backstage" of the region.

This objectification of the village is also used in discourses and local social practices. Alte "the traditional village" belongs, above all, to the local identity, which has incorporated this metaphor over the generations as a symbol of communitarian distinction.

This process is the outcome of a long lasting transformation that began in the 1930s, propelled by the State tourist propaganda. The, then, totalitarian regime made Alte an example of rural authenticity. As a consequence, from the 1950s onwards, the village was appropriated as "cultural capital" by bourgeois groups self-converted into local ethnographers. In this way, they legitimised the urban re-creation of the "traditional village" and began its folklorization.

Nowadays, the bourgeoisie promotes a new paradigm - "Alte, inland cultural village". This is a new traditionalist distinction made for the tourist commoditization which brings new practices and new meanings to "tradition". The ethnographic and cultural knowledge embedded by its inhabitants, in earlier times, is replaced by a new process of local, exclusivist and memorial patrimonilization. Therefore, power and tourism continue intertwined.

It is the dynamics of interaction, during this period, between the village as an ethnographic tourist destination and the forms of distribution and consolidation of power that this paper will cover. The dynamics implying different local and national social processes, such as acceptance, conflict and contestation, will also be analysed in the paper.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

Eisuke Tanaka (Fukuoka Jo Gakuin University)

Paper short abstract:

none

Paper long abstract:

This paper will explore how archaeological and historical significance of cultural manifestations comes to be recognised as an important resource for tourism, and in what way different agencies (e.g. nation-states, archaeologists, mass media, and the locals) articulate significance of 'cultural property' for claiming the control over such objects. For this purpose, it will focus on the case of Zeugma in southeast Turkey, where a huge number of extremely well-preserved Roman mosaics discovered through the salvaging excavations in 2000. The discovery of these mosaics stimulated both Turkish and international media attention, and through this the Zeugma mosaics were recognised as one of the world's greatest mosaic collections both in size and in quality, and as one of important cultural property of Turkey. In this process, the Zeugma mosaics became the important resource for the local tourism industry, which also entailed a shift in the local attitudes towards these mosaics. This shift was indicated when the Roman mosaics of Zeugma were again featured by the Turkish (and some international) mass media in 2004.

Analysing the ways in which the Zeugma mosaics were recognized Turkey's important cultural property, this paper will examine how different groups involved in this case, Turkish state agencies, Turkish and foreign archaeologists, and the locals, came to claim the significance of the mosaics as 'cultural property.' In so doing, the paper will focus on the role of the idea of protection, which was deployed by these agencies to express their attitudes towards significance of these mosaics. It will suggest that difference between articulations of cultural property by different agencies was made distinct through the idea of protecting cultural property, which was considered to be a good in itself.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

Donald Macleod (Glasgow University)

Paper short abstract:

[E-PAPER]

Paper long abstract:

Tourism is playing an increasingly important role in the production of heritage. Various groups are aware that heritage in the form of attractions, centres, and museums can become a magnet for tourists and consequently bring money into a community, region or nation. However, the production of this heritage, in terms of choice of topic, interpretation and manufacture will usually be in the hands of a few people who are already in positions of relative power.

This paper examines three distinct regions and focuses on specific heritage developments that illustrate the cultural context of heritage, especially the relevance of social groups and their power to shape representations through heritage material. Furthermore, it looks at how an awareness of tourism impacts on heritage representation and development.

1. The burgeoning commodification of folk culture and festivals on a Canary Island, driven largely by national and commercial interests, is contrasted to the heartfelt disappearance of a way of life among local inhabitants.

2. In the Dominican Republic, the public presentation of cultural history and the official agency representation of a fishing village are contrasted with the indigenous celebration of local history by a family which claims ownership of the land.

3. A growth of small 'Theme Towns' and heritage centres in South West Scotland with or without public agency support is examined, demonstrating a grassroots desire to preserve and represent culture while developing the economy.

These three examples show the increasing complexity of heritage interpretation and the growing inclusion of multiple viewpoints. They also illustrate the contest over resources and representation through the production of heritage in which different groups, locals and agencies, compete or cooperate against the backdrop of tourism.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

Charlotte Joy (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

none

Paper long abstract:

This paper will explore the conflicting views of the importance of heritage preservation in Djenné, a World Heritage site in Mali, West Africa. Throughout fieldwork in Djenné and within UNESCO, I have attempted to do an 'ethnography of heritage', bringing to light the often neglected views and concerns of the people living in the town. Djenné is a town built entirely in mud brick architecture and is an excellent case study of the success and failure of competing interventions on peoples' cultural lives. For variety of social, climatic and economic reasons, the yearly maintenance of the houses in Djenné is becoming beyond the reach of many householders who are turning to non-traditional architectural methods to keep their houses in good condition. These non-traditional methods are strongly condemned by the government and UNESCO whose aim is to keep the town materially the same.

Within the town, the Cultural Mission, the Tourist Office, the Imam and more traditional authority structures such as the 'Chef du Villages' and the 'quartiers' elders all have a say in its preservation. Recent international interventions such a housing restoration scheme and more controversially, a scheme to improve the Mosque which provoked a riot, bring to light the underlying tensions of heritage preservation in a poverty stricken town. Against this background, tourism plays a vital role in the economic life of Djenné and is an often unspoken agent of change. For many residents in Djenné, a direct link must be made between the interventions asked of them by UNESCO and other outside agencies and economic gain. This paper will use the case study of Djenné to explore the ways in which cultural ownership is negotiated at a local, national and international level and the consequences of these discourses on peoples' everyday lives.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed