Accepted Paper:

“Sustainable” tourism and area studies - west looking east 1932 - 2007  


Marija Anteric (University of London, Birkbeck)
Richard Clarke (University of London)

Paper short abstract:

A half-century of ‘anthropological tourism’ by amateur and university groups based on the Le Play Society’s analytical troika ‘Place, Work and Folk’ prefigured the normative ‘environment, economy and society’ of sustainability discourse and is manifest in management strategies and governance structures for protected landscapes (such as Solčavsko, the centre of a new Kamniško-Savinjsko Alps regional park) to which ‘sustainable tourism’ is key.

Paper long abstract:

Sir Dudley Stamp's 1932 study of Solčavsko was undertaken under the auspices of the Le Play Society, a body which emerged from initiatives in the early part of last century to promote interdisciplinary regional studies under the slogan 'Place, Work and Folk' - an analytical troika which bears more than a coincidental resemblance to the normative 'environment, economy and society' of present-day sustainability discourse. The 1971-72 Brathay 'Expedition' had a similar (though more explicitly recreational) agenda. Many more 'recreational' field study visits to central and eastern Europe were undertaken by adult amateurs as well as university groups, over the half century from the mid 1920s to the mid 1970s. Although interdisciplinary area studies subsequently became distinctly unfashionable, they have enjoyed a revival, particularly in the context of the preparation of management strategies for European protected landscapes (such as the new Kamniško-Savinjsko Alps regional park) where tourism is perceived as capable of making a significant contribution to the 'harmonious relationship' between people and place.

The early proponents of area studies placed much emphasis on 'civics' - the contribution of 'anthropological tourism' to social well-being for both the visitor and visited, on their outcomes, to a more generalised vision of social progress. We argue that the early aspirations of the Le Play Society can be manifest - in both their practical and conceptual weaknesses, as well as their strengths - in protected landscape management strategies and their preparation. The place of tourism in socioeconomic transition provides a clear illustration.

Panel W104
Eastbound: perspectives on tourism in Central and Eastern Europe