We invite papers examining the mediators of the tourism contact zone, especially tour guides. What are the problems and complexities of this position as staged, played out and (mis/auto)represented by the tour guide? How are they shaped by power relations and new technologies of representation?
Besides serving as a major generator of revenue in the world economy and as a source of income for local and indigenous communities, tourism has become a venue for significant intercultural contact. Such contacts have often served to perpetuate power relations inherent in colonialism and Orientalist understandings, but they may also establish relations of intimacy, respect and mutuality. This panel examines the mediators of these spaces, specifically the tour guide. What is the position of tour guides in this process? How do they foster or stage this engagement? As cultural mediators, cosmopolitans, leaders, father figures and pathfinders, the tour guide negotiates a complex terrain of physical mobility and virtual and existential imagination. How do they overcome the economic, psychological, social or linguistic disjuncts between guests and hosts? How do their performances negotiate the economic and political interests of states, tour operators, and the guides themselves? How do recent developments in technologies and techniques of representation - from simple 'schtick' and microphone use to sophisticated use of electronic media, from company branding to indigenous self-advertising - play out in the contact zone? And what is the impact of the tour guide's actions and (auto-)representations on the visitor, the visited and themselves? The anthropological shift in conceptualizing the tourism encounter from one of host and guest to a focus on the mediators of tourism develops our understanding of the tourism frontier area. This panel welcomes further scrutiny, be it structural, visual and technological, reflexive, legal and political, sociocultural, economic or sensual.