Author:Michael Di Giovine (West Chester University)
Paper short abstract:
Based on ethnographic research, this paper interrogates the experiential efficacy of short-term tourist travel to “slow food” destinations, making particular links to the ways in which such travel resembles traditional RRA, or “rapid rural appraisal” ethnographic research in the development community.
Paper long abstract:
Based on ethnographic research in Italy, Southeast Asia, and the United States, this paper interrogates the experiential efficacy of short-term tourist travel to "slow food" destinations, making particular links to the ways in which such travel resembles traditional RRA, or "rapid rural appraisal" ethnographic research in the development community. Coined by Italian Carlo Petrini in 1986 as an alternative to "fast food," the "slow food" movement ideologically embraces local (or, in Italy, called "zero-kilometer") foodways, the cultural pleasure in savoring extended gastronomic experiences, and more sustainable cultivation and consumption practices. Ironically, "slow food" has become the object of numerous short-term culinary tours, in which travelers are given a "taste", or sampling, of the outcome of slow food processes. This paper, however, asks whether the form of travel (a fast, or rapid engagement with a destination) can be effective when the object of travel is ideologically and diametrically opposed to it. In theorizing this, the author makes recourse to different ethnographic methodologies, particularly RRA or "rapid rural appraisal", a quick qualitative method innovated by development practitioners in the 1970s, in which researchers pinpoint key cultural experiences and culture brokers to quickly learn from locals about their current realities and challenges. In doing so, it questions how sustainable such soft-ethnographic practices can be by revealing the parallel challenges and opportunities that intense, short-term participation in cultural activities such as communal, commensal feasting provide in giving people a "taste of place."
Slow travelling: a precious heritage or a sustainable strategy for future mobilities? [ANTHROMOB & IUAES-Tourism]