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Accepted Paper:

Front and back stages in Kenyan tourism  
Janna Perbix (University of Cologne)

Paper short abstract:

Tourism at the Kenyan coast mainly happens at the beautiful beaches and inside the resorts but tourists are striving for a sense of authenticity which they suspect to find in the villages. In my paper, I will look behind the scenes and show how people resist the commodification of everyday life.

Paper long abstract:

While tourists are offered a round-the-clock entertainment, sports and catering program in the hotels, many travellers wish to gain an insight into the everyday life of the population and to be able to gather authentic experiences in exchange with the locals. This demand is met by so-called bush or village tours, which take visitors on a guided tour from orphanage to school to marketplace and the medicine man, before they are brought back to the hotel buffet, where they can tell other visitors about their authentic look behind the scenes. What they don't know is that this tour has been a performance, because the tourist's gaze means an obvious intrusion into people's lives. The people observed and the local tourism entrepreneurs construct artificial settings, which they present like reality and thus can be called 'staged authenticity'. A stage that pretends not to be one, but to be backstage.

It is not uncommon for beach workers to give tourists this behind-the-scenes glimpse, and they decide which secrets will be revealed and which will remain secret. In my paper, I want to address the commercialization and touristification of the everyday life and practices of resistance against it, and show how Kenyan beach workers have created a protected space for themselves using the example of palm wine pubs. To do so I will use data that I collected during field research in Kenya.

Panel Anth23
Tourism and the future - performances, expectations and resistance
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -