Reviewer Natalia Bloch | Review

#344 Not-so-empty meeting grounds. Encounters across difference in the informal tourism sector in India

Coresponding author's contact details

First name Natalia Middle name Last name Bloch
Title Associate Professor Organization / Institution Adam Mickiewicz University Department Institute of Anthropology and Ethnology
Address Uniwersytetu Poznańskiego 7 Postal / Zip code 61-614 Country PL
E-Mail Hidden Phone number Hidden Presenting author Yes

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Abstract title

Not-so-empty meeting grounds. Encounters across difference in the informal tourism sector in India

Abstract text

Kristin Lozanski, in her paper “Defining ‘Real India’: Representations of Authenticity in Independent Travel” (2010), argues that the natives whom tourists want to “befriend” cannot be just any natives – relationship with tourism service providers will be seen as commercial and thus “unauthentic”. As a result tourism workers become “invisible” to tourists, because “their invisibility is (…) critical to maintaining the semblance of non-commodification” (2010: 754–55). My fieldwork, conducted in the informal tourism sector in India, did not however confirm these observations. My research partners who offer goods and services to tourists were very successful in building meaningful relationships with them, despite the service provider–customer framework. Secondly, according to Lozanski, it is not only tourism workers who do not satisfy the tourist desire for authenticity, but also those locals who resemble the tourists too much in terms of class, mobility, and cosmopolitanism. Also this claim was not confirmed by my research. The high level of intercultural competence of tourism workers and their cosmopolitism arose from “travelling-in-dwelling” (Clifford 1992) did not affect their authenticity in the eyes of tourists, but rather facilitated the establishment of interpersonal relations. In this paper I want to focus on structural conditions which need to be met in order to let encounters "across difference" (Tsing 2005) happen. I argue that it is particularly the framework of the informal tourism sector that creates heterogeneous, open-ended tourist spaces and provides relatively broad, democratic access to them, allowing for development of unmediated relations and the possibilities they bear.

Conference topic

Panel no. 71 - Encounters Across Difference: Moving Beyond Dark Anthropology

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Abstract Review

This abstract was reviewed on 2021-01-02 19:08h by Natalia Bloch

Reviewer decision