Anthropology of Tourism

Discipline: Anthropology
Instructor: Ehlers
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1425
End: 1540
Field Work: Day 1 - Wednesday, 24 September | Ireland Download Syllabus

This class utilizes an anthropological approach to the study of the impact of tourism on cultures and societies of the world with particular emphasis on the countries we will be visiting on the voyage. The class is based upon the study of the newest social scientific literature on tourism, as well as a wealth of case-specific data documenting the cultural, social, and environmental costs of hosting a tourist industry.  We will examine the shifting cultural values and social relations that occur as host meets guest, and cultures become commodities to be offered for a price.  Although the class emerges from concern for tourism’s impact on local populations and cultures, to be sure, our approach is not entirely critical.  In some cases tourism has caused assimilated indigenous cultures to revitalize their ancient traditions to meet the tourist market.  Similarly, our discussion also includes analysis of the growing popularity of the eco-tourist industry as a model of sustainable Third World development.  We take this topic a step farther as we examine the compatibility of “responsible tourism” with sustainable development goals.

Semester at Sea will be a laboratory for the application of what we learn in this class. Assignments will focus on data gathering and analysis in destination countries and among other “tourists” aboard ship. In a final analysis of the tourist experience, students will design an alternative tourist plan of action.  The project should analyze the development prospects, economic problems, and cultural pitfalls of tourism particular to that part of the world.  At the same time, the plan should incorporate responsible alternative tourism, and suggest how far that approach might go towards alleviating some of these obstacles.

Field Work

Country: Ireland
Day: 1 - Wednesday, 24 September

This Dublin Field Lab offers Tracy Ehlers’ Anthropology of Tourism class an alternative approach to being an tourist in Ireland. We will spend the day with a noted Irish storyteller, Philip Byrne, who will take us to a variety of places where storytelling will enhance the experience. We begin with Glenalough, ‘the valley of the two lakes‘ for its spectacular scenery, rich history, archaeology and abundant wildlife. Glendalough is a 6th century monastic site and lends itself to both outdoor activities and active storytelling. After lunch we visit Wicklaw Gaol, a prison that mirrors the fight for independence, and is said to be the most haunted place in Ireland. Academic Objectives: 1. Appreciate the art of Irish Storytelling 2. Understand the benefits of linking history and oral narrative 3. Engage in tourism on an intimate and participatory manner