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Scorn or Idealization? Tourism Imaginaries, Exoticization and Ambivalence in Emberá Indigenous Tourism

Theodossopoulos, Dimitrios (2014) Scorn or Idealization? Tourism Imaginaries, Exoticization and Ambivalence in Emberá Indigenous Tourism. In: Salazar, Noel and Graburn, Nelson, eds. Tourism Imaginaries: Anthropological Approaches. Berghahn, Oxford, pp. 57-79. ISBN 978-1-78238-367-3 $95.00/£60.00. E-ISBN 978-1-78238-368-0. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:50891)

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Scorn and idealization represent two dominant orientations in the exoticiza- tion of indigenous communities that host tourists. These two orientations also appear as dominant tropes in the tourism imaginary, shaping the negotiation of expectations during the tourism encounter. In this chapter, I argue that these two types of exoticization often coexist in parallel in the tourist imagination, producing contradictions that set in motion the imagination of local hosts. The host communities gradually develop their own versions of exoticization, as they categorize and stereotype the tourists. Thus, at any given moment, parallel layers of exotization participate and inspire any given tourism imaginary. This realization can help us escape from a limiting vision of indigenous hosts as passive recipients of tourism imagination; it can also help us ap- preciate the agency of hosts in renegotiating their self-identity during the tourism encounter. In this chapter, I explore these propositions in the context of Emberá indigenous tourism. I use as a case study the development of tourism in Parara Puru, an Emberá community in the Chagres National Park in Panama. Tourism has provided the Emberá with opportunities to investigate the expectations of their guests and, in an effort to satisfy those expectations, respond to contradictory types of exoticization. These range from idealization, an attitude that reflects nostalgia for the idealized “vanishing savage” and lost worlds unaffected by (Western) civilizing processes, to scorn, irony, and negative stereotyping, an attitude to which I refer as an “unintentional primitivization.”

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Eroticisation, the anthropology of tourism, tourism imaginaries, Emberá.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Dimitrios Theodossopoulos
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2015 22:39 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 10:59 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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