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Chambers, Erve (ed.). Tourism and Culture: An Applied Perspective. Albany: State University Press of New York, 1997 (221 pp.). The "Applied" in the title here is an attempt to connect the discipline of anthropology to the tourism industry by examining the underlying cultural contexts within which tourism operates – and to look at the effects of tourism on different communities’ social markers. Not a few of the eleven essays also deal with the troubling political questions tourism presents concerning the inequities of wealth between the traveler and the host communities, especially in so-called "developing" nations just discovering the economic benefits of tourism. Most of the writers, all but one of them anthropologists, condemn tourism-related activities that exacerbate economic disparities, blur cultural identity, and lead to tourism-dependent economies; but most of the authors do not argue that such hegemonic consequences are inevitable. The essays offer several examples where tourism works for the local community (a Cherokee arts and crafts project in North Carolina), as well as others where tourism has served only international corporations or the local elite, at the same time it has demeaned and threatened the very lifestyles of poorer, indigenous peoples (Kalahari Bushmen). The common message throughout these examples is that tourism creates more sustainable economies, cultural maintenance, and local acceptance in those places where residents are involved in the planning, design, and implementation of the tourism product (to the point they also share equally in the benefits). The editor’s introduction provides a solid rationale for an anthropological approach to tourism, in that it is one of the few industries where people of so many backgrounds come together, as well as the fact that tourism can bring about extreme cultural changes. Also, his penultimate chapter makes a strong case for teaching the social and environmental consequences of tourism – as well as sustainable tourism itself – to students of the travel industry, who often receive little more than vocational training so they can work in large-scale service industries. What is particularly helpful in this volume is that each essay focuses on its own case study (about half from the U.S.), providing examples, good and bad, of how the tourism industry and locals do or do not rise to the challenge of presenting their culture in a way that benefits residents, as well as travelers and the industry that brought them.


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