"Tourism, Archaeology, and Development"
Session Organizer: Rachel Faye Giraudo (University of California, Berkeley)
Session Abstract for the American Anthropological Association 108th Annual Meeting, December 2-6, 2009, Philadelphia, PA
Archaeological practices such as excavation, conservation, and interpretation all contribute to the establishment of potential tourist destinations in the forms of museums, interpretive centers, and archaeological reconstructions. As tourists begin arriving at sites of archaeological value and hospitality infrastructure expands, these places then become part of local and regional political economies. Thus archaeology is part of the development process. While considerable scholarly attention has been paid to archaeology’s involvement in nation building and in colonialist and imperialist agendas within the wider discourse of the socio-politics of archaeology, the papers of this session will more closely examine the role of tourism, archaeology, and development.
“Archaeo-tourism,” which fits within the heritage tourism sector, attracts tourists who seek authenticity from archaeological artifacts and sites, and who possess nostalgia for the past. These tourists are interested in personal interactions with a material past and its aura, which they gain through visits to places of archaeological value. Archaeologists and heritage managers help create these sites of cultural consumption of the ‘authentic’ through their professional practices and publications, and through the promotion of public archaeology. Certain archaeological sites also engender romanticized yearnings within tourists for a more familiar past, or a past to which tourists feel connected. Hence archaeology is also implicated in the project of modernity through tourism.
Archaeology is development and it therefore encourages an influx of resources, roads, and communications into areas where archaeologists, conservationists, and heritage professionals work. Often the most extraordinary examples of archaeology as development are in low-income regions or in underdeveloped countries. Local governments, NGOs, and international organizations encourage sustainable development through tourism in these more impoverished areas, and sites of archaeological value are transformed into income-generating commodities. Likewise, the economic benefit tourism provides is also perceived to be the main incentive for local communities and nation-states to conserve and protect their archaeological resources.
Tourism is the largest-growing industry in the world, and archaeology is one of its niches. The papers in this session investigate the key issues surrounding archaeo-tourism, such as cultural consumption, authenticity and nostalgia, archaeology and political economies, sustainable development, disciplinary ethics, and the impacts of archaeological practices on neighboring communities.
If you are interested in presenting a paper in this panel, please send a paper abstract of up to 250 words to the session organizer by March 24, 2009.
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