Many towns in the United States are embracing heritage tourism in order to stimulate economic growth and enhance quality of life, hoping to attract new business and industry. Communities seek anthropologists' services as consultants on heritage tourism development projects; however, critics within our discipline have voiced doubts about the intellectual and ethical integrity of such work. This paper reviews literature on sociocultural impacts of tourism, focusing on work that raises concerns about spurious cultural representations that result when the tourism industry or entrepreneurs within host societies appropriate heritage and commoditize it for tourist consumption. Critics accuse anthropologists and other specialists in cultural heritage conservation of staging inauthentic events and inventing spurious cultural traditions that undermine rather than sustain the vitality of genuine cultural expression. This critique is presented and challenged. Cultural heritage conservation projects in the United States, typically funded through state humanities council grants, require both citizen participation and scholarly involvement. The goals, organization, and role demands of such projects can be problematic for anthropologists and other cultural specialists. This discussion highlights the special difficulties encountered when projects are part of planning for cultural tourism and suggests modest changes in humanities council policy that would place cultural specialists in a more tenable position vis-a-vis citizen participants. Anthropologists who accept the challenges of this work experience issues of social interaction and cultural representation in a praxis that can both focus needed attention on the content and meaning of cultural representations in tourism planning and, at the same time, enrich our discipline.
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Tourism| February 05 2008
Weighing the Risks and Rewards of Involvement in Cultural Conservation and Heritage Tourism
Human Organization (1994) 53 (2): 150–159.
Benita Howell; Weighing the Risks and Rewards of Involvement in Cultural Conservation and Heritage Tourism. Human Organization 1 June 1994; 53 (2): 150–159. doi: https://doi.org/10.17730/humo.53.2.l450153724976107
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