Ideal for field school participants seeking to conduct tourism ethnography on issues and questions related to heritage, politics of identity, practices and discourse of Maya civilization; tourism development, sustainable community, community tourism, tourism service learning; tourist consumption of difference, tourist rituals and community creation, tourist experiences, motivations, desires, understandings; local strategies of using tourism for economic mobility and livelihood, creating identities and lifestyles
OSEA Ethnography Field School participants design and conduct research in one of three ethnographic research areas:
♦ Tourism Ethnography ♦ Emergent Cultures / Maya Cosmopolitanism ♦ Health, Healing & Belief
Sustainable Community Tourism Research Project
This research project is an ethnographic investigation of sustainable community tourism in the context of increasing state-governmental control of and transnational private sector investment in the local tourism economy. Specifically, this is a study of how community members of Piste can develop tourism in new and alternative ways that maximize their own individual and collective benefits from tourism. Changes in the management and regulation of tourism over the last decade have restructured and restricted the historical involvment of community actors in the local tourism economy. These changes have worked to re-direct economic benefits from locals to to non-local investors and governmental agents. How can different social groups and sectors of local society take greater control of the tourism development in a way that sustains the flow of social, cultural and economic benefits for the community? The project is designed as action research in which participants investigate the perspectives of community members and tourists in order to begin collaborative work with them to create sustainable community tourism. This ongoing project is organized in research focusing on three sets of issues: Community Tourism Resources, Tourism Experience and Encounters, and Tourism Events and Performances.
This project is ideal for those participantts with weak Spanish proficiency. Participants can conduct research in tourism issues that
Three Core Areas of Sustainable Community Tourism Research
Participants in the Ethnography Field School choose one of three areas of investigation in which to work within the Sustainable Community Tourism Research. Participants then participate in an anthropology seminar that provides the basic understandings and contexts of tourism in the region to design research and an ethnogrphy methods workshop in which you are trained in the appropriate methods of research and analysis for your project.
1. Community Tourism Resources
Participant researchers use quantitative and qualititive methods to document and assess community capacity building in order to create sustainable tourism; students contribute community action research to applied and practical goals.
⇒ Research projects include team fieldwork to document infra-structural, business, and ecological resources.
⇒ Objectives prioritize census, surveys, and visual documentation of the community resources in order to create a high profile web presences on platforms such as Facebook and Google Maps.
2. Tourism Experience & Encounter
Participant researchers use quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate the meaning, value, and experience of living in and through tourism, not only as tourist but as tourism provider; students contribute to the anthropology of tourism research on
the way tourism becomes integrated into the everyday life of communities involved in tourism.
⇒ Research projects include individual and team fieldwork to interview, survey, and observe tourists and tourism workers at Chichen Itza and in Piste, for example tour guides and tour groups, heritage site workers, waiters, and venders.
⇒ Objectives prioritize surveying tourists about their experience and understanding of the Maya.
3. Tourism Events & Performances
Participant researchers use participant observation, interviewing, observation, and survey questionaires to document and analyze the everyday activites as expressions and modalities of tourism meanings; students contribute to the anthropology of intra-global cultural
dynamics and identity formation.
⇒ Research projects include participant observation fieldwork as individuals or in team with different groups of persons such as US missionaries and their local hosts, owners and overnight visitors of family run hostels/posadas, tourist audiences of traditional cultural performances and performers, handicraft venders and buyers.
⇒ Objectives prioritize community interactions with visitors in different settings such as annual missionary pilgrims from the US and interactions between locals and tourists in family run posadas.
Research Questions and Strategies
♦ First Strategy: Community Tourism Resources
First, what are the community resources and impediments, actual and potential, through which tourism can be developed so as to increase or minimize local control and benefits? This issue is investigated through projects of documentation and assesmeent of material and immaterial resources that range from urban infrastructure, disposal capital, existing business structure, and ecological attractions to local attitudes, expectations, and understandings of tourism/tourists. The documentation and assessment of these wide ranging cultural, socioeconomic and ecological resources allows for a greater understanding of the potential for capacity building for community controlled tourism and it allows for community members to be able to convert this knowledge into innovative tourism projects.
♦ Second Strategy: Tourism Experience & Encounter
Second, what is the lived experience of tourism understood analytically in terms of encounters, experiences, performance, social dynamics, cultural interactions, misunderstanding, mutual exoticism, consumption, and communicative styles? This issue is investigated using humanistic ethnographic methods of interviewing and participant observation as well as quantitative survey methods in a variety of settings in which tourists and tourism providers can be found engaging in tourism activities. Different types of student research projects are developed in order explore the crucial question of what is the meaning, value, and experience of living in and through tourism by being a tourist, working in tourism, or providing tourism products.
♦ Third Strategy: Tourism Events & Performances
Third, what and how are various activities in everyday life —
such as eating, sleeping, buying food, looking at piles of stones, walking about, talking with strangers, praying, going to a doctor, missionizing, trying to hook up, etc. — shaped into performances and practices that constitute the representation tourism as discourse and event? What are the modalities of tourism -- travel, adventure, heritage tourism, sex tourism, educational tourism, health-medical tourism, missionary work -- that occur in this sociocultural space of the community and how are these sites for the negotiation of class, gender, ethnic, cultural, age, and sexual identities of Self and Other? In the context of a community that has been receiving mass volume of international tourism for nearly fifty years, the question is how are everyday activities constituted as having the meaning and value of tourism, and of what type, and why? The study of this question in ethnographic contexts and situations provides a means to understand globalization as a local mode of negotiating cultural identities in contexts of mutual and reciprocal discourses of exoticism.
Research Topics and Issues Include:
⇒ Community Capacity Building
⇒ Tourism Infrastructure and Community Attitudes
⇒ Tourist Experience and Desires
⇒ Sustainable Resources
⇒ the Touristic Encounter as cultural communication and (mis) understanding
⇒ Living and Working in Tourism
⇒ Consumermism -- local and tourist styles of and objects of consumption
⇒ Eco and Adventure Tourism
⇒ Performance of Culture Exoticism
⇒ Missionary travel as tourism
For Information on Tourism Research Projects conducted by OSEA,
Visit MIRA the Multi-media Interdisciplinary Research in Anthropology