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Horizontes Antropológicos

Print version ISSN 0104-7183

Horiz.antropol. vol.1 Porto Alegre  2006


Tourism and ethnicity


Turismo e etnicidade



Rodrigo de Azeredo Grünewald

The Federal University in Campina Grande – Brazil

Translated by Alberto Sanchez Allred
Translation from Horizontes Antropológicos, Porto Alegre, v.9, n.20, p.141-159, Oct. 2003.




One of the most significant issues confronting studies in the anthropology of tourism is that of cultural change precipitated in host societies as a result of an influx of tourists. Many times those changes are accompanied by a reorganization of the host population along ethnic lines, that is, by the creation of tourism- oriented-ethnicities. This article's purpose is to examine the relationship between tourism and ethnicity in theoretical terms and to contribute to a better academic understanding of ethnic tourism.

Keywords: cultural change, ethnic tourism, ethnicity, touristic community.


Um dos aspectos mais significativos que marcam os estudos em antropologia do turismo é o da mudança cultural percebida em sociedades hospedeiras em conseqüência do impacto de um fluxo turístico. Muitas vezes essas mudanças são acompanhadas de uma reorganização da população hospedeira em linhas étnicas, ou seja, com o estabelecimento de etnicidades orientadas para o turismo. O artigo pretende examinar as relações entre turismo e etnicidade em termos teóricos e tentar promover uma melhor compreensão do turismo étnico para o meio acadêmico.

Palavras-chave: comunidade turística, etnicidade, mudança cultural, turismo étnico.



Tourism marks that movement of people on vacation in places different from an origin whether that be their home, city, or country. It refers generally to the visiting of places where the most varied of practical and/or personal none-work activities take place. The word denotes everything from gazing at a monument in one's own city, to touring unfamiliar places in foreign countries. Some definitions emphasize the practice itself, while others focus on the structural form the phenomena assumes. I think, however, that both aspects – considering their symbolic, subjective, and even phenomenological dimensions – should characterize tourism by the degree that people at different times feel, or not, as tourists.

Even though leisure and travel could be considered "cultural universals" (Murdock et al., 1982) and serve as the basis for a definition of tourism, the origins of the term merit historical investigation. If some authors locate the emergence of tourism during the period of European colonial expansion, others look to the pilgrimages and migrations of the 18th and 19th centuries. The truth is that tourism did not appear in the Western world, on a large scale, until the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Moreover, tourism is only to be found, as such, in relation to high economic productivity, particularly as a phenomena growing out of industrial societies. And it is only with the socioeconomic transformations following World War II that it became a mode of mass consumption (Pi-Sunyer, 1989, p. 191).

Since that time the scale and relevance of tourism has only been expanding, to the point that today 600 million people move yearly between one country and another (Banducci Jr.; Barretto, 2001) an activity that generated nearly 450 billion dollars in 1998 (Grünewald, 2001). But even more importantly are the innumerable concrete manifestations of tourism, which have been categorized, circumscribing specific thematic issues-objects within the scope of this extensive phenomenon.

In the social sciences, it was during the sixties and seventies1 that tourism began to figure as an object of research and a significant amount of work began to be done around the topic. Of particular importance was the work of Boorstin (1964), in which tourism appeared as simulacrum. In anthropology, it is also in the sixties that research on the topic begins to emerge. There is the pivotal article by Nuñez (1963), for example, concerning weekend tourism in a Mexican village (Nash, 1996). Research along these lines gained in analytic power and systematicity during the following decade. The focus of these early studies was principally on small communities and the social interactions between tourists and hosts. Over the years, other varied objects began to suggest themselves to researchers, and they were dealt with by the same methods and theories common to urban, rural, the anthropology of ethnic groups, as well as more general anthropological theory.

In all, tourism is a very complex phenomenon, not only because it is one of the largest industries in the world, if not the largest, but even more because of the enormous diversity of programs and objectives, further complicated by the subjective aspects that permeate all relevant relationships in all their multiple facets. The anthropology of tourism does not have a homogenous approach, but rather contains within itself a great internal diversity deriving from the way that it constructs itself with respect to a myriad of thematic objects. There are studies in religious tourism, tourism and social change, tourism and the commoditization of culture, tourism and globalization, summer vacationing, tourism and leisure, ecotourism, cultural mediators in the tourist industry, social impacts of tourism, tourism and crafts, and tourism and ethnicity, among others. And beyond this, tourism is not only an object for academic debate, but one of particular importance to applied and practical anthropology (Chambers, 1997; Nash, 1996), especially as it relates to tourism and sustainable development (Sofield, 2003).

Within all this complexity, I would like to highlight an apparent paradox with respect to the search, by tourists, for the touristic object. Today, at the dawn of the century in which the tourism of outer space begins, there is an ever increasing demand to search out societies in all corners of the globe. I say an apparent paradox because what is constructed as the focus of tourism has since the beginning been that which is different, exotic, or other. The touristic experience (Grünewald, 2001) as an experience of the other seems to me of extreme relevance for anthropology, including applied anthropology, to the degree that it appears at the core of a configuration which provides a valuable economic alternative to touristic communities and a means of cultural revitalization for those populations which many times find themselves in a period of undesired decline in terms of cultural production in the face of problems imposed by global capitalism. It is a question of "cultural development" that, according to Ryan (2002), should continue to be carefully analyzed with respect to authenticity, since it is authenticity which is of great importance for both the native subjects and tourists.

This is not the same perspective that emerged together with the anthropology of tourism, when the ideas of "the impacts of tourism" and of "touristic development" began to receive attention not only from the social sciences and economics but also from the entrepreneurs themselves that applied political, economic and even symbolic capital in certain societies. Changes occur in these societies, changes that are not simply economic but cultural. Many times these changes were conceived in terms of the large scale acculturation that would occur as an effect of tourism, that is, the development of tourism would lead to the abandonment of traditional and independent modes of life by natives in order for them to participate in local businesses that would sprout up by the "multiplier effect" (Smith, 1989) of touristic development.

A more productive perspective that began to be adopted in the seventies, asserts that the ethnicity of certain populations is strengthened by the reinforcement of specific traditions (for the case of ethnic art see Graburn, 1976a) that themselves in turn serve as touristic lures. This is a perspective that continues to be common among those that work in developing local tourism. If the exotic, or other, is sought after in places other than those from where the visitor originates, the inhabitants of those places, according to this perspective, must promote themselves as the sought-after-exotic in a way that makes them attractive in the worldwide touristic market. They need to have distinguishing visible features in order to be attractive for sale in that vast market. The construction, promotion, or strengthening of distinguishing features that characterize and define culturally a people, is the very stuff of what ethnicity is made of. But it is important to note that this ethnicity is not exactly the same as a more classical colonial ethnicity. In other words, I am not here referring only to natives, but rather to the various ways that boundaries are built between social groups in a manner that come to be defined as ethnic. According to Hall (1991a, 1991b), what is in question is no longer ethnicities mobilized against imperial colonialism, but rather "new ethnicities" that, without negating those first alignments, emerge in a fragmented form, are divided internally, and in many cases are not able to operate as a totality. What is being dealt with are local movements of emerging new social subjects, new ethnicities, new communities in subaltern positions that attempt to speak for themselves against an anonymous and impersonal world of globalized forces acting within the diversity of the postmodern globe. Ethnicity, then, would delimit that necessary space from which people speak.


Ethnicity and tourism

Ethnicities result from social processes, positive tendencies toward identifying and including certain individuals in a specific group. What distinguishes an ethnic identity is the way that its characterization recurs to notions of common origin, history, culture, and even race. Originally, there were two principle theoretical approaches for defining ethnic groups: one which was essentialist to the degree that it looked to the substance of cultural and historical patrimony of certain populations in order to discover the root of ethnic exceptionality, and another more constructivist that focused on social interactions between groups themselves, noting the boundaries that in effect divided or bounded ethnic groups whether or not they in fact shared cultural or racial traits with their neighbors. The second of these approaches became favored. However, it should be noted that if anthropology now focuses on the social interactions that in effect create ethnic boundaries for members of different groups, ethnic discourse emphasizes, in the majority of cases, content, that is, origin, history, culture or race, whether these have been constructed as objects for discourse in the present for self-representation or for the representation of others.

It is thus important to underline the instrumentality of every cultural trait exhibited by an ethnic group as a distinguishing feature, that is, as a characteristic cultural and historical trait that defines them in opposition to other groups. It is important for ethnic groups to carry such marks to the point that if they do not have them many times they will create them in order to strengthen their ethnic distinction. Generally speaking, those cultural elements are thought of, treated and effected as traditions, the notion of which indicates the constitutive substance of a people, which in practice can be constructed situationally even with respect to the future (Grünewald, 2001, 2002b).

But how does ethnicity relate to tourism? Even though there are innumerable forms of tourism that have nothing to do with questions of history, culture (strictly speaking), race, or origin, as for example some kinds of recreational tourism, there are other forms that take up as desired object aspects of identity or alterity. In the case of identity there is, for example, the historical tourism that one would do in his or her own town, city, region or country, and in the case of alterity there are those forms that seek out the exotic or foreign cultures. Van den Berghe (1994) has maintained that tourism is always a form of ethnic relations, and that would be doubly true, according to van den Berghe and Keyes (1984), in the case of so-called ethnic tourism, where the ethnic boundary itself sponsors the touristic attraction. Let's explore a little more this subject which constitutes the center of our concern here.


Ethnic Tourism

If anthropologists first began to consider tourism because it encroached on the societies they studied and provoked change within them (Nash, 1996, p. 20), increasingly it was observed that tourism had an effect even on the way that the ethnic identities of those populations were performed. Along these lines, I believe that Graburn (1976b) proved to be a pioneer by elaborating a series of presuppositions concerning identity and ethnic art with relation to tourism, a project enriched by a collection (Graburn, 1976a) of case studies organized regionally. Graburn conceives ethnicity as a constructed identity in a plural world where communication, education, and travel appear as fundamental for gaining knowledge of and access to others. Given such a situation, "threatened identities" many times can seek a revival of their traditions, a reinforcing of a sense of identity, which in many cases can function by uniting people through the recalling of a past more glorious than the present. Graburn demonstrates that "archaisms" can be configured as a variant of "ethnic compression" in a deliberate attempt to imitate or even relive the style of a previous period, whether recent or remote, of one's own culture "or even the resurrection of the features of some other prestigious society" (Graburn, 1976a, p. 25). For him:

symbols of identity may be borrowed, stolen, or even exchanged. Groups may wish to enhance their prestige in their own or other's eyes by taking on the materials, symbols, and regalia of other groups – almost as though a magic power could rub off by imitation; [...] Indeed, it would be difficult to pick any culture or subgroup whose cultural symbols were totally of their own creation or from their own history. Furthermore, such "borrowed" identities are often useful or functional in a world where old groups are degraded or new categories and ethnicities are being created." (Graburn, 1976a, p. 27-28)

With respect to these identities, Graburn points to the possibility of us appreciating them as being in constant change with respect to a global context of continual interactions among social groups. And it is precisely when approaching the problem of cultural change, having already privileged an analysis which conceives of groups as dynamic entities that recreate themselves by objectifying their interactions with tourists, that the issue of ethnicity, identity, or generally speaking ethnic tourism enters stage center. However, it should be noted that we are dealing here with a form of ethnicity not generalizable to all interethnic contexts, but rather those that have a certain specific connection with the global system and transnational cultural flows.

Succinctly put, MacCannell (1992c) uses the term "constructed ethnicity" with reference to the various ethnic identities that emerged in opposition to colonialism. However, "constructed ethnicity" is but a "conceptual springboard to a more complex phenomenon":

The global diffusion of White Culture, internal colonization, and the institutions of modern mass tourism are producing new and more highly deterministic ethnic forms than those produced during the first colonial phase. The focus is on a type of ethnicity-for-tourism in which exotic cultures figure as key attractions: where the tourists go to see folk costumes in daily use, shop for folk handicrafts in authentic bazaars, stay on the alert for a typical form of nose, lips, breast, and so on, learn some local norms for comportment, and perhaps learn some of the language... The concern here is not with the often bizarre results of the tourists' efforts to 'go native'. Rather, it is with the natives' efforts to satisfy the touristic demand, or to go-native-for-tourists." (MacCannell, 1992c, p. 158-159).

These new forms of ethnicity requires a methodological reorientation to the degree that unlike the typical interactions of classical colonialism, tourism promotes the restoration, preservation, and recreation of ethnic attributes. In that way, a "reconstructed ethnicity", those made-for-tourist identities that emerge in response to the pressures placed on them by "White Culture" and tourism itself, result in the maintenance and preservation of ethnic elements serving for persuasion or entertainment of, not a specific other as in the case of a constructed ethnicity, but rather for "a general other". Although still dependent on former strategies of ethnic identity, reconstructed ethnic forms are appearing as a more or less automatic response in all those groups that enter into the global network of commercial transactions. In that way, more than simply serving as rhetorical weapons, cultural elements can be resignified as commodities, that is, as a form of symbolic expression with a function or exchange value in a larger system (MacCannell, 1992c, p. 168).

In such a context, the category ethnic tourism gains relevance. Van den Berghe and Keyes (1984) remind us that:

Part of the exoticism sought by the increasing tourist hordes is inherent in the ethnic boundary that separates tourist from native. Tourism necessarily involves contact with natives across a cultural barrier. This is true even in situations where the tourist does not actively seek ethnic exoticism, and is primarily interested in landscape, archaeological monuments, or whatever. (van den Berghe; Keyes, 1984, p. 345).

However, when an "ethnic exoticism2 is sought, then a distinct form of tourism can be identified – 'ethnic tourism.' In ethnic tourism, the native is not simply 'there' to serve the needs of the tourist, he is himself 'on show,' a living spectacle to be scrutinized, photographed..." (van den Berghe; Keyes, 1984, p. 345). For these authors, moreover, the question of authenticity should be emphasized when considering ethnic tourism, since the very "search for the exotic is self-defeating because of the overwhelming influence of the observer on the observed." (van den Berghe; Keyes, 1984, p. 345). The tourist does not want to see what these authors call tourees, that is, someone who modifies their behavior in order to benefit from what they perceive would be attractive to the tourist. The ethnic tourist wants to see "intact natives", at the same time that their very presence already transforms the natives making them less exotic and "traditional", more similar to the tourists themselves, in fact, incentivizing them precisely to become tourees. These people, to the degree that they respond to the tourist, do business by preserving a believable illusion of authenticity. A touree "fakes his art, his dress, his music, his dancing, his religion, and so on, to satisfy the ethnic tourist's thirst for authenticity at the very same time that the tourist invasion assaults his culture and subjects it to the homogenizing process known as 'modernization.'" (van den Berghe; Keyes, 1984, p. 346). In that way, generally speaking the search for authenticity is frustrated by the very presence of the tourist, and for the ethnic tourist, tourism destroys the very thing that he or she desires to see, the intact native.

In the case of ethnic tourism then we have the following:

The touree is the native when he begins to interact with the tourist and modify his behavior accordingly. The touree is the native-turned-actor –whether consciously or unconsciously— while the tourist is the spectator. The middleman is the broker in ethnic exoticism who mediates and profits by the interaction of tourist and touree, and who, in the process, very frequently manipulates ethnicity for gain, stages "authenticity," peddles cultural values, and thus becomes an active agent in modifying the situation in which and from which he lives. (van den Berghe; Keyes, 1984, p. 347).

With all of this it can be seen how far ethnic tourism really is from cultural tourism, or that tourism which can be defined "in terms of situations where the role of culture is contextual, where its role is to shape the tourist's experience of a situation in general without a particular focus on the uniqueness of a specific cultural identity" (Wood, 1984, p. 361), a tourism that does not enlist ethnic groups that seek to produce an identity to be bought by tourists.

Ethnic tourism principally still occurs among people of the Fourth World3, in "regions of refuge" (Béltran, 1979 as cited in van den Berghe, 1994) now invaded by tourists that seek to rediscover natives still beyond the reach of colonialism or global capitalism – which does not mean to say that tourism does not itself effectively function as a new form of colonialism (Grünewald, 2002a). It is at this point that it becomes relevant to think about the cultural value of this kind of tourism to the degree that it appears to gain its value from how distant it is from that of the travelers'. This should not be interpreted as meaning that the culture being valued is the center of the natives' ethnicity, that the natives are necessarily interested in forging an ethnicity-for-tourists, or that ethnic tourism is advantageous for natives in all cases.

MacCannell maintains that ethnic tourism follows "existing structural paths" (MacCannell, 1992d, p. 174), and ones that do not always benefit the natives. In most cases, ethnic tourism results in expenditures only in such things as cameras, film, or the like, this being true even when the ethnic attraction is the only motive for the trip. All of this leads MacCannell to conclude that "the kinds of changes that are necessary to develop a community for ethnic tourism rarely improve the lives of its members as sometimes occurs in development for other forms of tourism" (MacCannell, 1992d, p. 175). For this author:

ethnic tourism is especially vulnerable to a form of social disorder. Touristified ethnic groups are often weakened by a history of exploitation [...], limited in resources and power, and they have no big buildings, machines, monuments, or natural wonders to deflect the tourists' attention away from the intimate details of their daily lives (MacCannell, 1992d, p. 175-176).

In this light, the case of some North American Indians becomes interesting since as Nagel (1996) has demonstrated they would prefer putting up casinos than interacting with tourists or promoting ethnic tourism, a case which only further supports the idea that ethnic tourism is an option in which the native must participate and does not simply arise only by means of an imposing visiting gaze.

But what can be said specifically with respect to the natives of those touristic villages? MacCannell suggests that ethnic attractions highlight the importance of an emerging self-consciousness and self-determination among an ethnic group, a need to correct the historical record, reminding visitors of past discrimination suffered by this particular "minority". He also points out, however, that what changes in the context of ethnic tourism is the rhetoric with regard to ethnic relations, creating the impression of progress, while the old forms of repression and exploitation are perpetuated beneath the surface. For him, it is in this way that the pseudochange functions, because when an ethnic group begins to sell, or is forced to sell, or is sold as an ethnic attraction, it ceases to develop spontaneously and its members begin to think "not as a people but as representatives of an authentic way of life. Suddenly, any change in lifestyle is no mere question of practical utility but a weighty matter which has economic and political implications for the entire group" (MacCannell, 1992d, p. 178).

But there are other questions that could be explored by turning to the production of ethnic tourisms as well as the broad subject of tourism and ethnicity. Wood (1997) already drew attention to the fact that there are multiple institutions mediating the relationship between tourism and ethnicity, and the State is the largest of them. Nagel (1996) highlights that since the State is dominant with respect to regulating ethnicity, it is important to not lose sight of the political construction of ethnicity, principally by means of official ethnic designations, and the distribution of resources via rules and structures of political access.

Picard and Wood (1997) have listed instances where tourism has helped nation-states in their objectives with respect to ethnic minorities living within their borders. This is possible because, among other demonstrated benefits, tourism as a whole can provide opportunities for representing cultural constructions of ethnic minorities that are compatible with those of the nation-state. Similarly, Jamison (1999) argues that tourism can attenuate conflicts in multi-ethnic communities.

Finally, Chambers (2000) has shown that the term ethnic tourism has been used to refer to activities that involve tourists in an experience of cultural events and situations that are different than those they are familiar with. With some examples he shows how a tourism focused on ethnicity provides interesting cases for how different markers and ethnic status symbols can be negotiated.

Generally speaking, then, I think that ethnic tourism can be understood using two distinct perspectives: one that looks to the object of tourism, and in this case, the native who is the focus of the trip; and another perspective that would take up ethnic tourism by what the tourist sees or finds during his or her visit. Perhaps it could be argued that every visit to another nation already presupposes ethnic tourism, however, what must occur for ethnic tourism to really exist is a movement to construct a specific ethnicity for exhibiting in the touristic sphere. The idea of tourism, in fact, seems to fall on the perspective of those who travel. If, however, the perspective was shifted to that of the native, it would be precisely the ethnicity exercised in the terms of a cultural production of traditions to be exhibited as distinctive features within the touristic ambit that would signify the ethnic character of the interaction. And this would be the case even if it occurred without the natives completely understanding it or without a formal plan for the development of tourism in their village.

But given the quantity of groups that can be considered ethnic, even those that simply present themselves as such, maybe we can look for a greater problematization of possible distinctions that can be established between ethnic communities and those created for tourism, and explore how they can be interwoven concretely (empirically) and theoretically. I am not here concerned only with the privileging of ethnic tourism and that which is interested in cultural patrimony (Barretoo, 2002) in order to identify better its borders or the way it is a simultaneous part of the most varied touristic situations, but also with a greater semantic precision with respect to some notions relating to this kind of tourism. I am, above all, of the opinion that being a touristified native and selling oneself in the touristic market does not signify a lack of authenticity. And it must be further asked, authenticity in the eyes of whom? At any rate, it would be good to ask some questions: is ethnicity aimed toward tourism is in reality ethnicity or should it be distinguished from it? Is to be a people for another a way to be for oneself, and in oneself? Are there ethnicities that ethnic communities call into play in the touristic sphere, or is it that the formation of ethnotouristic communities foments a touristic ethnicity that is essentially "false" (Wood, 1997)? Should the tourism industry judge that modern form of commercial ethnicity created for tourists as legitimate, since it is after all created to meet a demand created by the very phenomenon of tourism itself? And with respect to where ethnic tourism takes place, how can that which is proper to an ethnicity be distinguished from that which is elaborated for the benefit of the tourist? Is such a distinction even possible?


Ethnic Communities and Touristic Communities

MacCannell maintains that "modern mass tourism is based on two seemingly contradictory tendencies: the international homogenization of the culture of the tourists and the artificial preservation of local ethnic groups and attractions so that they can be consumed as tourist experiences" (MacCannell, 1992d, p. 176). Chose, then, the idea of a scene of empty encounters to highlight the place of visitation, where people live and tourists visit, a place that has been decorated to look like an ideal city of some kind. And what can be seen in those villages has been transformed for tourists into "a reification of the simple social virtues, or the ideal of 'village life', into 'something to see'." For MacCannell, the village is not destroyed, but its original function is changed and no longer based on human relations, but rather it serves as an element in the recreational experiences of a tourist coming from the outside. Ironically, for him, "the tourist is often seeking to experience a place where human relationships still seem to exist". The process, however, is "so developed" that tourism is now not only affecting real communities, but "producing pseudo-communities for touristic attention" (MacCannell, 1992d, p. 176). I believe that here the emphasis on "pseudocommunities" should be changed for one on touristic communities, which further can be juxtaposed to ethnic communities within a given social space or territory.

In order to think about ethnic communities, I believe that the best thing would be to return to the now classical position taken by Weber (1991) for whom the community is understood in the way that it is felt subjectively by its members as a shared defining feature, and in the way it is enacted according to beliefs, such as, for example, the belief in kinship or common origin, and those that follow from these, or in the establishment of well defined borders. This position is in consonance not only with the work of Barth (1969) but also that of Gluckman (1987) for whom, according to Oliviera (1988), the notion of community "does not presuppose well-defined spatial limits, nor a unit in terms of orienting cultural codes, but simply that determined patterns of interaction and everyday behavior be shared among individuals with respect to each other" (Oliveira, 1988, p. 39).4

In the moment that the focus of investigation becomes an "ethnic boundary that defines the group" and not a "cultural substance that is contained within it" (Barth, 1969) the group should be seen at that moment as a form of social organization, where it matters less the attributed cultural outline than the fact that culture is being self-attributed and attributed by others, i.e. attention comes to fall on a group of members that identify themselves and are identified by others as a distinct population. Still with respect to interethnic relations, I would like to point out that not only the interactions themselves are a factor generating culture and the boundaries circumscribing each group, but that contact with the outside is also constitutive of the structure of a group. A community, however, is also a symbolic construct. For Cohen (1985):

culture – the community as experienced by its members –does not consist in social structure or in 'the doing' of social behavior. It inheres, rather, in 'the thinking' about it. It is in this sense that we can speak of the community as a symbolic, rather than a structural, construct. In seeking to understand the phenomenon of community we have to regard its constituent social relations as repositories of meaning for its members, not as a set of mechanical linkages (Cohen, 1985, p. 98).

From a different perspective, Bourdieu (1989b) asserts with respect to ethnic groups and their constitution, that agents and groups of agents are determined by their relative position in the "social field". Given the former, the objective of the researcher must be to dispute for the privilege of imposing a vision of things, and embedded in this struggle for imposing a legitimate vision of the world are the struggles of ethnic identity, it is the ambit of ethnicity, or ethnicity itself. And it is in this way that the institutionalization of an ethnic group arises, in other words, through the "struggles for the monopoly over making visible and convincing, revealing and making recognizable, of imposing a legitimate definition of social divisions in the world, and in such a way to make and unmake groups" (Bourdieu, 1989a, p. 113)5. Because of this, a naturalized notion of the boundaries of an ethnic group should be avoided once it has passed through a political process of legitimation, when the group has come to have a known and recognizable existence within a broader social terrain.

But the point to which I want to arrive is that it seems to me that even when an ethnicity changes in the face of tourism, that does not mean to say that the limits of the ethnic community are coterminous with those of the touristic sphere (that is, the social field where interactions generated by tourism take place), where native actors enact themselves and with which they in fact identify and form themselves into a community, which I am calling touristic. In other words, not all natives of an ethnic community are engaged in an ethnicity-for-tourism, but those who are end up forming an additional community, a touristified one. This community since it constitutes and represents itself along ethnic lines can be called an ethnotouristic community. There is an ethnicity to be found there and the ethnic identity that is constructed on that stage is also legitimate and authentic to the degree that tourism is also authentic and legitimate in those social spaces. That is what is most appropriately called ethnic tourism, because the wanting to get away from appearances and to penetrate the profundity of native life is a pursuit best left to anthropologist, and not tourists.

Beyond that, the arena of tourism can be utilized quite effectively for the discursive positioning of ethnic communities in a globalize world. Those communities finish many times making the arena of tourism the point from which they find a voice for themselves with which to speak to the world, a postmodern world that increasingly needs the primitive as a strategic contrapuntal.

But what about the incorporation of natives, in terms of their "acculturation"/ethnicity, in the arenas under consideration? I believe that tourists should know ahead of time that they will encounter in the village what we have called touree and that MacCannell (1992a) called "ex-primitives". These can be approached from two directions: "recently acculturated peoples lost in the industrial world, and another kind of ex-primitive, still going under the label 'primitive', a kind of performative 'primitive'" (MacCannell, 1992a, p. 26). What is in question is a space created in a postmodern world, that permits "acculturated" Indians to avoid daily work in factories or plantations by the "institutionalization of primitive performance-for-the-others", what results in "a simple hybrid cultural form" (MacCannell, 1992a, p. 19). The term "primitive", for this author, arises simply as a growing response to a "mythical need" to maintain the idea of the primitive alive in the world and in modern consciousness, and it remains alive because there exists various empires constructed upon the necessity of the "primitive"6. Postmodernity in that sense is based on a principle opposite that of assimilation. "Traditional peoples, including ex-primitives, especially those who have adopted tourism as their way of getting a living, now have the option of basing their economic advancement on making a show of their distinctive qualities, their cultural uniqueness" (MacCannell, 1992b, p. 101).

I believe, then, that the members of ethnic communities can adopt touristic activities, forming together with other members of the ethnic community, and others outside of it, touristic communities that exist concretely and whose borders can be broader even than the touristic arena in which the touristic experience takes place, and the ethnic community. But if there is an ethnicity that is elaborated in that arena aimed at touristic resources, there then is an experience of ethnic tourism. The members of the ethnic community involved in that process and all those not belonging to the community but who are involved in promoting ethnic tourism, form together the ethnotouristic community. All those spheres are authentic and legitimate in their specificity. Even more, I believe that recurring to terms such as illusory, virtual, false, inauthentic, pseudo, simulacrum, etc. in order to refer to ethnotouristic experiences in these arenas is inadequate and obstructs the concentration of intellectual effort on that which should remain its focus, namely touristic practice developed in complicity between actors and spectators. We find ourselves before three spheres that are juxtaposed and enter into relation with each other in the same social space, which we have here termed the touristic arena. Finally, in methodological terms, I believe that research should focus on any one of these four spheres, one of the three communities or the arena, seen as concrete experiences, examples of human activity with tendencies and specific contributions, and not rejected as a hall or passage to that which is impure and polluted.


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1 Even though the sociologist Veblen wrote his work on leisure, social class, and consumption in 1889, these topics did not become sustained objects of academic research in sociology until after the Second World War, and more precisely during the fifties with Friedman's concern with leisure as an escape from work (Steil, 2002).
2 For these authors, the basic commodity of all tourism is exoticism, what is also true for the specific case of ethnic tourism with the difference that for the latter there is a concern with authenticity. The none-ethnic tourist would not worry, for example, whether or not a certain volcano was authentic.
3 According to Graburn, "The Fourth World is the collective name for all aboriginal or native peoples whose lands fall within the national boundaries and techno-bureaucratic administrations of the countries of the First, Second, and Third Worlds. As such, they are peoples without countries of their own, peoples who are usually in the minority and without the power to direct the course of their collective lives" (Graburn, 1976b, p. 1).
4 Não supõe limites espaciais bem delimitados, nem unidades em termos de código de orientação cultural, mas somente que sejam partilhados determinados padrões de interação no comportamento cotidiano dos indivíduos uns para os outros.
5 Lutas pelo monopólio de fazer ver e fazer crer, de dar a conhecer e de fazer reconhecer, de impor a definição legítima das divisões do mundo social e, por este meio, de fazer e de desfazer os grupos.
6 For MacCannell, "The 'primitivistic' performance contains the image of the primitive as a dead form," and, "The image of the savage that emerges from these ex-primitives performances completes the postmodern fantasy of 'authentic alterity' which is ideologically necessary in the promotion and development of global monoculture" (MacCannell, 1992a, p. 19).