April 14, 2009

Thesis: Media and Tourism

Part of my thesis is about the ways that media is used to sell tourism and create identities for tourist destinations. Before people travel, they often use some form of media (travel guidebooks, internet sites, history books, etc.) to get an idea of what a place is all about. One of my main interests is how media affects the way that people travel--and specifically how it affects the way they interact with new places once they arrive. Does the media that people utilize determine everything? I doubt it. But it makes sense to me that it can have a strong effect upon the way that people understand a place, and how they behave in such places once they arrive.

I am interested in how people actually use media as well--what they actually do when they get to a place, how they utilize such things as guidebooks, and so on. But this is one area where I have very little information, so that will be relegated to "future research."

My basic thesis research is about the ways that different forms of media construct representations of a craft producing pueblo in Oaxaca. I am looking at history books, guidebooks, websites, art collecting books, coffee table books, and anthropology texts to survey how different forms of media are used to create an idea of this community from the outside. Then, I compare that with some of the interviews that I did within the community to look at some of the disparities between the two.

Travel is pretty fascinating. And tourism is, these days, one of the largest international economies. Many countries are placing all of their eggs, so to speak, in the basket of tourism. Once a place begins marketing itself for tourism, in effect they begin using a wide array of media to sell their identity, culture, or resources to attract visitors. Tourists, on their end of the deal, choose places based upon this media--and then they actually get in airplanes to see them in reality. In many ways human interactions in tourist encounters are heavily shaped and influenced by the media that people have access to.

The really interesting stuff happens when the idealized version of reality meets up with the actualities of human contact. It's funny...when many people travel, it seems as if they go to a place to have their pre-conceived ideas about a place affirmed. And this is where you find a situation in which "locals" perform a version of themselves that tourists want to see (read Edward Bruner's 2005 book Culture on Tour for more about this).***

So there's a little about what I am working on right now. It's still a little on the unwieldy side, since I am writing it all up RIGHT NOW, but it's coming along. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.

***Ya, I know I mentioned Bruner in two consecutive posts. What can I say?


Moisés Santos Mena said...

Excellent Ryan!! as a Mexican living in a so called: "tourist destination" (ha!)) I´ve seen this to happen very often, even to the degree of meeting the stereotype that tourists have about us, Mexicans (like playing "El Mariachi Loco" ad nauseam). As an experiment, I would recommend you to go to this specific event (arts and crafts fair) watch and take note of everything. You can write to: horacio.moncada@gmail.com
Domingo 26 abril, 2009
10-17 hrs
La comunidad indigena de San Antonio Necua te invita a la Feria Artesanal y de Productos Nativos donde podras encontrar:
* Lo mejor de las artes tradicionales Kumiai, Paipai y Kiliwas (cestería de pino y junco, cerámica, collares)
* Productos locales: queso, fruta, huevos
* Comidas tradicionales: Atole de bellota, pinole y tortillas de trigo,
* Talleres interactivos (aprenda a hacer alguna artesanía)
* Caminatas guiadas
* Música
Como llegar:
De la carretera 3 Tecate-Ensenada en el km 73, frente a Domecq tome la terraceria en dirección al este, pase por vinícola LA Cetto, luego por Rancho Doña Lupe, siga los letreros que lo llevarán a San Antonio Necua, cruzando el arroyo, a medio kilómetro, se encuentra la comunidad y pasando los corrales, llegaran al sitio de la feria.
Para mayores informes,
Alianza para el Desarrollo Sustentable en las Comunidades indígenas de Baja California
Tel (646) 178-8780
Tel-fax (646) 178-8093
Tel. Oficina:(646)178-8780
Tel-Fax: (646)178-8093

R.A. said...

Thanks Moises!!

Any news about Punta Banda of late? I just wrote a short post about the fact that I have heard very little about the project from the Tiger Woods camp.