Maasai on the Lawn: Tourist Realism in East Africa

Essay Excerpt

Tourism gives tribalism and colonialism a second life by bringing them back as representations of themselves and circulating them within an economy of performance. Mass tourism routinely recycles dying industries, dead sites, past colonial relations, and abandoned ethnographic tropes to produce industrial parks, living historical villages, and enactments like Mayers Ranch. Catering to the "imagination of others" (Waller 1993:301), mass tourism stages fantasy not only within hermetic theme parks located anywhere, but also within geographically specific historical sites and life worlds-and blurs the distinctions among them. What Renato Rosaldo calls "imperialist nostalgia" (1989) is not just a sentiment. It is also a scenario for tourist productions - itineraries, environments, and performances - and the marketing of them (435). 

Bruner, E. M. and Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, B. "Maasai on the Lawn: Tourist Realism in East Africa." Cultural Anthropology 9.4(1994): 435–470.

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