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Culture on Tour: Ethnographies of Travel 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226077635
ISBN-10: 0226077632
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The ethnographer's gaze and that of the cultural tourist converge on the same object: the different and distant. Edward Bruner, one of our most experienced and reflective ethnographers, looks at tourists looking at everything from staged Maasai dances and prime-time Balinese temple rites to roped-off Ghanaian slave quarters and Lincoln's made-up hometown to see what they see and what it implies for anthropological theory and interpretation. An incisive, unsettling portrayal of the ways we watch now."
(Clifford Geertz Clifford Geertz, Institute for Advanced Study 2004-07-22)

"About twenty years ago, anthropologists began to take notice of the tourists who were sharing their exotic redoubts. Edward Bruner is one of the strongest voices in the first generation of scholars to understand how the field of ethnography is radically changed by broadening it to include the tourist. This helpful volume gathers in one place Bruner's vivid observations of the ethnological subject under the influence of tourism."

(Dean MacCannell Dean MacCannell, author of The Tourist 2004-07-22)

"Since the mid-1950s, Edward Bruner has been studying people on the move. Always the consummate ethnographer, often an inquiring tourist, and sometimes an even more inquiring tour guide, Bruner documents contemporary cultures of travel and reflects tellingly on changing anthropological sensibilities. His insistence on touristic practices as social performances in their own right, not mere imitations of something else, is crucial for untangling culture theory from our folk notions of 'authenticity.'"

(Richard Handler Richard Handler, coauthor of The New History in an Old Museum 2004-07-22)

"Edward M. Bruner's Culture on Tour: Ethnographies of Travel is a bracing compendium of anthropological essays decoding specific tourist sites. . . . Bruner's emphasis is on complexity and process; he declines to disparage tourists as a class or to assume that local residents are objects of exploitation. He sees multiple, competing meanings in individual sites, contrasting meanings in different sites in the same country, and changes in the meaning of sites over time. . . . Bruner's . . . fascinating book also whirls through Africa, the Middle East, and the United States, delineating what he calls 'touristic border-zones.'-real places where tourists encounter locals in performance. Tourism, for Bruner, is 'improvisational theater ... where both tourist and local are actors.'"-Julia M. Klein, Chronicle of Higher Education

(Julia M. Klein Chronicle of Higher Education 2005-01-14)

"This monograph deserves a warm reception . . . not least because it opens up a specialist field, in this case the anthropology of tourism, to a wider readership. What Bruner's work shows in particular is that while social scientists can stand back and analyze why there are tensions within a given social setting it is often very difficult for the participants . . . to comprehend why this should be so."

(Michael Hitchcock Anthropological Quarterly)

“A spirited and thoughtful volume. . . . One of Bruner’s greatest contributions is his constructivist position, from which he views cultures as continually reinventing themselves. Tourist practices are seen as neither simulacra nor ersatz, but as social performances in their own right. This position allows Bruner to free anthropologists from their previous impasse of thinking along the binary of authenticity-inauthenticity, a persistent focus of tourism scholarship ever since Dean MacCannell’s 1970s writing on ‘staged authenticity.’ Because culture is always emergent, alive, and in process, every cultural act is authentic.”
(Miriam Kahn American Anthropologist)

"[Bruner's] accounts of these investigations--including how his 'interventionist anthropology' lost him a job as a tour guide--are absorbing, his anlysis lucid, nuanced, and free of mystifying jargon. The book is a pleasure to read."
(Julie Scott Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute)

"Culture on Tour is as much a discussion of what is at stake generally for cultural anthropology, as it adapts itself to 21st-century social life, as it is a discussion of tourism per se by one of the most knowledgeable senior scholars. . . . Looking beyond the volume's substantial contribution to the anthropology of tourism, I recommend Culture on Tour to anyone engaged in questions concerning the future of ethnographic practice generally. Especially for those who call into question the continued viability of the ethnographic method to contemporary topics of inquiry."
(Sally Ann Ness American Ethnologist)

"This eminently readable work will be of great value to scholars (at undergraduate and postgraduate levels) in the fields of anthropology, tourism studies, cultural studies, sociology, cultural geography, and to those with an interest in globalization, travel and performance. Culture on Tour is a testament to Bruner the ethnographer and Bruner the tourist/traveller, and certainly not least to Bruner the raconteur."
(Kristina Jamieson Anthropological Forum)

"Not the least of Bruner's achievements . . . is to show his readers how to think about our involvement in the immense processes of change at work in tourism. . . . For Bruner, tourism itself  is a mode of learning, and in this beautifully composed, deeply thought-provoking book he teaches by example."
(Meaghan Morris Journal of Anthropological Research)

About the Author

Edward M. Bruner is professor emeritus of anthropology and criticism and interpretive theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has written numerous articles on tourism and has coedited three previous volumes, including International Tourism: Identity and Change.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226077632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226077635
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Bruner undoubtedly has a profound knowledge of ethnographies, and his book "Culture on Tour" clearly demonstrates a lifetime of work in the field. He adeptly raises questions about culture, authenticity, and tourism through a series of case studies. His first case study analyzes the different representations of the Maasai culture in Kenya, noting the competing frameworks that each venue emphasizes. His analysis of a former Ghanaian fort where slaves were deported to Africa similarly expresses the competing values: Should the fort represent today's culture in Ghana? Should it be preserved in a 17th century fashion to maintain the austere setting where slaves once departed? Or should it reflect the original construction from the 16th century by the Portuguese? Bruner raises these questions with a number of other case studies as well, ranging from a reconstruction of Abraham Lincoln's childhood town in Illinois to the representation of Balinese dances in Indonesia. His well-researched work provides an excellent framework for thinking about tourism, how culture is portrayed, and whether or not something can ever be completely "authentic".

However, his work is not without some drawbacks. He never fully escapes from doing exactly what he preaches against--as an ethnographer, his views are still based in Western perceptions. While in the last chapter he seemingly repents for his 1930s monolithic anthropological approach in his earlier work, he still falls into the trap of cultural generalizations and biased viewpoints. While admittedly an ethnography is never completely free of these qualities, some more qualifications on his views would have been nice.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderfully engaging set of essays.Bruner has an artful way of mixing insightful observations about narrative and tourism with engaging ethnography. A gem of a collection!
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