The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 111–128 | Cite as

Save the World in a Week: Volunteer Tourism, Development and Difference

  • Barbara Vodopivec
  • Rivke Jaffe
Original Article

Abstract

Alternative forms of tourism such as eco-tourism feature prominently in development policy and literature. This article focuses on international volunteer tourism, a specific form of tourism that is closely linked to a range of development projects in low-income countries. This form of ‘tourism with a development agenda’ has become increasingly popular among young people from developed countries. We argue that volunteer tourism both reflects and contributes to a new logic of development. This form of travel can be understood as a particular, neoliberal form of development practice, in which development is not only privatized but can be packaged as a marketable commodity. We focus critically on the process of volunteering and the interactions that take place within this form of tourism, with a focus on the concurrent commercialization of development and cultural difference.

Keywords

volunteering tourism anthropology of development Guatemala neoliberalism mobilities 

Abstract

Des formes de tourisme alternatif telles que l’éco-tourisme deviennent de plus en plus importantes, tant dans les débats que les pratiques de développement. Cet article s’intéresse au volontariat international, un type de tourisme particulier qui se déroule dans le cadre de projets de développement variés dans les pays en voie de développement. Cette forme de ‘tourisme pour le développement’ devient de plus en plus populaire parmi les jeunes des pays développés. Nous soutenons que cette forme de tourisme reflète et contribue à une nouvelle logique de développement. Ce type de voyage peut être vu comme une forme particulière, néolibérale de développement, dans laquelle celui-ci est non seulement privatisé, mais est aussi présenté comme un produit commercialisable. Nous examinons de manière critique ce processus de volontariat, ainsi que les interactions qui en découlent, en nous penchant particulièrement sur la question de la commercialisation du développement et des différences culturelles.

References

  1. Ashley, C., Roe, D. and Goodwin, H. (2001) Pro-Poor Tourism Strategies: Making Tourism Work for the Poor: A Review of Experience. London: IIED/ODI/CRT.Google Scholar
  2. Atkinson, P. (1992) Understanding Ethnographic Texts. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brohman, J. (1996) New directions in tourism for third world development. Annals of Tourism Research 23 (1): 48–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Callanan, M. and Thomas, S. (2005) Volunteer tourism: Deconstructing volunteer activities within a dynamic environment. In: M. Novelli (ed.) Niche Tourism: Contemporary Issues, Trends and Cases. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Butterworth Heinemann, pp. 183–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Coghlan, A. (2007) Towards an integrated typology of volunteer tourism organisations. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 15 (3): 267–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cohen, A.P. (2000) Introduction: Discriminating relations: Identity, boundary and authenticity. In: A.P. Cohen (ed.) Signifying Identities: Anthropological Perspectives on Boundaries and Contested Values. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 1–16.Google Scholar
  7. Cohen, E. (1984) The sociology of tourism: Approaches, issues, and findings. Annual Review of Sociology 10: 373–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Escobar, A. (1991) Anthropology and the development encounter: The making and marketing of development anthropology. American Ethnologist 18 (4): 658–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Escobar, A. (1995) Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Gow, D.D. (1996) The anthropology of development: Discourse, agency, and culture. Anthropological Quarterly 69 (3): 165–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hutnyk, J. (1996) The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation. London and New Jersey: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  12. Little, W.E. (2004) Mayas in the Marketplace: Tourism, Globalization, and Cultural Identity. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  13. Lyons, K.D. and Wearing, S. (eds.) (2008) Journeys of Discovery in Volunteer Tourism: International Case Study Perspectives. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing.Google Scholar
  14. Mand, K. (2004) ‘Insider’ and ‘outsider’ ambiguities: Social capital, gender and power in the field. In: R. Edwards (ed.) Social Capital in the Field: Researcher's Tales. London: London South Bank University, pp. 35–40.Google Scholar
  15. Manji, F. and O'Coill, C. (2002) The missionary position: NGOs and development in Africa. International Affairs 78 (3): 567–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Matthews, A. (2008) Negotiated selves: Exploring the impact of local-global interactions on young volunteer travellers. In: K.D. Lyons and S. Wearing (eds.) Journeys of Discovery in Volunteer Tourism: International Case Study Perspectives. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing, pp. 101–117.Google Scholar
  17. McIntosh, A.J. and Zahra, A. (2007) A cultural encounter through volunteer tourism: Towards the ideals of sustainable tourism? Journal of Sustainable Tourism 15 (5): 541–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Micheletti, M. (2004) Introduction. In: M. Micheletti, A. Follesdal and D. Stolle (eds.) Politics, Products and Markets: Exploring Political Consumerism Past and Present. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, pp. ix–xxvi.Google Scholar
  19. Miraftab, F. (2004) Making neo-liberal governance: The disempowering work of empowerment. International Planning Studies 9 (4): 239–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mohan, G. and Stokke, K. (2000) Participatory development and empowerment: The dangers of localism. Third World Quarterly 21 (2): 247–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mosse, D. (2004) Is good policy unimplementable? Reflections on the ethnography of aid policy and practice. Development and Change 35 (4): 639–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mowforth, M., Charlton, C. and Munt, I. (2007) Tourism and Responsibility: Perspectives from Latin America and the Caribbean. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Mowforth, M. and Munt, I. (2008) Tourism and Sustainability: Development, Globalisation and New Tourism in the Third World, 3rd edn. New York and London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pattullo, P. (1996) Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean. London: LAB.Google Scholar
  25. Raymond, E. (2008) Make a difference! The role of sending organizations in volunteer tourism. In: K.D. Lyons and S. Wearing (eds.) Journeys of Discovery in Volunteer Tourism: International Case Study Perspectives. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing, pp. 48–60.Google Scholar
  26. Rose, N.S. (1999) Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Scheyvens, R. (2007) Exploring the tourism-poverty nexus. Current Issues in Tourism 10 (2&3): 231–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Shamir, R. (2008) The age of responsibilization: On market-embedded morality. Economy and Society 37 (1): 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Simpson, K. (2004) ‘Doing development’: The gap year, volunteer-tourists and a popular practice of development. Journal of International Development 16 (5): 681–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Smith, V.L. and Eadington, W.R. (eds.) (1992) Tourism Alternatives: Potentials and Problems in the Development of Tourism. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Stoddart, H. and Rogerson, C.M. (2004) Volunteer tourism: The case of habitat for humanity South Africa. Geojournal 60: 311–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stronza, A. (2001) Anthropology of tourism: Forging new ground for ecotourism and other alternatives. Annual Review of Anthropology 30: 261–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Telfer, D.J. and Sharpley, R. (2008) Tourism and Development in the Developing World. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Townsend, J.G., Porter., G. and Mawdsley, E. (2002) The role of the transnational community of non-government organisations: Governance or poverty reduction? Journal of International Development 14 (6): 829–839.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tsing, A.L. (2005) Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Wearing, S. (2001) Volunteer Tourism: Experiences that Make a Difference. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wilson, T.D. (ed.) (2008) The impact of tourism in Latin America. Special Edition of Latin American Perspectives 35 (3): 3–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Vodopivec
    • 1
  • Rivke Jaffe
    • 2
  1. 1.Independent Researcher
  2. 2.Leiden UniversityLeiden

Personalised recommendations