The presentation of Bushmen in cultural tourism

Huncke, A and Koot, S (2012), The presentation of Bushmen in cultural tourism: tourists’ images of Bushmen and the tourism provider’s presentation of (Hai//om) Bushmen at Treesleeper Camp, Namibia, Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies, 26:5, 671-689.

 

Abstract

This article examines images of Bushmen in Namibian cultural tourism from two angles: that of the tourists and that of the community-based tourism provider. By looking at the tourist activities offered at Treesleeper Camp, it will be shown that in host–guest encounters, tourists’ images of (Hai//om) Bushmen interrelate with the images presented by the local hosts, and that tourists’ perceptions and the images sought to be transmitted by the community-based local tourism provider are (partly) different. Tourists’ quest for authentic Bushmen cultures often reflects the expectation of a pristine and exotic ‘other’ – an image that is derived from colonial views, anthropology, media and the tourism industry. But there are also tourists who are looking for Bushmen in a process of development. The community-based cultural tourism project of Treesleeper attempts to create awareness of Bushmen using their traditions to deal with current life challenges. The dual nature of the project is the starting point for showcasing the recreation of images as well as the tourism provider’s ambivalence – in order to fulfil tourists’ expectations – between the objectives to create awareness of the Hai//om Bushmen’s cultural heritage and their contemporary life.

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or contact the author on koot@iss.nl.

 


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