Heritage is a prized cultural commodity in the marketing of tourism destinations. Particular aspects of heritage are often more actively promoted, with others played down. The representation of heritage in tourism as static and timeless, derived since time immemorial from a distant past, is seductive. In Asia, a major part of the tourism market lies in the sale and consumption of highly orientalized images and versions of culture and history. In India’s marketing discourse, the state of Rajasthan symbolizes the nation in its heritage-laden, traditional and most authentic form. These images draw heavily on the British period in India - the Raj. In one sense, this vision of Rajasthan is ennobling, highlighting moments of cultural pride. In another sense, it demeans, by omitting and obscuring salient features of contemporary life. This fascinating book explores the cultural politics of tourism through interdisciplinary perspectives. Carol E. Henderson and Maxine Weisgrau demonstrate that tourism heritage privileges elite histories that recapitulate colonial relationships, compelling non-elites to collude in these narratives of subordination even as they advance their own alternative visions of history.
Dr Carol Henderson is a Affiliated Faculty Member, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Rutgers University-Newark- The State University of New Jersey, USA. Dr Maxine Weisgrau is a Term Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Barnard College/Columbia University, USA.
’These studies of tourism to Rajasthan raise our understanding of the phenomenon to a new level. They reach beyond the issues of cultural and mass tourism and their impact. The authors show how complex and contingent tourism practices and representations are not only for the outside tourists (most of them now Indians), but from the point of view of Rajasthanis themselves. These essays, taken together, also provide as interesting a snapshot of the diverse and overlapping changes taking place in India today as one could hope to find.’ Ronald Inden, University of Chicago, USA '...Raj Rhapsodies is a timely addition to studies on India and Rajasthan. After Edensor’s work on the Taj, it is the first project that attempts a scholarly examination of tourism at an Indian site, and will help in bringing tourism as a category of study into the fields of art history, urban planning, architecture, and religious studies particularly in the South Asian context.' H-Travel 'This is an interesting book that provides a useful contribution to the field of tourism studies in general and, more specifically, to current debates on tourism, heritage and culture. In particular, it addresses the ways in which Rajasthan is promoted, re-presented, and experienced for, and by, tourists.' Cultural Geography