Touring Poverty addresses a highly controversial practice: the transformation of impoverished neighbourhoods into valued attractions for international tourists. In the megacities of the Global South, selected and idealized aspects of poverty are being turned into a tourist commodity for consumption.
The book takes the reader on a journey through Rocinha, a neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro which is advertised as "the largest favela in Latin America". Bianca Freire-Medeiros presents interviews with tour operators, guides, tourists and dwellers to explore the vital questions raised by this kind of tourism. How and why do diverse social actors and institutions orchestrate, perform and consume touristic poverty? In the context of globalization and neoliberalism, what are the politics of selling and buying the social experience of cities, cultures and peoples?
With a full and sensitive exploration of the ethical debates surrounding the ‘sale of emotions’ elicited by the first-hand contemplation of poverty, Touring Poverty is an innovative book that provokes the reader to think about the role played by tourism – and our role as tourists – within a context of growing poverty. It will be of interest to students of sociology, anthropology, ethnography and methodology, urban studies, tourism studies, mobility studies, development studies, politics and international relations.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Touristic Poverty. Part I 1. Slumming: The Discovery of the Other Half 2. Touring Poverty in the New Millennium: Places, Peoples and Practices Part II 3. A Trademark and a Tourist Destination 4. Tourism in "The Largest Favela in Latin America" 5. To Be or Not to Be a Favela Tourist? 6. Crafting (Mis)Recognition: The Touristic Favela and Its Souvenirs 7. "Favelado Ain’t No Sucker": Residents’ Impressions on the Touristic Favela. Conclusion. Afterword. References. Index.
Bianca Freire-Medeiros is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Center for Research and Documentation on Brazilian Contemporary History (CPDOC) at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She was a Research Fellow at the Center for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe) at Lancaster University.
"Urban scholars have made slums, ghettos, and favelas a focus of their research for more than a century, but very few have studied these places as tourist destinations. Touring Poverty is a welcome contribution to filling this gap. Based on five years of extensive fieldwork in Rio de Janeiro, this book offers intriguing insights into the making of favelas into global tourist attractions. The book goes beyond simply judging poverty tours as right or wrong; instead, it aims to expose readers to a full spectrum of tensions and contradictions within poverty tourism. The goal is well accomplished, with vivid ethnographic accounts depicting in great detail how different actors involved in favela tours uneasily negotiate contradictions and ethical dilemmas in their everyday life… Touring Poverty is an original and engaging work and it opens up new pathways for future comparative studies on poverty tourism… The book is highly recommended for urban students interested in poverty, tourism, and development in the global South."
– City & Community
“This is an elegant piece of work, that makes us embark on different dimensions of poverty tours, and it is of great interest to sociologists, anthropologists, urban scholars, geographers and a rewarding read to all those interested in the challenges tourism poses to people and to the uniqueness of places”
– Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change
"Touring Poverty is a definite page turner. Not only is the topic absorbing and of great relevance; the text is tremendously vivid.While the first part of the book offers an aerial view (i.e., a historical summary and a global mapping) of poverty tourism, the second part presents an ant’s view of the phenomenon as it takes the reader on walking tours of the Brazilian favela, the South African township, and the Indian slum."
- Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology