Volunteer Tourism in the Global South: Giving Back in Neoliberal Times, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Volunteer Tourism in the Global South

Giving Back in Neoliberal Times, 1st Edition

By Wanda Vrasti


176 pages

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This work explores the increasingly popular phenomenon of volunteer tourism in the Global South, paying particular attention to the governmental rationalities and socio-economic conditions that valorise it as a noble and necessary cultural practice.

Combining theoretical research with primary data gathered during volunteering programs in Guatemala and Ghana, the author argues that although volunteer tourism may not trigger social change, provide meaningful encounters with difference, or offer professional expertise, as the brochure discourse and the scholarly literature on tourism and hospitality often promises, the formula remains a useful strategy for producing the subjects and social relations neoliberalism requires. Vrasti suggests that the value of volunteer tourism should not to be assessed in terms of the goods and services it delivers to the global poor, but in terms of how well the practice disseminates entrepreneurial styles of feeling and action. Analysing the key effects of volunteer tourism, it is demonstrated that far from being a selfless and history-less rescue act, volunteer tourism is in fact a strategy of power that extends economic rationality, particularly its emphasis on entrepreneurship and competition, to the realm of political subjectivity.

Volunteer Tourism in the Global South provides a unique and innovative analysis of the relationship between the political and personal dimensions of volunteer tourism and will be of great interest to scholars and students of international relations, cultural geography, tourism, and development studies.


"Any aspiring student of the field of volunteer tourism and tourism should read this book. It is an invaluable aid in examining case study research and its methods. Without a doubt, it is an academic work of some scholarship and is a useful and welcome addition to the area of tourism for academics; most should find it to be stimulating and insightful when doing work in this area or supervising student work." - Stephen Wearing, e-International Relations, November 2012

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. The Self as Enterprise 3. Multicultural Sensibilities in Guatamala 4. Entrepreneurial Education in Ghana 5. Conclusion: International Political Life

About the Author

Wanda Vrasti is Humboldt Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Social Studies Institute, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.

About the Series


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes.

We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics.


We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors:

  • Jenny Edkins (jennyedkins@hotmail.com) and
  • Nick Vaughan-Williams (N.Vaughan-Williams@Warwick.ac.uk).

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR's traditional geopolitical imaginary.’

Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Parties
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / General