Rupert Stasch: “Primitivist Tourism and Anthropological Fieldwork: A Very Awkward Relation”

Rupert Stasch (University of Cambridge) gave a talk titled “Primitivist Tourism and Anthropological Fieldwork: A Very Awkward Relation” in our visiting seminar on March 3rd, 2017.

If the lecture does not stream properly or you want to listen to it offline, download the audio file here.


This talk draws on my fieldwork studying Cannibal Tours-type encounters between international visitors and Korowai people of Indonesian Papua. Korowai, tourists, and guides regularly assimilate me to tourism-relevant roles, and I regularly notice similarities between tourism participants’ ideas or practices and my own. In the talk, I explore the ethnography of the anthropology-tourism relation in this research, following a wider well-established genre of productive reflection on anthropology’s alignments and disalignments with other social complexes it both studies and is historically co-implicated with. I emphasize that the diversity of alignments drawn or enacted by different participants does not fit one predictable construal of the anthropology-tourism relation. Concerning the side of tourists, I attach special significance to a minor but theoretically challenging pattern of tourists being “anthropological” not just in a sense of enacting primitivist ideology with historical connections to our discipline, but also being “anthropological” in a sense of taking tourism’s primitivist ideology itself as an object of inquiry, or otherwise developing ideas about tour interactions parallel to my own.

2 Replies to “Rupert Stasch: “Primitivist Tourism and Anthropological Fieldwork: A Very Awkward Relation””

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *