Gender posed: the people behind the postcards

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Title: Gender posed: the people behind the postcards
Author: Ringer, Gregory D., 1951-
Abstract: As the world’s largest service industry, tourism is increasingly perceived by proponents as a socioeconomic panacea for indigenous communities. A central tenet of this argument presumes that tourism can help ensure environmental conservation and simultaneously, both employ and empower women and ethnic minorities. Yet, the selling of local people and their practices as tourist “attractions” too often transfigures the social history and culturally-constructed landscapes of the destination by mediating the formation of identities long defined through gender, behavior, and belief. This chapter, therefore, highlights the evolving roles of women and men in the globalization of tourism, as they decipher and interpret their history and “place” as visitors and denizens of locations increasingly (re)defined by the images and discourse of travel marketing. More specifically, it examines the interplay between gender and tourism by drawing attention to the 1) manner by which our spatial and cognitive experiences as hosts and visitors – and the resultant choice of destinations and leisure activities for either enjoyment or employment – are shaped by cultural constructions, perceptual images, and social practices of gender and sexuality, including prescribed clothing and physical appearances, ritualized behavior, and notions of work and equity; and 2) venues where tourism, as an industry and a socioeconomic sphere of human activity, might engender positive change at the local and international levels in existing social, environmental, and financial conditions. In so doing, the following research is intended to encourage both critical – and creative – appreciation and further discussion of the direction and discourse of tourism development and marketing in the magnification and marginalization of cultural traditions and local heritage.
Date: 2007

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