Australian National University. College of Asia & the Pacific
Asia Pacific Week Program
Asia Pacific Week location:Canberra, Australia date:29 January - 2 February 2006
Tourist destinations worldwide are adapting themselves to the homogenizing corporate culture of the global tourism industry while at the same time trying to maintain, or even increase, their distinctive local identity. These concurrent processes of globalization and localization intersect, overlap, and clash at various levels. Since the natural and cultural heritage of a destination is what many tourists are seeking to experience, the (re)production of their representations becomes a contested arena of conflicting interests and an issue of public concern. Local tour guides are key mediators in this whole process. This dissertation project will study empirically how guides are shaped by and shaping global tourism discourses (e.g. the fashionable language of eco-tourism and nostalgia tourism) in their touristified representations of “the local”. Such research is especially significant in a country like Indonesia, where national policies to train and license guides are poorly implemented. Research in Yogyakarta, Java’s major tourism hub, will serve as a case study.
By combining an in-depth ethnographic analysis of the local tourism industry with a discourse-centered analysis of guiding narratives and practices and an actor-network analysis of the guides’ global networks and connections, I will examine the relationship between global tourism and local tour guiding in Yogyakarta. Because it lies at the intersection of various theoretical and methodological approaches, this project will interest a broad range of social scientists looking for new ways to conceptualize and empirically research global-local relations. At the same time, the theory generated will inform tourism policy-making, planning, and development in Indonesia and elsewhere. While the project goals are scholarly, this project is part of my long-term endeavor to bring tourism-related research more to the center of the social sciences and to bring academic inquiry closer to the public interest.