International Journal of Tourism Anthropology vol:1 issue:1 pages:55-69
Based on long-term fieldwork in Indonesia and Tanzania, this article sheds new light on the contested relationship between tourism and cosmopolitanism. The ethnographic findings shift the attention from tourists to key service providers as those accruing most cosmopolitan capital through the tourism encounter. Local tour guides are able to use their privileged contacts with foreign visitors to develop cross-cultural competencies and to enhance their own cosmopolitan status. They substantiate the idea that cosmopolitanism is no privilege of the rich and well-connected and that physical or spatial mobility is not a necessary condition to become cosmopolitan. Paradoxically, the guides’ dreams of becoming more cosmopolitan (and more modern and Western) can only materialize if they represent to tourists their lifeworld, including themselves, as frozen in both time and space, because it is exactly this kind of imaged and imagined difference tourism sells to tourists for the build-up of their own cosmopolitan capital.