We aim to interrogate the ways in which representations of the Other are manifested in contemporary ethnographic and ethnography aligned film. Noel Salazar’s advancement of the notion ‘tourism imaginaries’ is the scaffold that binds this special issue. In invoking the term exotic Other, we acknowledge that it is generally multivalent and demarcating it as one thing or another is naturally problematic. However, we consider the Other to comprise of subjects that are neither mainstream nor conventional and for the most part, made up of marginal groups and individuals in places ‘off the beaten track’.
Film subjects will inhabit peripheral places, occupy marginal existences, undertake alternative and precarious livelihoods or display distinct social and cultural mores that evoke perceptions of them as being ‘other worldly’, unique, unprecedented, alien or novel. What they have in common is that their existences intersect with tourism either directly or in other less obvious and direct ways, and their depiction occurs amidst the prevalence and rise of tourism.
Martin Butler and Bentley Dean’s (2015) film Tanna, underpins the lead article of this special issue. Set in the South Pacific nation Vanuatu, Tanna is a rendering of the Other and is typical of the types of examinations sought. In Tanna, Butler and Dean employ a hybrid ethnographic and documentary making approach that dramatises a true story, evoking the well-worn trope of love and loss and set within a traditional community context. Tanna occurs at a time when tourism is the island nation’s preeminent economic sector and the film is forecast to have implications for tourism and the way islanders and the country is perceived. Other films that align with this initiative include Jenny Chio’s ‘Peasant Family Happiness’, Ilia Kok’s ‘Framing the Other’ or Pegi Vail’s ‘Gringo Trails among others. Indeed, Denis O’Rourke’s ‘Cannibal Tours’ stands as a beacon underlining this special issue.
Marcus Banks’ (1992) framework that defines ethnographic films is used here as a guiding hand. Bank’s assertion is that ethnographic films are a form of social action filmmaking and must contain three central ideals:
- Intention – desire to capture reality
- Event – capture the phenomenon or event studied without intervention
- Reaction – an idea about who the audience of the film might be and how this could elicit better understandings and be a force for change.
Banks conception of ethnographic films provides a starting point for critical analysis and is extended to include dramatised accounts of distinctly ethnographically aligned material with the proviso that such films address his three markers. It is widely acknowledged that ethnographic films are not a filmic genre in their own right and although inhabiting particular traits, it is an expose of a people and the circumstances that underpin their ordinary existence.
Authors will draw from ethnographic films and those that employ ethnographic methods. It is also expected that authors will examine films that have been produced in the last decade (from 2005 onwards) to coincide with an unprecedented growth phase for international tourism. In these films, human subjects and their cultural landscapes must be central to the film’s narrative and their portrayal should raise questions about the wide-ranging implications that their exposure and link to tourism confers. Implications for film subjects and their cultural landscapes may relate to the binaries of empowerment or disempowerment, inclusion or alienation, enrichment or depletion and resilience or vulnerability, to name a few possibilities.
It is also expected that authors will contribute to the theoretical development of tourism anthropology and its intersection with contemporary film. Several key questions abound and authors should consider these in the construction of abstracts.
In what ways are Buchman, Moore and Fisher’s (2010) yearning for ‘authenticity and fellowship’ through films and its relation to tourism evident?
- Are there discernible links between film and the desire to visit the people, place and context featured (Rittichainuwat,and Rattanaphinanchai, 2015)?
- Is the intersection between film, tourism and ethnicity discernible and to what extent does the film’s narrative advance or negate the progression of central subjects and their related contexts (Adams, 2016)?
- To what extent are social justice and marginalisation concerns of the film’s central subjects generalised and simplified resulting in the incitement of social change and a call to action?
- What are the emerging manifestations of ethnographic films and how do these relate to tourism? Cool’s (2015) probing regarding “What can be done to ensure both continuity and new growth for ethnographic film as a practice and discourse community” is a reminder
- To what extent do ethnographic films induce and encourage visitation to the setting exemplified within the film narrative
- Chio (2014) argues that ethnographic films are somewhat comparable with the “tourist gaze as a means of exploring the tensions and perhaps unresolvable challenges in the production of a film as a part of fieldwork and a broader anthropological research project”. To what extent is Chio’s view evident and what are the implications for the particular way in which ethnographic films represent the exotic other in touristic contexts?
Chio (2014) concludes that when it comes to ethnography, “the questions of interpretation and obligation matter deeply to me because they are rooted in an ethical engagement with two villages that are still grappling with the changing everyday conditions of living with, and in, tourism”. To what extent are issues of ethical judgment evident and if so, what are the complexities that arise?
It is expected that papers will be grounded in critical film/critical tourism analysis and crossover the topics above among others.
Suitable topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Tourism and film
- Critical film analysis
- Tourism and ethnographies
- Ethnographic filmmaking
- Visual anthropology
- Tourism imaginaries
- Tourism and social justice
- Tourism and development
- Tourism and political economy
- Community based development
- Indigenous tourism
- Slum tourism
- Tourism and poverty alleviation
- Adventure tourism
- Spiritual tourism and pilgrimage
- Tourism livelihoods
- Festivals and events
Submission of abstracts (by email): 15 February, 2017
Submission of manuscripts (online): 30 July, 2017
Notification to authors: 30 September, 2017
Final versions due: 30 October, 2017