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Amateur Anthropologists: DIY Tourism as Learning Culture and Accessing Authenticity


This literature review explores the ways in which the idea of "the tourist" has been theorized by various tourism scholars. First, I will focus on the seminal works and argue that classical tourism literatures have universally approached "the tourist" as one who wishes to be identified as a traveler, coded as a learning-oriented explorer rather than a member of tourists, consumerist dupes who fail to truly experience the wonders of the world. I will refer to this particular type of tourist as "amateur anthropologists," adventurous travelers with a strong do-it-yourself attitude, hoping to discover something both extraordinary and authentic from the journey. Such desires to find the authentic led to a fervent yet futile chase between the tourist industry putting on a lavish performance to lure the tourists, versus amateur anthropologists attempting to access the truly unmediated reality. The latter part of this thesis will analyze more recent literatures on tourism and mediation, and argue that these tourism-media scholars also conceptualize the "tourist" as truth-seekers orienting their travel towards discovering the truth. Finally, I will further allude to the ways in which the advent of cybermedia may give a new shape to tourism practices.

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