Digital Collaborations and Subaltern Representation in Slum Tourism Promotion

Authors: Tore Holst*, Roskilde University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Urban Geography, Third World
Keywords: Slum Tourism, Informal Urbanism India, Subaltern Studies, affect, humanitarian logics
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:40 PM
Room: Regent, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The paper seeks to explore how digital media technologies and platforms of distribution might facilitate spaces of collaboration between voluntourists from the global north and the subaltern populations they interact with. Empirically, it focusses on the production and distribution of videos promoting slum tours conducted by a Delhi-based NGO that resocialises street children and educate a few each year to act as guides on tours of the neighborhood where they used to live on the street. The paper analyses how the videos stage this topos as a subaltern space of creative, informal urbanism, by using the guides as ‘prisms’, who refract and project their past onto this topos, thereby authenticating both the slum tour and themselves as guides in the process. Based on an extensive fieldwork within the NGO, the paper furthermore explores: A) how the recording, editing and distribution of such aestheticized video-versions of past hardship might help promote this NGO as a legitimate distributor of aid. B) How the production and sharing of videos on social media platforms serve to highlight the ‘travelled identities’ of the volunteers, whose deeds in the global South might otherwise go unnoticed back home. C) How this circulation of media incentivizes the guides to become digital entrepreneurs-of-the-self, who perpetually perform the role of ‘former street children’ that situated as liminal subalterns, perpetually on the verge of complete resocialization and thereby simultaneously able to speak for current street children and the organization committed their resocialization.

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