“They want to dress up everything to the tourists, but this real. This is raw”: Counter-storytelling in tourism

Authors: Katherine Dudley*, California State University, Long Beach, Lauren Duffy , Clemson University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Qualitative Methods, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: counterstories, tourism, critical race theory,
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The production and perpetuation of tourism narratives in destinations often suppress the realities of intersectional identity issues of marginalized populations within the destination. Often, such structures and practices work together to produce feelings of disdain not toward tourism itself, but toward the master tourism narratives rooted in racist, sexist and classist ideologies that perpetuate historical and cultural invisibility of culture bearers and tourism workers. Informed by critical race theory and critiques of neoliberal capitalist tourism development, this research explores the experiences of tourism workers and residents in New Orleans, Louisiana. Critical race theory is concerned with disrupting, exposing, challenging and changing racist ideologies and policies that work to subordinate and disenfranchise certain groups of people. As such, it utilizes counter-storytelling to legitimize the voices and experiences of people of color and draws on these knowledges in efforts to eradicate forms of social oppression. Drawing on the work of Solórzano and Yosso (2002), I use narratives and stories told by those who have been “othered” through New Orleans’ tourism development and promotion to create three counter-stories to three tourism promotional blogposts. The juxtaposition between the stories and counter-stories unveil structures and practices that prevent certain groups from realizing the social and economic benefits tourism can provide and offers insight into ways to mend the chasm that resides between the positive aspects of tourism development and those who sustain it.

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