Speakers to examine 'double-edged sword' of cultural heritage tourism

September 10, 2012

The University Libraries will host a presentation titled "Cultural Heritage Tourism and Community Well-Being among the Maasai of Tanzania," at noon on Sept. 19, in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library on Penn State's University Park campus. Jyotsna (Josi) M. Kalavar, associate professor of human development and family studies at Penn State New Kensington, and Christine Buzinde, associate professor of community resource development at Arizona State University, will present the findings from their study of tourism on two communities in Tanzania.

Describing their research, Kalavar and Buzinde said, "Tourism has been viewed as a tool that can enable lesser economically developed countries to improve community well-being and meet Millennium Development Goals. However, critics point to the potential for negative economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism."

Kalavar and Buzinde collaborated with their Maasai colleague, Melubo Kokel, to conduct research on the impact of heritage tourism among the Maasai, in Esilalei and Oltukai, communities located in the Arusha District of Tanzania. "To attract tourism dollars, Maasai communities have established cultural bomas, pseudo Maasai villages, where crafts are displayed and sold and cultural performances take place for tourists. The research conducted in Esilalei and Oltukai employed focus groups with respondents of different ages to learn how Maasai in Tanzania perceive well-being, how tourism development affects well-being and how well-being is perceived across generations," the researchers note.

Kalavar and Buzinde say their findings reveal that heritage tourism is a double-edged sword, that well-being is not viewed as synonymous with achieving Millennium Development Goals and that it is perceived somewhat differently across generations. They suggest that the Maasai community's definition of well-being should be incorporated into policies that affect their lives.

This presentation is part of an ongoing seminar series organized by the Inter-institutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge and the Penn State Social Sciences Library. For more information or questions about the physical access, contact Helen Sheehy at hms2@psu.edu / 814-863-1347.

  • A youth selling handicrafts at the 'boma,' a cultural village and market set up for tourists in Tanzania.

    IMAGE: photo credit: Jyotsna M. Kalavar
Last Updated September 14, 2012