Volunteer Tourism in the Global South
Giving Back in Neoliberal Times
By Wanda Vrasti
Routledge – 2013 – 166 pages
This work explores the increasingly popular phenomenon of volunteer tourism in the Global South, paying particular attention to the governmental rationalities and socio-economic conditions that valorise it as a noble and necessary cultural practice.
Combining theoretical research with primary data gathered during volunteering programs in Guatemala and Ghana, the author argues that although volunteer tourism may not trigger social change, provide meaningful encounters with difference, or offer professional expertise, as the brochure discourse and the scholarly literature on tourism and hospitality often promises, the formula remains a useful strategy for producing the subjects and social relations neoliberalism requires. Vrasti suggests that the value of volunteer tourism should not to be assessed in terms of the goods and services it delivers to the global poor, but in terms of how well the practice disseminates entrepreneurial styles of feeling and action. Analysing the key effects of volunteer tourism, it is demonstrated that far from being a selfless and history-less rescue act, volunteer tourism is in fact a strategy of power that extends economic rationality, particularly its emphasis on entrepreneurship and competition, to the realm of political subjectivity.
Volunteer Tourism in the Global South provides a unique and innovative analysis of the relationship between the political and personal dimensions of volunteer tourism and will be of great interest to scholars and students of international relations, cultural geography, tourism, and development studies.
"Any aspiring student of the field of volunteer tourism and tourism should read this book. It is an invaluable aid in examining case study research and its methods. Without a doubt, it is an academic work of some scholarship and is a useful and welcome addition to the area of tourism for academics; most should find it to be stimulating and insightful when doing work in this area or supervising student work." - Stephen Wearing, e-International Relations, November 2012
1. Introduction 2. The Self as Enterprise 3. Multicultural Sensibilities in Guatamala 4. Entrepreneurial Education in Ghana 5. Conclusion: International Political Life
Wanda Vrasti is Humboldt Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Social Studies Institute, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.