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Voluntourism or Poverty Voyeurism?

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Emily Welty

on 16 January 2013

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Transcript of Voluntourism or Poverty Voyeurism?

Motivations and Desires of the Voluntourist Want to feel like they "did something" not just "saw something".....participation/contribution

Want to be distinguished from a tourist

Want a sense of connection to the Other

Want an experience of "real" poverty

Want a cross-cultural experience
What do we mean by "voluntourism"? Short term trips, often abroad in which the main goal is not just tourism or seeing sights but to contribute something (besides tourism dollars) to a local community

Sometimes take the form of conservation work
Often involve building something

Rooted in missionary model -still often managed by churches or religious organizations

Also managed by NGOs, universities, for-profit companies Motivations/desires of the Voluntoured Much less research on this...some of the research suggests that there are real benefits to the voluntoured, other research suggests that only a few people may benefit

Access to resources that voluntourists bring
Advocacy Problems and Critiques Waste of resources
Objectify the Other, socioeconomic voyeurism, commodification of people
Distracts and drains hosts of time, energy and resources
Raises expectations in the host community that are often disappointed
Deepens the divide between West as "helpers" and everyone else as "helped or helpless"
Effectiveness of untrained voluntourists vs. experts
Consumption of the Other as a new sensation to be experienced and then moved beyond
Deepens class divide in sending culture between those who can afford to voluntour and those who cannot
Themes and questions Dignity
Tourist gaze, spectacle
"Doing" vs. "being with"

Is this really a vacation/holiday? Research/learning? Mission? Does clarity around purpose help? an examination of short term volunteer trips to the Other Voluntourism or Poverty Voyeurism? A presentation by Dr. Emily Welty
Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship Fellow
Pace University
Peace and Justice Studies
Political Science
ewelty@pace.edu Best Practices: Further Questions: Continued relationship
Longer term
Understanding of complexity and nuance of situation, contextualization
Deconstruction of the categories of "helpers" and "helped"
Mutuality and fluidity of "helpers" and "helped"
Consideration of domestic trips...urban plunges?
What could your community/organization do with $15,000?
Are there any benefits to spending this kind of money on voluntourism vs. direct transfer?
What kind of voluntourists are most useful? Risk of experts vs risk of untrained secondary school students
Full transcript