Study examines impact of 'slumming it'

Posted by ap507 at Oct 24, 2016 10:19 AM |
Book launch on 2 November at University of Leicester focuses on slum tourism

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 24 October 2016

Slumming it: The Tourist Valorization of Urban Poverty, published by Zed Books, to be launched in the David Wilson Library Book Shop on Wednesday 2 November from 3.30pm-5pm. The talk will be followed by a reception

The cover of the book is available here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ez9n8smsm0fx6ly/AAA_ZdMrxhpW1YD_YH-Tos-9a?dl=0

The notion of ‘Slumming it’ is to be brought under sharp focus at a discussion being held at the University of Leicester.

A new study by Dr Fabian Frenzel, of the University of Leicester School of Business, draws on knowledge and experience of slums in India, South Africa and South America.

Dr Frenzel will be launching his book, Slumming it: The Tourist Valorization of Urban Poverty, published by Zed Books, in the David Wilson Library Book Shop on Wednesday 2 November from 3.30pm-5pm. The talk will be followed by a reception. The event is free and open to staff, students and the public.

The book discusses the curious phenomenon of slum tourism, examining whether slums across the world have become ‘cool’ as more and more tourists discover favelas, ghettos, townships and barrios on leisurely visits.

Questioning a short hand moralist rejection of ‘slumming’, Dr Frenzel understands contemporary slum tourism as a social practice closely tied to attempts at managing inequality and poverty in an emergent transnational care regime.

Dr Frenzel said: “There is a tendency to not take tourists seriously, to think of their involvement with the world as superficial and idiotic. My research shows how tourism changes places, and how it affects social conflicts, how it works a social force.”

The study examines the allure of slums for better-off visitors and the impact it has on slums as well as on the world stage. It takes a long view at slum tourism as an indicator of the ways in which the ’social question’ is posed in different epochs. 

Slum tourism’s history points to the power of tourism in (re-)making the slum, from the outset of Victorian slumming to today’s forays of the rich into the poorer neighbourhoods of global cities.

In the book, tourism is recast as a productive, and potentially rebellious force that affects urban place making and intervenes in local social conflicts. Tourism’s productivity, or valorisation, may enhance and amplify local struggles for recognition and resources, but is also prone to being captured in urban regeneration schemes and gentrification.

Dr Frenzel argues that slum tourism doesn't have to be exploitative - it can draw attention to important global justice issues and encourage new networks of solidarity and care.

“Many tourists seek to better understand the conditions in which urban poverty unfolds today. People may debate the salience of different forms of tourism to achieve such understanding. But let us not forget that other tourists choose to completely ignore inequality and other problems in the places they visit. The morality of slum tourism needs to be discussed in this light.”

Dr Frenzel argues that while slum tourism often evokes moral outrage, critics rarely ask about what motivates this tourism, or what wider consequences and effects it initiates. His study investigates the lure that slums exert on their better-off visitors, looking at the many ways in which this curious form of attraction ignites changes both in the slums themselves and on the world stage.

Dr Frenzel states: “I hope to provoke people into thinking differently on tourism and on slums. There is a tendency to not take tourists seriously, to think of their involvement with the world as superficial and idiotic. My research shows how tourism changes places, and how it affects social conflicts, how it works as a social force.

“Slums are also little understood. The term itself is derogative and describes a variety of very different places in the world that seem to share one thing in the main: they are reservoirs of labour that the city needs but does not fully recognise. Tourism disturbs local value regimes according to which some neighbourhoods matter more than others. Tourism partly reverses this: In Mumbai the informal neighbourhood of Dharavi is one of the most visited places, on par with world heritage sites in the city.”

The research covers slums in Rio de Janeiro, Bangkok and multiple cities in South Africa, Kenya and India. The study examines the roots and consequences of the growing phenomenon whose effects have ranged from gentrification and urban policy reform to the organization of international development and poverty alleviation.

Controversially, Frenzel argues that the rise of slum tourism has drawn attention to important global justice issues, and is far more complex than we initially acknowledged.

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