Noel B. Salazar
University of Pennsylvania (USA)


This article reviews anthropologically inspired theories of international tourism in developing countries, analyzing the interrelationships between three core theoretical concepts – culture, power, and identity. The first anthropological attempts at theorizing contemporary tourism were embedded in a framework of political economy and focused on macro-scale inequalities. Linking tourism to dependency and domination, these theories heavily relied on Marxist theory. The same framework has been used in recent times to analyze so-called ‘alternative’ forms of tourism, which emphasize authenticity and sustainability. Relying on the ‘host-guest’-paradigm, anthropologists have traditionally explored the personal interaction between tourists and people living in tourism destinations. This approach has been coupled with a focus on the relation between tourism and identity politics. Tourism scholars have recently added a Foucauldian perspective and a feminist critique. In order to synthesize this wide array of conceptualizations, the anthropology of tourism is in urgent need of an integrative theoretical framework, interlinking the different levels at which cultures, powers and identities are at play.

Keywords: Anthropology of tourism, theories of tourism, developing countries, identity.