Dr. Benjamin G. Blount
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-1619, USA
e-mail: bgblount@sherlock.dac.uga.edu

BENJAMIN BLOUNT holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from University of California, Berkeley (1969). He has held academic positions at the Department of Anthropology, University of Texas (1969-1979), and the Department of Anthropology, University of Georgia (1979-present). He is a member of the Cognitive Studies Group, Institute for Behavioral Research, University of Georgia (1987-present). Blount's research and publications have focused on enculturation and socialization of Luo children of Kenya, on linguistics of the Luo language, and on semantics and pragmatics of language from a linguistic anthropology perspective. Current projects focus on cultural models of marine environmental resources and competition and conflict in access to and use of them.



"Indigenous People and the Uses and Abuses of Eco-Tourism"

Tourism has grown to be one of the world's largest industries. A considerable portion of the growth has been in the developing world, and the fastest-growing type of tourism in the recent decade has been nature tourism, or eco-tourism. Multiple factors contribute to that growth, especially the fact that much of the world's scenic and biologically rich areas are found in the less developed regions of the world. Those regions also typically have high linguistic and cultural diversity, and the increase in the flow of tourists to those areas create an interesting array of issues that relate to endangered languages, endangered knowledge, and endangered environments. Eco-tourism generates significant finances, raising questions and issues about who derives benefit from the income. Although eco-tourism can provide employment opportunities for local populations, those are often at the low end of the income scale. When income from tourism is channeled into local communities, issues arise as to the distribution and use of the funds, which can lead to community development, differentiation within communities, or to community dissolution. Another, related set of issues concerns the control of the local resources that serve as the base of attraction for eco-tourists. Do local people have any control of the resources, and if so, to what extent, and in what ways? Yet another set of issues concerns the impact of eco-tourism on the cultural integrity of the local people. That, too, can cut both ways, leading to enhancement and revitalization of the value of local culture, but the cultural productions of the indigenous populations can also become devalued through their catering to the expectations of eco-tourists. Those and other issues are addressed in this paper, with illustrations of some solutions that have been proposed and attempted.

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