Beyond the Smile: The Infra-Politics of the Host in a Nepalese Orphanage

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:40
Oral Presentation
Amira BENALI, university of Geneva, Switzerland
Central to the volunteer tourism experience is the encounter with the host community. Despite this fundamental role, most of the research focused on the volunteers, while little attention was paid to the local community (Wearing &McGehee 2013). Local are often depicted as an object of action and not as active. They play the role of the submissive. In this paper, I try to challenge this established configuration of power, applying Scott’s (1990) concept of Infra politic. An ethnographic study in an orphanage in Nepal was held. I follow an Extend Case Method methodology (Burawoy 1998) in order to sucribe the individual narratives in the global postcolonial context.

The analysis reveal a dialectical tension between resistance and compliance. In fact hosts are aware of the business making out of their orphanage. They are also not impressed by the western volunteers. Their bitterness and revolt are expressed through disguised forms of resistance. However, at the same time, they are conscious of their powerlessness against the global market and the advancement of western world. That is why they encourage and sustain the volunteer tourism market. It seems that Nepalese try to be selective, deciding what to learn from western and what to keep from their own culture.