chapter  3
13 Pages

Shifting values of ‘primitiveness’ among the Zafi maniry of Madagascar: an anthropological approach to tourist mediators’ discourses

As much as tourism is an enormous profit-generating business, it is also an industry that produces, distributes and consumes narratives, imaginaries, identities and, ultimately, dreams. This production is generally shaped according to the consumer identities of tourist-generating countries that are, in their majority and at least so far, affluent European regions.1 The imaginaries and narratives constructed through and for tourism are powerful: they have the power to move people, but also to travel on a global scale, spreading their system of representations beyond spatial and cultural boundaries. By doing so, they mobilize and create ‘regimes of value’, in the sense that they confer meaning or importance to a number of things, tangible – such as services or material objects, and intangible – such as social relationships, emotions, exchanges, etc. These become, at the same time, ‘desirable’ and ‘worth’: that is ‘values’, in a sociological and economic sense (Graeber, 2001). Desirable, because, as it has been argued (Ateljevic & Doorne, 2003), in predominantly ‘Western’ cultures, leisure and tourism consumption are vehicles of social differentiation means for increasing what Bourdieu (1984) defined as ‘cultural capital’. ‘Worth’ because they have an ultimate economic sense, which is measured by ‘how much others are willing to give up to get them’ (Graeber, 2001).