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Volunteer tourism and The White Man s Burden globalization of suffering white savior complex religion and modernity

Volunteer tourism and The White Man s Burden globalization of suffering white savior complex religion and modernity
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  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found athttps://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rsus20  Journal of Sustainable Tourism ISSN: 0966-9582 (Print) 1747-7646 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rsus20 Volunteer tourism and “The White Man’s Burden”:globalization of suffering, white savior complex,religion and modernity Ranjan Bandyopadhyay To cite this article:  Ranjan Bandyopadhyay (2019) Volunteer tourism and “The White Man’sBurden”: globalization of suffering, white savior complex, religion and modernity, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27:3, 327-343, DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2019.1578361 To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2019.1578361 Published online: 05 Mar 2019.Submit your article to this journal Article views: 982View related articles View Crossmark dataCiting articles: 1 View citing articles  Volunteer tourism and  “ The White Man ’ s Burden ” :globalization of suffering, white savior complex, religionand modernity Ranjan Bandyopadhyay Institute of Social and Economic Research, Duy Tan University, Da Nang, Vietnam ABSTRACT While many volunteer tourism studies have acknowledged the signifi-cance of volunteer tourism and challenged conventional understandingsof socio-economic change in the Global South, the ways in which ideasabout  globalization of suffering  and  religion and modernity   flow throughvolunteer tourism and development discourses are rarely spoken about.Utilizing postcolonialism and whiteness studies theoretical framework,this study intends to take volunteer tourism research into a different tra- jectory by arguing that much like imperialism is operationalized throughdifferent kinds of institutional power (agencies such as the IMF and theWorld Bank), similarly volunteer tourism exerts power and exploits theOrient as the West ’ s pleasure periphery. Taking the case of Mother Teresa, this study also argues that Christian ideologies, which were sodominant during the colonial days, continue to pervade the structuresand institutions in society with similar hegemonic connotations of privil-ege based on religion and race. Future tourism scholars should investi-gate these remarkable yet somewhat ignored issues in contemporaryvolunteer tourism practices. ARTICLE HISTORY Received 10 June 2017Accepted 16 January 2019 KEYWORDS Volunteer tourism;globalization of suffering;white savior complex;religion; modernity;postcolonialism; whiteness Introduction Scholars have vociferously criticized the western theory of development (Escobar, 1992, 2012; McMichael, 2016; Mittelman, 2010; Pogge, 2010). Apart from consoling the Global South that they will achieve a fairer wealth distribution, international business institutions such as WorldBank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization, United Nations andEuropean Union have failed in their roles as the panacea of international development. Fountain,Bush and Feener (2015, p. 1) opined that  “ development is political and politics shapes develop-ment as we see the world economy is shaped by rules and policies made by political and eco-nomic elites in the Global North who designed and imposed an economic regime that benefitsthe wealthy and pays little meaningful attention to poverty. ”  In a similar vein, Thomas Pogge(2010, p. 7), in his poignant book,  Politics as Usual: What Lies Behind the Pro-Poor Rhetoric, revealed some brutal statistics, for example,  “ 18,000 people die every year of hunger and pov-erty-related causes, 1020 million people are chronically undernourished, 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2500 million lack access to basic sanitation. ”  Pogge (2010,pp. 12 – 13), while pointing out to the income ratio of 273:1 between the rich and the poor,argued that  “ even as little as a 2% shift in global distribution of income from the wealthy to the CONTACT  Ranjan Bandyopadhyay ranjanb_27@yahoo.com   2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM2019, VOL. 27, NO. 3, 327 – 343https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2019.1578361  bottom 45% could wholly eradicate severe poverty. ”  Far from this utopia, in reality, whiletrapped into a huge debt, the Global South not only faces many problems in embracing themodel of development, but also the center-periphery dependency gets distended. As Escobar(1992, p. 25) argues,  “  Third World reality is inscribed with precision and persistence by the dis-courses and practices of economists, planners, nutritionists, demographers and the like, makingit difficult for people to define their own interests in their own terms — in many cases actuallydisabling them to do so. ”  Precisely, a  “ Western style for dominating, restructuring, and havingauthority over the Orient ”  (Said, 1979, p. 3). Pointing to this historical backdrop, McMichael(2016) argued, that the theory of development derives from an old cultural milieu forged duringcolonialism, which still gets perpetuated today by various means. Pogge (2010, p. 2) claims, “ World poverty is actively perpetuated by our governments and officials, and knowingly soand as a consolation the western generosity is being emphasized through the offering of  ‘ development assistance ’ . ”  Religion  plays an important role here, however, scholars haveneglected it for long in the social sciences,  “ which have been profoundly influenced by ‘ secularization theory ’ , the idea that in modernization, religious institutions, actions and con-sciousness lose their social significance ”  (Wilson, 1982, p. 149). Volunteer tourism is one suchcontemporary issue where religion and white supremacy, similar to paternalist imaginary, whichfocuses on European mainstream cultural values, continue to play an important role in consolingand exploiting the Global South. This study argues that volunteer tourism is akin to neo-colonialism and attempts to show thecommonality between the two concepts in terms of romantic ideals of development of theGlobal South by the developed Global North, in the past and once again, in the present times. The similarity between the history of colonization and the current practice of volunteer tourism,and the resulting negative connotations arising from it, are far too significant to be ignored.Scholars have well documented several aspects of volunteer tourism (Brown & Hall, 2008;Conran, 2011; Gray & Campbell, 2007; McGehee, 2012; Mostafanezhad, 2014; Sin, 2009; Zahra & McIntosh, 2007). Although this boom in volunteer tourism research is remarkable, still there is aneed for more interdisciplinary critical studies to examine volunteer tourism from historical anddevelopment economics perspectives. Wearing and McGehee (2013, pp. 122 – 127) pertinentlycalled for  “ more interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, transnational approaches drawing from psych-ology, sociology, political science, anthropology, economics to examine volunteer tourism in amore systematic and logical way. ”  Mostafanezhad (2013, pp. 153 – 164) also lamented that  “ therehas been surprisingly little attention paid to the political economy of volunteer tourism devel-opment ”  and opined that more studies must be undertaken in volunteer tourism to understandit  “ as a historically situated and politically implicated cultural practice ” . Recently, Mahrouse(2010) examined the racialized and gendered dimensions of transnational humanitarian organiza-tions and criticized the ways in which colonial and imperial conditions continue to shape trans-national social justice efforts. In a similar vein, Bandyopadhyay and Patil (2017) have criticallyexplored the racialized and gendered politics of volunteer tourism and argued that whitesupremacy continues to play an important role in tourism today. While many volunteer tourismstudies have acknowledged the significance of volunteer tourism and challenged conventionalunderstandings of socio-economic change in the Global South, the ways in which ideas about globalization of suffering  and  religion and modernity   flow through volunteer tourism and develop-ment discourses are rarely spoken about. Indeed, development today is a fundamental and inva-sive white enterprise (Bauman, 2000; Biccum, 2011; Duffield, 2005) and as Sardar (1999) opined, the real power of the Global North lies not in its massive economic development but rather, inits power to define, represent, and theorize the  “ Other. ”  This study intends to take volunteertourism research into a different trajectory by arguing on the globalization of suffering and thewhite savior complex. In doing so, this study argues how the relationship between white peoplein the Global North and their non-white brothers and sisters in the Global South remainstortured historically. This study also emphasizes the role of religion, which is a neglected issue in 328 R. BANDYOPADHYAY  volunteer tourism research, and apart from few authors ’  research (see Bandyopadhyay, 2018b;Bandyopadhyay & Patil, 2017; Ver Beek, 2006; Van der Veer, 2001; Van Engen, 2000; Wilson & Janoski, 1995),  “ the role of organized religion in volunteer tourism often seems to be the ele-phant in the living room that no one wishes to discuss ”  (McGehee & Andereck, 2008, p. 20). Thus, this study aims to fill an important gap in the tourism literature by addressing few of theforemost contemporary challenges in the world. Postcolonialism and whiteness studies  This study ’ s critique of volunteer tourism development is derived from the theoretical back-ground of   postcolonialism  and  whiteness studies . Frantz Fanon, one of the pioneers of postcolo-nial theory, argued that, it was the colonized people who can truly rebuild their own culture andidentity according to their preferences, which was lost during colonialism. Edward Said andStuart Hall, the other two stalwarts of postcolonial theory, challenged the world of inequalitydeveloped during colonialism and provided a radical reconsideration of contemporary culture(the binary divisions of First World and Third World), thus seeking for equality among differentpeople and cultures. Said (1979, p. 328) in his ground-breaking work   Orientalism  vehementlycriticized the west for creating, guarding and disseminating knowledge —“ systems of thoughtlike Orientalism, discourses of power, ideological fictions, mind-forg ’ d manacles — are all tooeasily made, applied and guarded. ”  Hall (1999, p. 230), considered the father of   Cultural Studies ,clarified the ambiguity of postcolonialism, So,  postcolonial   is not the end of colonisation. It  is  after a certain  kind   of colonialism, after a certain momentof high imperialism and colonial occupation — in the wake of it, in the shadow of it, inflected by it — it iswhat it is because something else has happened before, but it is also something new. Later, Gayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha have enriched the field with their observations.Influenced by Jacques Derrida and Antonio Gramsci, Spivak (1988) in her seminal essay  Can theSubaltern Speak  ? challenges the Eurocentric discourse and attempts to give voice to the silentpeople in the Orient. Bhabha (1994) extended the postcolonial critique and argued that the colo-nial encounter has resulted in a hybrid culture due to the mixing of colonizer and colonizedculture, which he termed as  third space  where the colonized people constantly re-negotiatetheir identity. Drawing on Foucault ’ s concept of discourse, Gramsci ’ s concept of   hegemony  ,Derrida ’ s concept of deconstruction, all these postcolonial scholars unanimously confronted thewestern hegemony. Whiteness studies  became increasingly popular since the early 1990s. As Kolchin (2002, p. 1)mentioned,  “ All around us, American historians and scholars in related disciplines from sociologyand law to cultural studies and education are writing books with titles such as  The WhiteScourge ,  How the Irish Became White, Making Whiteness, The Possessive Invest in Whiteness, and Critical White Studies . ”  Whiteness or white privilege is the way in which white people benefitfrom a racist society, precisely it refers to unjustified advantages that are based solely on whiteskin color. Scholars have argued that privileged white people fail to understand their access topower while the non-whites well realize the lack of privilege. This is how srcinally the conceptof   “ race ”  was constructed — a  “ property that was traditionally owned and used by whites in thesociety ”  (Ladson-Billings, 2000, p. 9). Stuart Hall (1996, p. 258) explained this inequality of power, which is sustained by the white gaze —“ the spectacle of the Other. ”  The white gaze always eval-uates its exotic Other while retaining whiteness at the top of the hierarchy. Cheryl Harris (1995,p. 279) while commenting on the slaves and the slavery system, claims that  “ whiteness is a lawwhich  ‘ propertize ’  the non-whites – whites as subjects and Others as its objects. ”  Despite the ubi-quitous disagreement on white privilege and discussions of postracial and postmodernity in thewestern world among the whites, racism remains widespread (Carr, 2016). JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM 329  Although the term whiteness studies might suggest work that promotes white identity, inreality almost all whiteness studies scholars seek to confront white privilege or racism. DavidRoediger ’ s (1991),  The Wages of Whiteness;  Matthew Jacobson ’ s (1998),  Whiteness of a Different Color;  Toni Morrison ’ s (1992),  Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination;  RuthFrankenberg ’ s (1993),  White Women: Race Matters  and Katharine Tyler ’ s (2012),  Whiteness, Classand the Legacies of Empire  are ground-breaking works in whiteness studies. Following theseradical works, various scholars have examined the construction of whiteness from several discip-linary perspectives. Unfortunately, apart from very few notable works,  “ race ”  in tourism studies isstill a neglected topic. The analysis of this study draws from these postcolonial and whiteness critiques, and bring itto bear on the identities which produce and which are produced by volunteer tourism. The popularity of volunteer tourism and the effemination of the global south Wearing (2001, p. 12) provided a formal definition of volunteer tourism which,  “ can be viewed asa development strategy leading to sustainable development and centering the convergence of natural resource qualities, locals and the visitor that all benefit from tourism activity. ”  Every yearthousands of young adults from the Global North (e.g.   200,000 young people from the UnitedStates alone) flock to the Global South in the name of   “ helping ”  the less fortunate by teachingin schools, building orphanages, saving turtles or nurturing street children (Bandyopadhyay &Patil, 2017). Explaining the popularity of volunteer tourism, Vrasti (2013) writes: Mixing travel and work, hedonism and purpose, charity and self-growth, volunteer tourism seems well-poised to solve the pervasive problem of modern alienation and loss. At a time when the dissolution of wage labour and Fordist social bonds is depriving many people of a sense of social utility and civicpurpose, volunteer tourism ’ s emphasis on useful, charitable work helps young people assert their identity ina world of fragmenting meanings and semiotic confusion. In a similar vein, Muehlebach (2013) commented on voluntary labor, which students precariously included in the labor market, becomes an apt substitute for types of socialityand citizenship that can no longer be obtained from traditional modes of production. On top of this,overseas volunteering also promises an unmediated encounter with pristine cultural objects modelled afterromantic ideals of personal liberation and self-expression. Scholars have claimed that volunteer tourism is simply a form of neo-colonialism. The authoraccepts the above claim of critical scholars and further attempts to show the commonalitybetween the two concepts in terms of the historic and ongoing romantic feminization of theGlobal South by the Global North. Sinha (1995, pp. 18 – 19), for example, argued that by craftingthe stereotype of Indian men as effeminate helped represent Indian men as simultaneously sexu-ally insatiable and inferior to the imperial male. Scholars have well documented that maintainingthe tradition of Rudyard Kipling, Westerners often depict Indian men as  homes manques.  Thissupports Stuart Hall ’ s (1992, p. 297) observation,  “ it was in the process of comparison betweenthe virtues of Englishness and the negative features of other cultures that many of the distinctivecharacterizations of English identities were first defined. ”  Recently, Bandyopadhyay and Dann(2018) explored how British media (newspapers, tour operators, television) serve to construct,frame and represent contemporary  “ Britain, ” “  The Raj ”  and the imaginary relationship with itserstwhile colony, India — it is to return to the times when Britannia ruled the waves.During colonial times, representations in the context of imperialism justified the scientificobjective of ethnography (Spurr, 1991), whereas, the contemporary tourism representations of the savages rekindle  “ imperialist nostalgia ”  (Rosaldo, 1989). Thus, in spite of the recent utopianclaims that tourism is a vital force for peace, however in reality, far from promoting harmonybetween peoples, there is still the division between the superior Global North and the inferiorGlobal South that heeds back to colonial times. Contributing to the gendering of a nation like in 330 R. BANDYOPADHYAY
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