Tourism as Science and Science as Tourism: Environment, Society, Self, and Other in Papua New Guinea

West, Paige

The experience of villagers in Maimafu, in the Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area of the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, calls attention to two forms of social interaction between rural people and outsiders that have been little examined in the anthropological literature. One of these is scientific research and the other is scientific tourism, a form of ecotourism that is linked not to science but to self‐fashioning and individual gain. Scientific tourists may be seeking an educational adventure that they can turn into symbolic capital on their return home, a way into the world of science, or an experience that can be turned into economic capital through publication in popular magazines. For both researchers and scientific journalists, New Guinea combines the exotic, the about‐to‐be‐lost, the primitive, the untouched, and the spectacular and is therefore a powerful space for imaginary and representational practice.

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Anthropology (Barnard College)
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May 23, 2014