Slum tourism

A specialist tourism offering encountered for example in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or in Johannesburg, South Africa – in the case of the former it's also referred to as "favelas tourism", and in the case of the latter as "township tours" (where there is at least a political-historical element involved too). A competing cover term is also "poverty tourism".
Whether such offerings can count as dark tourism or not has been the subject of some debate in academia (I recall a lengthy exchange about this on the mailing list associated with the forum). One argument against is that it doesn't fall under the dark tourism main theme of "sites of death". Not strictly, not necessarily, true, although the wider definition taking in "sites of disaster" may already be closer. Another objection was that it may be borderline from a moral point of view.
And that's indeed the problem I have with this kind of thing – it almost unavoidably has voyeurism at its core, in a way that other dark tourism does not (but see other overlaps and categories beyond dark tourism proper). It's a matter of ethical issues that make ogling at the plight of poor people – as it is happening – different to historical sites where bad things happened in the (more or less recent) past. It is also different to visiting places whose "darkness" is still current but which does not involve gawping at the victims (e.g. Chernobyl).
In recent years there has been an expansion of "slum tourism" in the wake of the success of the movie "Slumdog Millionaire", in particular in India. Still, I have too many reservations about that kind of "thrill" and will therefore not cover it here. Those with other opinions on this issue and who actually have an interest in visiting such  favelas/slums/townships are kindly asked to go and research this elsewhere.  


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©, Peter Hohenhaus 2010-2019

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