Mediating Encounters : The Establishment of Relations as a Channel for Being

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201706064670
Title: Mediating Encounters : The Establishment of Relations as a Channel for Being
Author: Irwin, Joshua James
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Sosiaalitieteiden laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för socialvetenskaper
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2017
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201706064670
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/191517
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Sosiaali- ja kulttuuriantropologia
Social and Cultural Anthropology
Social- och kulturantropologi
Abstract: This thesis is not an analysis of trekking as an activity; rather it is about a specific form of tourism as a type of relationship in the world, which can affect modes being in the world. That is ethnic tourism in Pai village Mae Hong Son province Thailand. By examining so called “Hill Tribe” trekking tours as a point of inquiry into forms of touristic interaction I hope to expand on the notion that the ability to enact and manipulate various social roles opens up new channels for being in the world. The overall focus on guides who lead such tours is intended to help elaborate on the fluid nature of social roles and relations. Being at once local actors and conduits to the outside world, through their interaction with tourists, guides fill a unique role in the specialized network of relations that is modern tourism. The approach this study has towards tourism as a specialized type of encounter offers us the potential to better understand why people actively seek out encounters with other cultures, in other places This thesis attempts to develop the argument that through interaction with tourists trekking guides operating out of Pai village in Thailand sell experiences of place and people where in guides themselves come to be symbolic representations of place for their clients. As a type of commodity these experiences are the manifestations of idealized states of being which become subjectively real through interaction; when actors create one another. Through the mediation of experience and encounters trekking guides develop and enact their social role; during the physical act of guiding they come to embody a local setting as they guide tourists through space and interactions to create a local picture of reality under a foreign gaze. Tourism is approached here as a behavior or activity about forging relations between discreet groups of actors as they encounter one another in places for tourism. It is in this line of thought that I try to move away from such an analytical sphere wherein all social acts are ultimately acts of destruction, to one where we instead view human action as being about the social production of other human beings in relation to the self. The physical activity of “Hill Tribe” trekking tourism from the perspective of the tourists is seen here as a specialized type of behavior which actively produces persons through movement in space and time, and interaction with and relation to idealized others. More than anything tourism must be what it results in, a type of relationship defined by new encounters. What the tourist seeks to gain from any given encounter is an essential building block in the relational process of being which we call tourism. People acting in relation to other people with the goal of effecting particular outcomes creates shared realities, in which persons come to understand the self through its relation to others. Therefore the experiences gained through entering into the relational state of being we call tourism hold higher potentials for the active social production of relations rather than a destructive potential for social consumption when tourists and local actors become engaged in the mutual act of inter-personal creation of the other.
Subject: tourism
Thailand
trekking
encounter
place
relations
roles
experience


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