Happy to announce my latest paper ‘Donors on Tour: Philanthrotourism in Africa’ that I wrote with Rob Fletcher. It has now been published in the flagship journal in tourism studies, the Annals of Tourism Research. The paper theorizes the niche tourism concept of what we term ‘philanthrotourism’, in which NGOs organise trips to development projects for their major donors. Based on two such trips (to Kenya and Ethiopia), we use philanthrocapitalism and the psychoanalytic concept jouissance (a very specific type of ambivalent enjoyment in which the dark and horror side of things instigates fascination) to further theorize this phenomenon. The highlights and abstract:
We offer a novel in-depth analysis of ‘philanthrotourism’.
In philanthrotourism, major donors travel to (their) development projects with NGOs.
We situate the phenomenon within the overarching development ideology of philanthrocapitalism.
The psychoanalytical concept of jouissance helps to explain the attraction of philanthrotourism.
Our analysis offers guidance for exploration of ethical tourism more generally.
Increasingly NGOs organize trips for their ‘major donors’ to visit development projects with the aim to enhance funding streams and fortify donor relations. Building on growing discussions of ‘philanthrocapitalism’ as a novel form of international development financing, we analyze such ‘donor trips’ as a unique tourism niche termed ‘philanthrotourism’. Based on empirical research concerning two such trips to Sub-Saharan Africa, we argue that philanthrotourism allows donors to experience jouissance—a particular type of ambivalent enjoyment that includes fascination with dark and horrific elements—as a core motivation to engage in staged development spectacles via their touristic experiences and thereby affirm their commitment to philanthropy. Our analysis highlights the importance of investigating psychological underpinnings of ethical tourism more generally.