This category contains 11 posts

Migrant Laborers as Tourists

A few days ago I was walking out of the subway station, when I became aware of a giant, dark blue bag in my field of vision. The bag was on the back of a person a few steps higher up the stairs, so it was directly in front of my face. For a few … Continue reading

The Split Presence of the Tourist: Battambang, Cambodia

While enjoying breakfast in a local restaurant on the street in Battambang, Cambodia, I captured a wonderful moment that highlights some of the contradictions of tourism. Two tourists, sitting in the comfortable posture of the lounge chair attached to the front of a sightseeing tricycle, passed by. Each wore dark sunglasses and large white headphones. They … Continue reading

“Moroccan” (Tourist) Things

Yungang Grottoes: The Missing Pieces Meet The Big Holes

Oh, I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece Hi-dee-ho, here I go lookin’ for my missin’ piece –The Missing Piece (Shel Silverstein, 1976) This afternoon I was doing some cataloging of images when I came across a folder from a few years back. In it I found a few photos … Continue reading

Cannibal Tours

A year ago a student borrowed our university library’s copy of Dennis O’Rourke’s classic film, Cannibal Tours, and never returned. The film is out of print and it has been tough to find a replacement—a big inconvenience because this film is so well done. I know of few films that so effectively make viewers aware of … Continue reading

The Day I Met Superman

Last November a film blog that I regularly read shared a short documentary video that touched me in an unexpected way. It featured Christopher Dennis, a guy whose alter ego is Superman on Hollywood Boulevard. I had never heard of him before, but given my fascination and often adoration of people who create elaborate costumes … Continue reading

Mystery Object #8: Commemorative Flask Keychain

I can think of no better souvenir of a place of natural beauty like Big Sur than a vintage, commemorative, flask keychain shining with reflections of American heritage. A keychain. For car keys. For a car. For driving. With a flask. For alcohol. For Drinking. Seriously. This mystery object sends so many messages on so … Continue reading

God(zilla) Will Destroy L.A.

Just a few days after the New Year, while in Los Angeles, we visited Hollywood Boulevard. While I don’t imagine the beautiful people do a lot of hanging around in that particular neighborhood, it is sacred ground for the global mythology of Hollywood. Visiting the “walk of fame” is, after all, what tourists are expected to do … Continue reading

Rules to Enter Iowa

I was doing some office cleaning this past weekend when I stumbled upon an object I had collected on a road trip back in 2005—a list of “Rules to Enter Iowa” that I had ripped out of a local gazette in a hotel in Dubuque, Iowa. At the time I imagined it might come in … Continue reading

Mystery Object #3: Snow Globes

I have a small collection of souvenirs collected on a shelf in my office. I they are not personal souvenirs, but a teaching collection that I use in a class I teach on the anthropology of travel: Pilgrims, Travelers, and Tourists. For this reason, I have tended to collect the most kitschy souvenirs I can … Continue reading


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