The Tourists And The Toured: Identity In Greenmarket Square

Sophia Perlman, SIT Study Abroad

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


This project explores the intersection between vendors and tourists in Greenmarket Square, a popular arts and crafts market in Cape Town. I examine the way in which the identities of the vendors and tourists are co-constructed in this market setting. I focus, in particular, on how vendors articulate and negotiate their identity through the tourist gaze. In addition, I consider the role of the objects in the co-construction of the tourists and toured identities. My findings are based on data gathered through participant observation with vendors, interviews with vendors and tourists, and content analysis of objects and tourist guidebooks. My understanding of these findings rests on anthropological and sociological theories of tourism. Conceptualizations of the tourist gaze, the self-other, authenticity, cultural consumption and commodification, and postcolonialsim serve as guiding principals of my study. I argue that these aspects of tourism shape the identities of tourists and the toured in Greenmarket Square. Ultimately, I demonstrate the significance of spaces of tourism in the construction of cultural identity and global power structures.