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Pomona College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development


Ethnic tourism is an amalgamation of all the faucets within Bahia’s society from religion to food to dance. In particular, Afro ethnic tourism, which is the tourism that brings African American tourists to Bahia, thrives on the African American interaction with these faucets and most importantly with the Afro Brazilian people. Although it is grand cultural experience, previous research discusses how tourism, and specifically ethnic tourism, is a modern version of imperialism as tourists objectify and romanticize the host country, people, and culture. Additionally, when ethnic tourism is discussed, it is often spoken about in snapshots that capture the external experience of the tourists who indulge in Bahia’s beauty and the viewpoint of the Bahian government. Though the research provides a theory that draws on the ethical issues formed in a tourist-host dynamic, it neglects the voice of the Afro-Brazilians whose culture is the foundation of Bahia and the product of this process. This ethnographic study, with partial auto-ethnographic takes, is mainly focused upon sharing the opinions and sentiments of the Afro-Brazilian women and men in Bahia whose spaces and occupations work jointly with Afro ethnic tourism. The study provides a space for the individuals from the government (Bahiatursa) to explain the importance of Afro ethnic tourism to Salvador and to its Afro-Brazilian people. In order to get an eclectic perspective, the study draws upon the experience of individuals’ from/working with Bahiatursa, Ilê Aiyê, Irmandade da Boa Morte, as well as independent tour guides. Through open dialogue with Afro-Brazilians who play a significant role with Afro ethnic tourism, a central occurrence was highlighted. The use of Blackness, whether it is through selfidentification or through acknowledgement of a shared African ancestry as a point of connection, helps to create relationships amongst Afro-Brazilians and African Americans. With vastly different opinions on the Brazilian government’s respect for Afro-Brazilians culture, this chance to develop relationships makes Afro ethnic tourism a space for culture linkage and transfer of knowledge. There are impediments, like African Americans seeing Bahia through an Americans lens and the rewriting of historical facts to satisfy/replicate the African American experience. However, the cross-cultural pride of Blackness reveals how Bahia, as the preserver of African tradition, can offer opportunities to all people on both ends, especially the youth.


Place and Environment | Race and Ethnicity | Social Psychology and Interaction | Tourism


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