10.1080/1683478X.2020.1778154 ">

Poverty alleviation, community participation, and the issue of scale in ethnic tourism in China

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Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

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Asian Anthropology


© 2020 The Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. While tourism development has become an important strategy for poverty alleviation, especially in China’s ethnic minority regions, existing studies observe widespread development problems, including uneven distribution of benefits and the marginalization of local residents. These realities challenge the popular belief in “scaling up” economic growth. Focusing on its gongfen (work-point) system, this article provides an ethnographic account of Upper Langde’s community-based tourism development and its evolution, especially the transition from no outsiders’ involvement to the county-government-directed “second development.” It records stakeholder interactions and narratives in quotidian routines, and reveals the internal village tensions, as well as its conflicts with the county government and the county-government-owned tourism company. Through this case study, I argue that “small” (scaled-down) and “slow” (low or no growth) might be what it takes to strengthen community participation and achieve fair distribution for poverty alleviation.

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