Dramas of otherness: “First contact” tourism in New Guinea (The 2016 Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture)

Rupert Stasch


This lecture looks at the criss-cross patterns of exoticizing desires felt in meetings between international tourists and Korowai of Indonesian Papua. Tourists idolize Korowai as “Stone Age” people living outside global commodity markets, while Korowai idolize tourists as living by unlimited access to commodity wealth. I suggest that these meetings are powerful and attractive for participants because of several levels of cultural process operating in them at the same time. First, the tourism meetings accrue qualities of transcendental presence from exoticizing stereotypes themselves (including from the stereotypes’ content, their modes of collective circulation, and the feeling of their concrete immanence in sensations of encounter). Second, the tourism meetings agitate participants’ relations to their own normativity. Third, participants enter into situations of working socially and practically on the others’ disparities from themselves.  

Watch the video of the 2016 Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture Here


tourism, primitivism, otherness, transcendence, normativity, agitation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau6.3.003