The Anthropology of Tourism | Travel Blog


Published: September 25th 2023

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Marriott Wardman Park Hotel at NightMarriott Wardman Park Hotel at NightMarriott Wardman Park Hotel at Night


You have met my long-time travel friend, Valene L. Smith, in these pages in my journal entry for 17 September 2010 and in my travel blogs of trips taken long ago. Valene was back in Washington, D.C., again as a speaker at the 114th annual conference of the American Anthropological Association. I met Valene and her husband on Thursday evening for dinner at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where they were staying. (It was also the conference hotel.) It was good to both reminisce with Valene about travels in the 1960s and 1970s and catch up on her latest doings. She was to give two papers on the subject of the anthropology of tourism. Valene literally founded the subject in 1975 with the publication of Hosts and Guests: The Anthropology of Tourism. Tourism itself has changed much since then, with the emergence of different types of travel styles and many more people traveling worldwide after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The subject seeks to understand the impact of the “host” (indigenous peoples in particular) and the “guest” (the traveler) on each other in terms of their cultural values and mutual impressions, as well as study economic and environmental impacts

Anthropology Conference AttendeesAnthropology Conference AttendeesAnthropology Conference Attendees


of mass tourism.

After the conference, Valene and her husband were heading to Munich, Prague, and Nuremberg for the Christmas holiday season. Her husband, Robert Benner, has been into cine documentation of his marine travels and was in search of an archive to deposit his films. (Valene’s first husband, Ed Golay, died in Greenland in 1980.) They have plans to do still more expedition traveling. (They both particularly like taking Arctic and Antarctic expedition cruises and have sailed the Northwest Passage and the northern coast of Siberia in addition to several trips to Antarctica.) In 2006, she published the paper “Adventure Cruising: An Ethnology of Small Ship Travel.” At the conference Valene was also promoting her autobiography, Stereopticon: Entry into a Life of Travel and Tourism Research, to be published in 2015.

I headed home around 9:30 p.m., stopping to take some night photos of the illuminated Old Executive Office Building and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.


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