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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Marketing Vodun: cultural tourism and dreams of success in contemporary Benin
Author:Forte, Jung Ran
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines
Geographic term:Benin
cultural heritage
women entrepreneurs
Abstract:Since the 1990s the Republic of Benin, following a path similar to other West African countries, has established itself as a destination for cultural tourism, in which history, ethnic traditions, ancestral values and indigenous knowledge figure as main attractions. The study of recent developments of the Beninese tourism industry sheds light on the ways in which meanings and commodities are produced in encounters between 'hosts' and 'guests'. Reconstructing the polyvocal biographical narratives of two women engaged in tourism activities, a tourist guide and a Vodun priestess, the article analyses local responses to tourists' flows while addressing questions such as cultural consumption and the harshness of global markets. In order to understand how representations of 'Africanness' and 'tradition' are produced and negotiated, and how cultures are commodified and transformed into artefacts of economic transactions, this paper draws attention to the dynamics through which Vodun cults have been re-fashioned as a national cultural heritage and as sites of the Atlantic slave trade memory, becoming the main cultural assets of the country for international audiences. The author blurs the boundaries between tourist worlds and everyday life and combines national policies and intimate stories to look at the ways in which local agents perform and re-signify their culture and experience encounters with 'others', while exploring paths of 'entrepreneurship' and success. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]