Tourism as Cultural Strip-Mining

Maciej Cegłowski writing in 2016 from Antarctica:

The usual dynamic between locals and tourists is backwards in the Ross Sea. Everywhere else in the world, tourists are the ones ruining everything, showing up in hordes, drinking hard, contributing nothing but money to whatever place they’ve chosen to culturally strip-mine for their entertainment. The locals have to struggle to reclaim the quiet life that attracted the tourists in the first place, and their connection to home is eroded by having to role play for a changing cast of strangers. Regrettable t-shirts are printed and sold. A Señor Frog’s opens. It’s grim.

Here, though, the tourists are the ones keeping it real. McMurdo is a scar on the landscape, the least natural place in Antarctica, and most of the people working here are seasonal transients. They come down for a sense of adventure, clean grease traps for six months in a windowless building, and go back to where they came from. The only natives in Antarctica are penguins, and you can spend years at the American base without seeing one of them.


Khürt Louis Williams's picture
Khürt Louis Williams on June 26, 2019 - 16:15 Permalink

As someone from the West Indies, I fall bullshit on that article. Is the author suffering from some form of white guilt?

Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on June 27, 2019 - 04:16 Permalink

As someone with a globe, I'm not seeing how living in the West Indies relates to this report from the South Pole. Is there some place called McMurdo in the West Indies? I'm sure it's much nicer there.