Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities
2009—2010 Forum on Connections
Slum Tourism: A Trip into the Controversy
Slum tourism is a young industry founded just over a decade ago, but it has since become one of the most controversial. It involves Westerners paying money to see the filth of urban slums, and the sordid condition of some of the world's poorest. Is this moral? Do Western tourists self-enhance by seeing the condition of the poor? Are there selfish reasons behind why so many Westerners pay thousands of dollars every year to tour or volunteer in developing countries? And more importantly, how do the slum dwellers feel about being a "zoo animal"? Understanding the slum tourism industry provides us insight into the psychological connection between the West and developing countries.