Tourism Gone Astray?

Using the specific examples of the Maasai of Kenya and the Māori of New Zealand, this blog deconstructs how Western perceptions influence the tourist activity of cultural performances and the displayed indigenous people's identities.

Whose interests do these representation serve?

Now that the representations have been established, the important question is how they relate to the Maori today and who's interest its serves.

In the article, "Maasai Warrior Troupe Visits Poole," the efforts of Maasai to raise money from Westerners for their village in Kenya is discussed.  Maasai warriors put on two performances in Dorset:

The combined results

Two main patterns have been identified throughout the 60 articles analyzed.  The first is the use of colonial language.  Words like “tribal,” “primitive,” “savage,” “traditional,” “customary,” were counted as such.  The second identified pattern was the use of stereotypical characteristics or essentialized features of the certain culture.  For the Maasai, words like “Maasai checks,” “warrior,” or “jumping” were used as stereotypical characteristics, while words like “tattoos,” “haka,” or “warrior” were used as stereotypical characteristics for the Maori. 

The Maori are warriors to this day...?

A total of 16 articles about the Maori were found on the BBC website in the advanced search parameters.  The most distinguished pattern is not surprisingly the haka.  Having already gone into detail about the haka in a prior post, I will provide some examples of its use on BBC and its relation to other representations.

Do the Maasai really only behave in "tribal" ways?

In a total of 17 articles for, only nine contained content about the Maasai, while the other eight discussed the Masai Mara.  Almost half of the articles mention or discuss the Maasai in an essentializing way, largely as tribal people.  This type of representation denies the Maasai an opportunity to create a contemporary image of themselves that reflects their currently livelihood.  Today the Maasai are engage in a number of different economies to make a living (anywhere for making jewelry for tourists, to farming, to working an office job in Nairobi). 

Maori Tattoos, Rugby and Nationalism-NYTimes content analysis

Fourteen articles have been published in the NYTimes on the Maori from the time period of January 1, 2011 to November 13, 2011.  In my content analysis, there were three major patterns that surfaced. Maori are most often mentioned in relation to their infamous tattoos (four articles out of fourteen), their haka performance at the beginning of a national rugby game (three out of fourteen), or in reference to a national New Zealand identity (three out of fourteen).

Maasai "checks" as the latest fashion-Analysis of the NYTimes

This post studies the content of online NYTimes articles on the Maasai, using both spellings, from January 1, 2011 to November 13, 2011.  The most surprising detected pattern was the repeated discussion of Maasai checks in high fashion.  The next most common  pattern were short paternalistic or "tribal" descriptions.  Below is a full discussion of my findings.


I would like to explain my methodology for all my news media content analysis. I chose two mainstream news media corporation, one based in the US (NYTimes) and the other based in Britain (BBC). 


In previous posts I have mentioned the haka, an iconic symbol for New Zealand, and now I must expose its significance.  The All Black rugby players perform a rugby-ized  section of the most well known haka “Ka Mate!” As I have mentioned, there are many different types of haka: for rituals, physical conditioning, expressing a social message, intimidation, ect.  The All Blacks perform a haka taparahi, or a haka without weapons used for conditioning.  The context to this world renowned dance will reveal the misappropriation and translation that is used today.

The Guardian: a tourist's shopping mall?

The Guardian portrays tourism like a big shopping mall.  It has its own travels section, much like a business section, as a resource for interested travelers to shop for the best destination and the best activities.  They offer 68 different options for types of travel, ranging from gay and lesbian travel, wildlife holidays, bars and clubs, beach holidays, and green travel.  The only two options that fit under my topic of cultural tourism were cultural trips.

So what is tourism anyways?

There are some general assumptions which need to be addressed when examining tourism.  It is a luxury to be a tourist and for many years only people with a surplus of money and time could go on vacation.  With the increase in ease of travel due to technology, income expansion, increased desire for leisure time, cheaper vacation options, traveling extended its luxury to include a larger percent of the global population (Mathieson & Wall 1982).