2014-2015 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce

Tourism, Heritage and the Master of Space in Porto-Novo, Benin

Saskia Cousin
(Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Paris Descartes University)

Friday, April 10, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hal
University of California, Berkeley
Since 2005, many international projects have focused on both the heritagization of Porto-Novo, capital of Benin, and issues related to its urban and human redevelopment. Even when projects are diametrically opposed to one another, tourism is the motive given - whether for the protection of colonial and Brasilian-style houses or, on the contrary, the motive for knocking them down in order to build a modern town. In this fight for the regeneration of Porto-Novo, Vodun plays a significant urban, social and political role, even, or because, its power is scarcely compatible with the rather static and consolidating regime of authenticity that characterizes the western heritage imaginary. In short, the strength of Vodun prevents cultural heritage initiatives and town planning projects from succeeding - in the western sense of success. But the tourist gaze feeds its power, even without the tourists.

Speaker Bio:
Saskia Cousin is assistant professor of anthropology at the Center of cultural Anthropology (CANTHEL), Paris Descartes University. She developed a multi-sited ethnography in order to analyse relations between cultural tourism, heritage, politics and identity claims in France, and Benin (West Africa). In addition to her personal research, her aim has been to produce a French Anthropology of Tourism, thanks to ten years of leading a research seminar at the EHESS, the creation of an international research network and a wide range of collaborations. Since October 2012, she is member of Institut Universitaire de France, and develops researches in collaboration with colleagues in computer sciences.

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