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Examining the role of culture in the sustainable development of rural community tourism in Jamaica
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Examining the role of culture in the sustainable development of rural community tourism in Jamaica


Ernest Taylor, 3rd year PhD student at Coventry University, discusses his research and findings so far regarding community culture and tourism development in Jamaica, including the use of Ethnographic …

Ernest Taylor, 3rd year PhD student at Coventry University, discusses his research and findings so far regarding community culture and tourism development in Jamaica, including the use of Ethnographic research methods.

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  • 3. BACKGROUNDResearchQuestion: What isthe role of culturein the sustainabledevelopment ofrural communitytourism inJamaica?
  • 4. Aim: Overall aim of this study is to examine the role of culturein galvanising the sustainable development of rural communitytourism in Jamaica.
  • 5. O B J E C T I V E S Assess to what extent local peopleExamine the meanings are galvanised to capitalise on theirculture holds for rural tangible and intangible culturalinhabitants and how they act heritage in pursuit of sustainabletowards these rural community tourism.interpretations.
  • 6. METHODOLOGYEthnographicfieldworkemployingparticipantobservation, semi-structured andfocus groupinterviews andphotographs.
  • 7. DEFINING CULTUREIn this study culture istaken to be ‘a product ofhuman interaction that cangalvanise social action bydrawing on intangible andtangible cultural heritage,present and pastexperiences andknowledge to sustainhuman development andexistence’
  • 8. Initial study focused onfour rural sites:Beeston Spring –situated close to majorresort; Seaford Town –German heritage;Charles Town -indigenous Maroonsand AmbassabethCabins – eco tourism.
  • 9. THE MAROONS• Maroons draw on their African roots to make sense of their realities, sustain their existence and as a source of pride and empowerment.• Accounts of Maroon resistance against British slavery and colonialism is a key factor in their story.
  • 10. THE GERMANSThe Germans, whoarrived in 1835, are keento eschew allegiances toGermany.Instead, they assert their‘Germaicaness’ as a markof solidarity with those ofAfrican descent with whothey say their future lie.
  • 11. DISCUSSIONBoth Charles Town and Seaford Town suffer chronic social andeconomic problems in terms of lack of education and poverty.With unemployment above 50 per cent, particularly amongmales, there is urgency for new income streams.
  • 12. DISCUSSIONBoth communities were deemed appropriate to answer theresearch question, because the human element, tangible andintangible, is the primary focus in their efforts to developsustainable rural community tourism initiatives
  • 13. PRELIMINARYFINDINGSThis focussedattention on localpeople’s way of life– their culture: howthey make sense oftheir existence andthe meanings theseinterpretations holdfor them
  • 14. PRELIMINARY FINDINGS• Dichotomy in how each community approach the commoditisation of their culture in pursuit of sustainable livelihoods.• Maroons – exude great pride in articulating their culture and place great significance on links with their ancestors
  • 15. PRELIMINARY FINDINGS‘We cannot separateourselves from our ancestors.Cultural identity is who weare. Cultural identity providesyou with an anchor of whoyou are, and what thenshould be guiding you in yourdecisions,’ Frank Lumsden,Colonel of the Charles TownMaroons.
  • 16. PRELIMINARY FINDINGS• The Germans on the other hand, appear subdued, somewhat shy. They maintain no links with their ancestors nor express any real desire to do so.• ‘It’s like the Germans were living in a remote, very remote place like on top of a hill totally cut off … but you can’t live in isolation, you must be part of a global network. They were a little bit lost, they lost that richness of their culture,’ Rita, Non- German member Seaford Town NGO.
  • 17. PRELIMINARY FINDINGS‘Jamaican life is the only life I know. I noticed that the African(descendants) always want to go back to Africa, but I don’t knowanything about Germany. It is my Motherland, but I don’t knowanything about it, and I have the sixth sense to tell me that if I stayin Jamaica I will survive better,’ Delroy, age 70, 3rd generationGerman descendant.
  • 18. THEORETICAL UNDERPININGS The symbiotic relationship between tourism and culture is well documented. However, the contested and diverse nature of culture, makes understanding its role in the sustainable development of rural community tourism in Jamaica complex.
  • 19. THEORETICAL UNDERPININGS Pinderhughes (1989: 6), a clinical psychologist, suggests the ‘perspectives of open systems’ as a way of understanding culture. This approach takes account of emotion and wellbeing, the individual, family, subgroup, social system and geographical setting. Ethnicity denotes ‘connectedness based on commonalities’ (Pinderhughes 1989: 6)
  • 20. CULTURAL LINKAGESThese notions of emotionalwellbeing and culturalconnectedness appear to resonatein both Charles Town and SeafordTown. In Charles Town they seemto be represented vertically andhorizontally, external and internalin that the Maroons maintain linkswith their African ancestors(vertical/internal) and
  • 21. CULTURAL LINKAGESwith fellow Jamaicans bothnationally and locally(horizontal/external). TheGerman descendants whoappear to have abandon all linkswith the Motherland in embraceof their ‘Germaicaness’, seem tomaintain only horizontal/externallinkages – national and local
  • 22. CULTURAL LINKAGES• Vertical connectedness refers to time, history, one’s continuity and pre-conscious cultural patterns of emotion and behaviour and horizontal is association with others who share similar outlook and behaviour, a ‘bridge to all that is external’ (Pinderhughes 1989: 10).• Maintaining ‘these vertical and horizontal linkages, cultural identity guards against emotional cutoff from the past and psychological abandonment in the present’ (Pinderhughes 1989: 10).
  • 23. CULTURAL LINKAGES• The Maroons appear to exhibit a ‘cultural sense of self’ and a ‘healthy self-esteem’, while the Germaicans seem to be afflicted by emotional disconnect imbued with impetuosity (Pinderhughes 1989: 10).• The following comments give an example of this disconnect and connectedness that is emerging from the data:
  • 24. PRELIMINARY FINDINGS ‘Growing up I don’t hear much things about Germans. My fatherdid not mention much about Germans, even though he is ofGerman ancestor. I don’t, I don’t hear much, you understandme? So, we don’t’ know what to, what to develop on or what topass on to my children, or my niece and nephew…I just aJamaican, basically. To me, it’s like it’s dying now, I don’t knowwhat to pass on. It’s not that I got it and then I didn’t pass it on.The only culture I got is the normal ‘duppy’ story and slavery…,’Marian, daughter of 3rd generation German descendant,Seaford Town.
  • 25. PRELIMINARY FINDINGS‘It is a great place just to come and free your mind anddance out your life,’ Female Maroon dancer, commentingon the Maroon’s Safu Yard.‘If you are not clear about your own culture you will be affectedby foolishness,’ Col Lumsden, Charles Town.‘There was a concern about the Maroon culture being lostand we wanted something to pass on to our children andgrandchildren – that was one of our main objectives,’Sharon, a Maroon Elder on establishing the Charles TownMaroon Council.
  • 26. PRELIMINARY CONCLUSION•The vertical/horizontal framework in some way helps to explainthe relationship between cultural identity/connectedness andsituatedness.•The significance of this on establishing the role of culture in thesustainable development of rural community tourism in Jamaicais that culture is a potent resource for tourism development andunderstanding how these processes interact may help shed lighton why some communities are more galvanised in utilising theircultural heritage than others.