ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Political Economy of the Dal Lake Region

Anthropology of Tourism

Tourism is an important industry and provides a livelihood to many communities living in Kashmir, especially those in the areas surrounding the Dal Lake. However, tourism has seldom received attention outside the domain of business and management studies. The houseboat community, agriculturists, business persons and artisans form the core of the tourism industry thriving in the Dal Lake region. A critical understanding of the political economy of the industry is necessary to comprehend some of the challenges confronting the various groups that are the stakeholders of the tourism sector in this region.

Cutting across many disciplines, the subject of tourism is ubiquitously discussed. However, in the context of Kashmir, the debate has attained overtly problematic narratives. It is viewed as a monolithic conceptual problem. Much of the literature on tourism in Kashmir views it as a business, a managerial text,1 or a developmental issue, and tends to focus on the economic aspects of tourism as the actual background to tourist encounters. All these seemingly different strands converge, to fall into disuse, dismissing the temporal and spatial specificities with which the idea of tourism is bound inextricably within the wider cultural and environmental arrangements. Up to the 1980s, the intellectual pursuit of the subject of tourism was seen as superficial and was not respected as are other disciplines like economics, history or political science (Page and Connell 2006).

At a global level, tourism has occupied a seminal space in anthropological research and writings. Contrary to it, tourism in Kashmir has received inconsiderable theoretical and empirical attention, and it has not been explored through frameworks like that of modernity, postmodernity, environmental discourse, cultural studies, or even from a political economy perspective. Without considering these multiple perspectives, no better framework has evolved to even generate meagre literature that would touch upon the realities of contemporary tourism in Kashmir. Moreover, existing theoretical models cut down the space of these cultural groups and artistic troupes, which are not only indispensable for restructuring its touristic landscape but also are the preliminary medium for touristic activities across the Kashmir Valley. At times, state institutions are in complete denial that these tourist sites are actually vital ecosystems with biotic diversity, differences in cultural production and, more importantly, ways of life.

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Updated On : 1st Nov, 2018
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