SURF

Brittany Gabel

Skewed Perceptions: The Ethnic Relations of Tourists and Tour Guides in Costa Rica

International tourism provides tourists with a physical space that allows them to encounter new experiences, exotic places, and unfamiliar cultures. For the most part, these experiences abroad stimulate inter-cultural contact, which results in the formation of an ethnic relation between strangers. My research aims to identify the different affinities, misunderstandings, and stereotypes that can characterize this relationship in the tourist setting of San Jose, Costa Rica. I will study two groups: tourists from the United States who come to San Jose for short-term vacations and tour-guides from Costa Rica who partake in the commodification of culture that comes along with most, if not all, tourist endeavors. Through participant observation and in-depth interviews, I will explore how the commercialization of native culture and the differences in class and race affect and determine the kind of relationship that develops between these two globalized actors.

Message to Sponsor

Like many undergraduates, I have spent much time writing papers, summarizing theory, and compiling case studies to produce something relatively new, but unlike many undergraduates, I will now be given the opportunity to really produce knowledge. I am talking about leaving the country, going out into the field, and truly experiencing a preliminary idea of what it means to be an anthropologist. I will spend the summer in Costa Rica, interviewing strangers and making contacts with people of another culture. I could never have compiled the money to independently fund a research experience like this, but with SURF, it is all possible. Thank you SURF!
  • Major: Interdisciplinary Studies Field
  • Mentor: Nelson Graburn, Anthropology