Reviving 'white elephants' : a culture-centred approach to the African Ivory Route Tourism Patnership.
This study explores the relationship between the government, private sector and local communities (public-private-community), through tourism and a culture-centered approach to communication for social change. Its focus is on the role of communication processes in amplifying the voices of the subaltern and how power relations affect this resonance in public-private-community tourism partnerships. Grounded in a pragmatic cultural studies approach which is self-reflexive, this study seeks to explore the connection between forms of power and lived experiences. The study is informed by Critical Social Science, which advocates a radical ethics concerned with power and oppression. It encourages the researcher to act as a bricoleur by taking up moral projects which serve to weave collaboration, agency and transformation. Case studies of two tourist camps in the African Ivory Route, which are government-funded, communityowned, and privately-operated, provide the ‘hunting ground’ for exposing the existing communicative processes between the partners and manifestations of power. The relationship between the government, community and private partner will be examined through Lauren Dyll-Myklebust’s (2011) schematic Public-Private-Community Partnership model, which was developed to account for the multiple dimensions of the type of development communication strategies employed in inaugurating operations in a public-privatecommunity partnership tourism initiative. This, together with my own reflexive analysis, will elucidate the kinds of communicative processes that exist in the partnership. An objective of the study is to identify ways in which communication in tourism development partnerships can facilitate subaltern agency. Tourism has often been criticised for its inability to function as a positive vehicle for development. This study aims to show that by listening to the voices of the subaltern, fostering dialogue and encouraging collaboration, tourism development initiatives can empower communities.