Deserting Transformation: Heritage, Tourism, and Hegemonic Spatiality in Prince Albert

by Haley A. McEwen (Wits Centre for Diversity Studies, University of the Witwatersrand)

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While tourism is often pitched as a panacea for economic growth in developing countries, it has also been shown to reproduce colonial dynamics of unequal power relations between the West and former colonies and between the historically privileged and the oppressed within post-colonial nations. Through critical discourse analysis of data, this article considers  how the mobilization of ‘heritage’ and ‘tourism’ by ‘semigrant power-elites’ in Prince Albert, a rural South African town, reproduces historically inscribed relations of power which remain shaped by the  apartheid era’s use of space in the construction and enforcement of a racial hierarchy.  Analysis aims to intervene in presumptions that tourism development is necessarily a path towards economic empowerment for historically oppressed populations. Interrogation of discourses promoting heritage and tourism development in the town uncovers the ways in which structures of inequality established through colonialism and apartheid can accumulate through tourism development.

Keywords: tourism, heritage, post-apartheid, race, space, semigration

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:
McEwen, H.A. (2013). Deserting Transformation: Heritage, Tourism, and Hegemonic Spatiality in Prince Albert. Diversities, 15(2), 23-36. Retrieved [todaysdate] from
16-01_CoverDiversities • Volume 15, No. 2, 2013
Diversity and Small Town Spaces: Twenty Years into Post-Apartheid South African Democracy
Guest Editors: Richard Ballard and Melissa Steyn
ISSN-Print 2199-8108
ISSN-Internet 2199-8116