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2016 Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture explores exotic tourism in New Guinea

October 18, 2016
shirtless man in New Guinea shooting a bow and arrowKorowai kombai (Kolufo) with bow and arrow. (iStock)

Event poster showing tribesman and a hiker

Anthropologist Rupert Stasch will give the 54th annual Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture, “Dramas of Otherness: ‘First Contact’ Tourism in New Guinea,” which explores the similarities in the exoticizing stereotypes that tourists and Korowai people create about each other.

The tree house-dwelling Korowai people live on the island of New Guinea in Indonesian Papua. Since 1990 they have been visited by over 50 film crews and thousands of tourists who are motivated by the idea that the Korowai are a “Stone Age society” living outside of global markets and history.

Stasch, a social anthropologist at the University of Cambridge, has worked for more than two decades among the Korowai people. His study, which draws on ethnographic research with tourists, guides, reality television crews, and the Korowai themselves, looks at what happens in actual social interactions between Korowai people and tourists. He finds that their interactions are highly patterned, and that the different participants care greatly about the others and are affected intensely by their encounters. At the same time, Stasch says, each group profoundly miscomprehends many aspects of the others’ experiences.

The October 19 lecture will be held at 7 p.m. in Lander Auditorium of Hutchison Hall on the University’s River Campus. The talk is free and open to the public.

The Morgan Lecture Series honors the memory of Lewis Henry Morgan, the distinguished 19th-century anthropologist and University of Rochester benefactor. The lecture has been presented annually since 1963. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious lecture series in anthropology in North America. Duke University Press will publish a book based on Stasch’s lecture.

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Category: Society & Culture