The commodification and representation of Nepal in international tourism, by Bal Krishna Sharma
Sharma, Bal Krishna. 2016. The commodification and representation of Nepal in international tourism. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI.
This dissertation investigates discursive practices in the context of tourism which serve to portray the linguistically and culturally diverse cultures of Nepal as desirable commodities for linguistic and cultural outsiders. Largely from the perspective of Nepali tourism workers, it analyzes the reproduction and circulation of these discourses in the contexts of educational training and encounters with tourists. By analyzing tour guides’ tour discourse, training discourses in a tourism literacy program, and interviews with multilingual tourism workers, I ask what linguistic, cultural, and ethnic resources are presented as valuable in Nepali tourism. Using ethnographic discourse analysis, I investigate what exactly happens in situ in tourist-guide encounters to understand how these discourses construct and (re)produce authenticity as an object of experience for cultural outsiders. I also examine tourism workers’ views on the dominant tourism lingua franca, English, to better understand how ideologies of English relate to the commodification of language. I also analyze the role of indigenous minority languages in the tourism industry, finding that the construction and circulation of linguistic and cultural identities in Nepal’s ethno-linguistic minority contexts are not only commodities for the tourism market, but also a means of claiming legitimacy amidst the ongoing political state-restructuring and ethnolinguistic movements within the country. Ultimately, this dissertation addresses the sociolinguistic question of to what extent tourism invokes linguistic, ethnic and cultural essentialism in an era when there is ever more awareness of cultural differences and sameness. Overall, then, my research adds to a growing body of work in sociolinguistics on the discursive representation, commodification and encounters of languages, cultures, identities, and peoples in the context of international tourism.