To the Heart of the Wood. Strategies of survival among art vendors in Malawi.
AuthorKirkesæther, Henrik M
The thesis is based on a three-month fieldwork done with art vendors in Malawi. The goal of the thesis has been to document the strategies art vendors employ to make a living in the context of tourism. The attention has also been on the production and sale of what is known as tourist-art, and topics of taste, aesthetics and authenticity in the production of tourist-art, mainly focusing on woodcarvings. The thesis has focused on two key informants, both of whom are art vendors. Other art vendors and tourist were also used as informants. In this thesis, it has been discovered a distinction between art vendors and their cousin category beachboys. However, this distinction is not always clear to people from the outside. Findings suggest that certain types of behaviour in reference with tourists, are strategies of subsistence. These include: begging, harassment and pushiness. These behaviours are necessary strategies of subsistence in a difficult economic situation for the art vendors. Personal relationship with tourists, are also important strategies. These relationships form the building blocks of bartering between art vendors and tourists. Some relationships also continue after the tourists have left Malawi, maintained through social media. Thus, long-term and short-term subsistence is possible, if the right strategies are used, and the right items are offered, items that appeal to the taste of the tourists.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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