Tourism and the development of handicraft production in the Maltese islands

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This paper concerns the links between tourism and the development of handicraft production in the Maltese islands; it focuses on the commercialization of Malta's handicraft production and examines some of the issues and problems that have ensued. The particular case of Malta is examined in the light of growing contention that such development cannot be conceived of universally as a simple unilinear process leading to the inevitable degeneration of crafts, loss of 'authenticity' for the tourists and the cultural prostitution of their producers. Using a range of methods, this paper examines the specific dynamics and particular consequences of the contrasting processes of commercialization of Maltese crafts in response to tourist demand. The evidence from Malta suggests that development is not only multilinear and complex but may also be bi-directional, as products and styles originally produced for an external market sometimes become appropriated into the producer's own culture. In other instances, craft production may split into two distinct lines, with different meanings for the tourists on the one hand and for locals on the other.


Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Life Sciences, University of Surrey, Roehampton, UK

Publication date: February 1, 2001

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