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Tourist Aesthetics in the Global Flow: Orientalism and “Warrior Theatre” on the Swahili Coast

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In this article I bring together two strands of history, namely a longstanding Swahili Coast mercantilism seen in the context of a very permeable ocean frontier, and the much more recent experience of modernity, in some kind of mutual dialogue which engages both global and local outcomes. The broad topic I explore is the development of the Swahili Coast as a tourism “destination” in the late twentieth century. As an art historian, I am particularly interested in the effects of this latest invasion of foreigners (at its peak in the mid-1980s, though lately slowed to a trickle) on material culture, and on the production of identities through its objects and the artists (some of them indigenous and some not) who make them.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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