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Browsing by Subject "tourism experience"

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  • Häkkinen, Anu (2017)
    Kawah Ijen is the picturesque crater of the Ijen volcano located in Eastern Java, Indonesia. However, it is not just any volcano crater, as it happens to be the locus of labour-intensive sulphur mining operation. Each day up to 15 tons of sulphur is extracted from the Ijen crater by the 350 men working as manual miners. These men carry even 100 kilogram loads of sulphur out from the crater with bare brawn and the work is with no doubt burdensome. Kawah Ijen's natural beauty has also caught the interest of tourists', and the crater has become commodified as a tourism destination, visited by hundreds of international tourists each day. Thus the storyline of this master's thesis is two-fold. The first research objective scrutinizes the Kawah Ijen sulphur mine from a commodity chain perspective, emphasizing the tough work the sulphur miners have to bear in order to satisfy the needs of the consumers at the end of the chain. The second, and the essential objective of this research in turn interrogates how the presence of the sulphur miners has become also an inevitable part of the Kawah Ijen tourism experience. In this the aspiration is to elucidate how the sulphur miners have become aestheticized as a Global South tourism attraction. In other words, this research aims to interrogate the peculiarity of this reality, by exploring how both trade and culture, and human and commodity mobilities are entangled and enshrouded within the crater of the Ijen volcano. In human geography, a research framework of 'Follow the thing' has been adopted by scholars in order to study the geographically far-flung production chains of consumer goods. As a framework it aims to make critical political-economic connections between the consumers and distant, and often also underprivileged, producers. In this Marxist-influenced undertaking emphasis is placed particularly on commodity fetishism. This notion has been mobilized to illuminate how consumers have become alienated from the means of production, in their symbolically-laden everyday consumption. As sulphur is a raw material needed in the production processes of many goods such as white sugar, fertilizers, medicines, and rubber, this research shows how these commodities were 'followed' into their origins to this particular sulphur mine. During a period of field work, a method of participant observation was utilized to get contextual understanding of this production site. The initial research objective is therefore to make connections and create awareness of the inequalities within commodity production networks. In the final research objective of this master's thesis, a postcolonial approach is mobilized to critically interrogate this initial setting, in which the miners are seen as poor and stagnant producers. Thus the Kawah Ijen tourists are taken under lens in order to gain understanding of this touristic encounter nuanced with cross-cultural and socio-economic differences between the tourists and the miners. Therefore the setting of Kawah Ijen will not only be observed as a place of production, but also as a site - and object - of consumption. By analysing blogged travel stories written by the tourists themselves, this research aims to illuminate what the tourism experience of the Kawah Ijen is about in the realm of consumption. Special attention is given to how the encounter with sulphur miners has become a constitutive part of the adventurous and authentic tourism experience of Kawah Ijen. The blog post analysis on the Kawah Ijen tourism narrative shows how the imaginaries of the sulphur miner as the 'Other' are adhered to, as the tourists construct their travel identities, make meaning of their experiences and finally represent their experience to the outside world. Finally this research aims to make ruptures to Global South fetishism by elucidating how the Kawah Ijen sulphur mine has become both commoditized and fetishized in its own right. In this fetishzation process the sulphur miners are depicted as poor and primitive, which as categories act as symbols for authentic tourism consumption in the social frameworks of the tourists. However, the aim is not to demonize the tourists, but to give recognition to the nuanced personal and social realities they are embedded in their consumption. Hence, the tourism experience of Kawah Ijen is constructed through a point of view more sensitive to the subjective negotiation of authenticity. It is argued that the Kawah Ijen tourism experience is a process in which the meaning of the experience is negotiated in a wider framework, which is vicariously embedded in postcolonial discourse. Finally, it is concluded that although there is some unequal power relations at presence in the tourism consumption of Kawah Ijen, the tourism can be the means to make more sustainable living for the miners. The leapfrog from the mining to tourism has to be only carried out in a deliberate way with respect to all of the stakeholders.