We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Crang, M. Travelling ethics: Valuing harmony, habitat and heritage while consuming people and places. Geoforum. 2015;67:194-203.

Author(s) from Durham


A variety of ethical tourism initiatives have arisen which look at the distribution of benefits and costs arising from the movement of western tourists who are consuming places in the Global South. This paper troubles those positions. Taking the case of the rise of domestic tourism in China, the paper examines the linked patterns of ethnic and nature based tourism. Theories of how natural and cultural heritage are valued by tourists are typically derived from Western historical precedents. Notions of individualised, romantic modes of consumption of pristine nature may well be inadequate in other contexts. The paper examines the double edged role of Chinese notions of harmony of people and nature in offering new opportunities for development for poor minority groups whilst also enrolling them in 4 modes of governance that turn them into bio-cultural resources. Looking across examples drawn from Yunnan in South Western China, the paper identifies how environmental ethics are mobilised and script minority identities in 4 ways: the valorisation of geopiety, blurring nature and culture in geotourism, in quests for rural simplicity, and celebrations of place based folk culture that simultaneously render it mobile. The rise of domestic environmentally concerned tourism is shown to fit the emergence of an ecological but market led mode of governance over minority groups.

Department of Geography