The colonial roots of indigenous tourism in Asia

by Zafirah Mohamed Zein

Many people might remember human zoos as a dark, disturbing part of colonial history. But the rise of indigenous tourism begs an uncomfortable question: Do such tours perpetuate colonial narratives, or do they benefit indigenous communities? 

Senegalese village, part of the French pavilion at the Exposition Universelle of 1905 in Liège. Visitors were invited to throw coins which the Senegalese had to dive for (a practice started at the Paris exhibition of 1896). Source: Wikimedia Commons

Have colonial attitudes seeped into the present?
What is indigenous tourism, exactly?
Who are indigenous people?
A cultural and economic asset?
How has tourism affected indigenous people in Asia?
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No sustainable impact from tourism without land rights
Does this mean we should stay away from indigenous tours?
Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at
Data visualisation and research / Munirah Mansoor
Illustrations / Sabrina Yazid
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