Goa is a popular touristic destination for middle-class youth in India. By studying their trips to Goa we renegotiate popular concepts in tourism studies, such as authenticity and escape, from the perspective of non-western tourist experiences. During ethnographic research, including both participant observation and interviews in Bangalore and Goa, interviewees emphasized Goa as a place where they could be their ‘true selves’. They juxtaposed this ‘true self’ with the traditional roles they performed back home. This contrasts with previous tourism studies, which argue that tourism can be seen as facilitating escape from alienating modern experiences. However, the tourist trips relayed in the interviews were highly repetitive. We therefore argue that notions of social practice and scripting of the performances of modern subject positions are more suitable means of interpretation than psychological notions of the self. Goa facilitates not the emergence of the ‘true self’ but rather the enactment of such a position in a scripted manner. We conclude that research on non-western tourists requires a reconsideration of some of the conceptual foundations of the field.
- rethinking authenticity