Maintaining the Gullah history, heritage, and culture : is ecotourism a viable solution?
Tyler, Sairah Mae
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This thesis evaluates the potential of ecotourism as an alternative form of development for a population significantly impacted by more traditional forms of mass tourism. The focus is on a community on St. Helena Island in South Carolina, of which a large portion is the Gullah. The Gullah are descendents of slaves from Western Africa who have been able to maintain their language, religious beliefs, rituals, foods, music, and crafts that distinctly connect them to their African roots. Ecotourism has often been utilized in the developing world to improve the ecological, economic, and cultural situation of indigenous communities, yet it can also be appropriate within the developed world. Theoretical considerations include the exploration of when ecotourism may or may not be viable depending on local contextual factors. Pertinent ethical considerations include whether it is moral to market a culture, and if tourism is simply artificial maintenance of a dying culture.