Orientalism and the Neo-Imperialism of ‘Voluntourism’

Photo: Barbie Savior Edward Said’s criticism of exoticized and patronizing Western views of the East that he claims drive historical “Orientalist” study is echoed in the way that Western development approaches the “developing world,” especially Africa. The millennial trend of “voluntourism” encapsulates this neo-imperialist approach. The term “voluntourism” has emerged as the practice of high school and college-age students spending vacations volunteering in Africa or other parts of the developing world has become more popular. Low-skilled, enthusiastic, well-intentioned Westerners travel to impoverished areas of the world that have long been the losers in colonialist, imperialist, and first-vs-third world orders. Dr....

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