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Research Article

Theorizing the Gaze in Cultural Tourism: Critical Reflections on the Commodification of Dance Heritage in the Shona Village at Great Zimbabwe Monuments

Author:

Solomon Gwerevende

Dublin City University, ZW
About Solomon
Gwerevende Solomon is currently doing a PhD in applied ethnomusicology with Dublin City University. He graduated with an Erasmus Mundus joint Master Degree in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage jointly offered by the University of Clermont Auvergne, France; Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway; University of Szeged, Hungary and University of Roehampton, United Kingdom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from Great Zimbabwe University and Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Music and Dance) from Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University.
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Abstract

The commodification of Intangible Cultural Heritage ICH in the tourism industry has been practised for an extended period in Zimbabwe. This practice has had both positive and negative implications for indigenous communities and their dance heritage. The performance of indigenous dances at Great Zimbabwe is promoting cultural entrepreneurship by transforming the dances into economic goods for consumption by tourists and to some extent sustaining the livelihoods of the cultural custodians. Three main assumptions shared in the academic literature on cultural tourism regarding “staged authenticity”, “commoditization”, and the “exploitation of the cultural workers” by tourists have been re-explicated and reconfirmed. The main objective of this article is to examine the opportunities and challenges of exchanging indigenous dances for money at Great Zimbabwe Shona Village. The paper also seeks to provide perceptions on how the Karanga cultural custodians re-enact and reclaim their perceived authentic cultural legacy of “Karanga- ness” through cultural performances that attempt to contest European cultural imperialism and the long history of mythologizing Zimbabweans in general and Karanga people in particular.
How to Cite: Gwerevende, S., 2022. Theorizing the Gaze in Cultural Tourism: Critical Reflections on the Commodification of Dance Heritage in the Shona Village at Great Zimbabwe Monuments. Journal of African Cultural Heritage Studies, 3(1), pp.96–117.
Published on 23 Jun 2022.
Peer Reviewed

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