Tourist Australia: Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park

The following images are from my own trip to Australia in 2013. I had been in Cairns in Queensland for 2 days and my travel companions suggested we visit a site of ‘indigenous cultural interest’….


IMG_0949

 

In some ways this image of the boat is a metaphor of the whole experience…

IMG_0952_4

1150226_10153144921705632_1915652851_n

IMG_0957_2 IMG_0958_2

IMG_0960_3

IMG_0962_3

IMG_0964_3

 

Having already seen and heard widespread racist attitudes towards indigenous people in the town (being told not to walk down certain streets or make eye contact) I was hesitant about buying into a exploitative tourist attraction.  Despite my reservations I went along and as I had expected the experience was a kind of twisted ‘Aboriginal’ Disney land, the epitome of  Said’s orientalism where white people with their phones and cameras oggled at the ‘strange customs’ of the ‘savages’ bare-chested and covered in body paint who performed dances and music and then proceeded to include the tourists in boomerang throwing and other activities. The fetishisation of traditional cultural practices of indigenous people present in this cultural park fed into the  dichotomic paradigm inherent to the orientalist ideology (West/East; modernity/tradition; civilised/barbaric, linear/circular etc.)

It is true that this was their day job, these people lived in the local area and commuted to the park, their role was a kind of acting which in itself one might argue is not exploitative if they are earning a fair wage. However, if we look at this in the wider context of racism towards indigenous people and the challenges in employment and welfare provisions, we see these  job roles differently. It could be argued that through the structural violence enacted on indigenous people their opportunities for employment are limited and therefore so are their choices, resulting in them working in a place that exploits and commodifys their cultural heritage for the entertainment of the ‘white man’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s