Troublesome Tourism: Informal Guiding in Yogyakarta by Fermin Suter

It is troublesome to be a tourist. If one is not entirely naïve – or cynical – he will eventually doubt the nature of his experiences. Do these people fool me, cheat on me, do they lie to me, alter certain things or events to please me, protect me from undesirable events? How would people behave ‘normally’, how would it have been, if I had not been around? What is staged, draped, exhibited for the only purpose that is me – us, the tourists – to see it? And, of course, finally: How much of a genuine reality can I actually grasp? But then again: how presumptuous is it to desire such a thing? Doubting the authentic nature of tourist experiences is indeed part and parcel of any touristic reflexivity: the presence of the foreigner (the traveller) inevitably changes the attention, the dynamics of any situation. In this respect, tourism faces ‘problems’ comparable to the ones anthropology has been dealing with for decades. Anthropology has institutionalised questions of how the presence of the researcher in the events, situations, communities, he is interested in is inevitable for any informed perspective while at the same time altering them.