Ours to Explore: Privilege, Power, and the Paradox of Voluntourism

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U of Nebraska Press, 2021 - Business & Economics - 272 pages
In a 2014 essay that went viral, Pippa Biddle revealed the inequities and absurdities baked into voluntourism--the pairing of short-term, unskilled volunteer work with tourism. In the years since, Biddle has devoted herself to understanding the origins, intentions, and outcomes of a multibillion-dollar industry built on the premise of doing good, and she tracks that investigation in Ours to Explore.

The flaws of voluntourism have included xenophobia, racism, paternalism, and a "West knows best" mentality. From exploitative orphanages that keep children in squalid conditions to attract donors to undertrained medical volunteers practicing their skills on patients in developing regions and to those looking for an inspiring selfie, Biddle reveals the hidden costs of the voluntourism complex. Along the way, readers meet inspiring activists and passionate community members, as well as thoughtful former voluntourists who still work to make a difference--just differently.

Ours to Explore offers a plan for how the service-based travel industry can break the cycle of exploitation and suggests strategies for travelers who want to improve the places they visit for the long haul.



A Woman in India
A Certain Kind of Tourism
Cars Planes and Resorts
The Alternative Tourism Boomerang
The Age of Voluntourism
Colonial Pathologies
Faith Purpose and Mission
An Indictment
Turning Tide
The Future of Voluntourism
On to an

The Development Conundrum
Playing Doctor
Teaching Children

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About the author (2021)

Pippa Biddle is a writer based in the Hudson Valley. Her work has been published by numerous publications, including the Atlantic, Guernica, AMC Outdoors, Maine Magazine, and Wired.

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