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Shayane Delencourt-Simon Title : Power, agency and storytelling of South African tour guides

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10:30 AM, Tuesday 22 Jun 2021 (30 minutes)
Power, agency and storytelling of South African tour guides


Shayane Delencourt-Simon

This paper addresses the lack of critical analysis of the relationship between tour guides and visitors and how storytelling indicates a guide's agency. The project investigates how historical events inform the identity of a nation and influence tour guides, and asks how guides use their personal identity, thus their agency and power, to create a new narrative of their community. The thesis is that tour guides use their own personal histories in their storytelling to construct new narratives of struggles sites in South Africa. Tour guides’ identities influence their storytelling as they construct the historical memory of their community. Tour guides are influenced by participants' characteristics, yet are increasingly able to input their own opinions.The methodology consisted of semi-structured interviews about guides’ views of community, change and identity, and participant observation of each tour. The findings were produced through discursive/Foucaldian and Social Identity Theory, and support my hypothesis of the different aspects of identity, such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, and relationship to apartheid, as influencing the storytelling of guides. Guides use their agency most strongly near sites of personal interest, and the impact of the identities of tour participants likely influences how honest guides are in their storytelling. The findings add to the body of work by detailing how storytelling and identity are important for analysis in terms of measuring agency in tourism workers, and investigates how guides’ worldmaking through storytelling represents the intent of bottom-up cultural workers to define their own spaces.

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