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Tarzan was an Eco-Tourist

Tarzan was an Eco-Tourist: ...and Other Tales in the Anthropology of Adventure

Luis A. Vivanco
Robert J. Gordon
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 340
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  • Book Info
    Tarzan was an Eco-Tourist
    Book Description:

    Adventure is currently enjoying enormous interest in public culture. The image of Tarzan provides a rewarding lens through which to explore this phenomenon. In their day, Edgar Rice Burrough's novels enjoyed great popularity because Tarzan represented the consummate colonial-era adventurer: a white man whose noble civility enabled him to communicate with and control savage peoples and animals. The contemporary Tarzan of movies and cartoons is in many ways just as popular, but carries different connotations. Tarzan is now the consummate "eco-tourist:" a cosmopolitan striving to live in harmony with nature, using appropriate technology, and helpful to the natives who cannot seem to solve their own problems. Tarzan is still an icon of adventure, because like all adventurers, his actions have universal qualities: doing something previously untried, revealing the previously undiscovered, and experiencing the unadulterated. Prominent anthropologists have come together in this volume to reflect on various aspects of this phenomenon and to discuss contemporary forms of adventure.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-195-2
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)
    Robert J. Gordon

    We live in a post-explorer era in which it is widely considered that the feats of the great adventurers are remnants of history and that the Earth’s mysterious places and peoples have long “been discovered.” Yet adventure enjoys ubiquitous status in public culture and late capitalism. Adventure television, from the Discovery Channel to the “reality shows,” is a major growth area. Best-selling books and magazines increasingly feature “extreme content” and narratives of audaciously successful and famously disastrous expeditions. The best selling SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) speaks volumes about the current fascination with adventure and the goods deemed necessary for it....

  7. Part I. The Adventurous Worlds of Simmel and Tarzan

    • CHAPTER 2 Simmel and Frazer: The Adventure and The Adventurer
      (pp. 27-42)
      Aram A. Yengoyan and Johann Gottfried Herder

      Adventure, by its various definitions and by what it embraces, comes in many expressions, some might be near as an aspect of quotidian life, others might be far and distant such as dreams and venturing into totally new contexts. Adventure and anthropology are coupled like Siamese twins. The reasons are numerous and they take us in many directions, thus, I will explore what I consider some of the important ones. The best of adventure might tell us something different and new from normal anthropological enquiry and even from abstract theories like structuralism. Anthropology was born out of adventure, and its...

    • CHAPTER 3 Adventure in the Zeitgeist, Adventures in Reality: Simmel, Tarzan, and Beyond
      (pp. 43-57)
      Daniel Bradburd

      As it recounts Tarzan’s feelings on his first return to the jungle after he has acquired a veneer of civilization, Edgar Rice Burroughs’sTarzan of the Apeshighlights civilization’s constraints. Challenged about his knowledge of lions by fellow Europeans, Tarzan accepts a wager to hunt a lion, naked and armed only with a knife and piece of rope.

      Tarzan had no sooner entered the jungle than he took to the trees, and it was with a feeling of exultant freedom that he jumped once more through the forest branches.

      This was the life! Ah, how he loved it! Civilization held...

    • CHAPTER 4 Tarzan and the Lost Races: Anthropology and Early Science Fiction
      (pp. 58-74)
      Alan Barnard

      In the realm of popular literature, the incipient science fiction of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (roughly from 1870 to 1939) is of special interest for anthropology. Unlike the science fiction of more recent times, such early works had terrestrial rather than extraterrestrial settings.¹ Three dominant motifs were those of “lost races,” “future wars,” and “early man,” and some writers, notably Edgar Rice Burroughs, combined all three. These motifs have great potential for the revelation of popular attitudes toward the “other” during the period, and indeed since then. Much of the imagery of such literature constitutes a transformation...

    • CHAPTER 5 Avant-garde or Savant-garde: The Eco-Tourist as Tarzan
      (pp. 75-90)
      A. David Napier

      Every adventure novel at some level owes its successes to our shared perceptions about how the dignified person (as far back as Homer’sOdyssey) behaved under trying circumstances in alien places. By the eighteenth century, such trials were socially formalized in what came to be known as the grand tour, an extended journey in which any gentleman of means was meant to show his mettle by carrying his manners to places where they might be unusually tested. Like a controlled experiment in the laboratory of life, such journeys depended upon specific and sometimes extreme conditions.

      In a provocative collection of...

  8. Part II. Exhibitionary Adventures

    • CHAPTER 6 They Sold Adventure: Martin and Osa Johnson in the New Hebrides
      (pp. 93-110)
      Lamont Lindstrom

      The twentieth century dawns and the high modernist crash of urbanism, industrialism, bureaucracy, new mass media, and the centralizing state gives young sociologists something to write about. How can society and the individual coexist? In France, Émile Durkheim worries about social stability and community given disparate, often conflicting individual interests. The division of labor, luckily, provides some moral glue. Across the Rhine, Georg Simmel picks up the German end of the stick. He frets that the tightening imperatives of mass society have corroded and subjugated humanity. In response, he produces a series of optimistic portraits of individuals who manage to...

    • Chapter 7 Jacaré: Cold War Warrior from the Jungles of the Amazon
      (pp. 111-124)
      Neil L. Whitehead

      As Rodney Needham (1983) indicated in his inspiring consideration of the literary figure of Tarzan, the realm of the fictive and imagined is a significant site for the appreciation of cultural practice and proclivity. As Needham rightly emphasizes, Tarzan-like constructions may be understood as offering the vision of premodern freedom that liberates the conventional and rule-bound existence of the “civilized.” As a result many such fictions pre-date the Tarzan figure: Rousseau’s “noble savage,” and its variants, the interest in wolf-children, or even the somewhat bourgeois existence of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, also speak to this fascination with an escape from...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Work of Environmentalism in an Age of Televisual Adventures
      (pp. 125-144)
      Luis A. Vivanco

      For millions of American television viewers, the dramatic expression “DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!” is identified with one person: the khaki-clad Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. Irwin’s Discovery Channel wildlife programThe Crocodile Hunterhas been rapidly growing in popularity (and notoriety) since the mid-1990s, with at least one estimate suggesting as many as two hundred million viewers in sixty countries worldwide (Simpson 2001). The Crocodile Hunter phenomenon is based on the quirky Australian’s ability to find, capture, manipulate, and explain dangerous reptiles and animals in exotic locales. He is not a scientist, nor does he claim to be one, but he is...

  9. Part III. High Adventures

    • CHAPTER 9 Five Miles Out: Communion and Commodification among the Mountaineers
      (pp. 147-160)
      David L.R. Houston

      In the remote Western Karakoram mountain range is the plainly named peak of K2. It is the second-highest mountain on earth, with a reputation as a “killer” mountain. Climbing to an altitude of five miles is not a casual undertaking, but many attempt it. To reach K2 in 1953, climbers walked 150 miles through difficult terrain; today, they can fly almost to Base Camp. Today’s expeditions are profoundly different from those of the 1950s, highlighting the contrast between yesterday’s pilgrimage and purity versus today’s commodification and status. This essay offers a perspective of mountaineering through the narratives heard and life...

    • CHAPTER 10 Crampons and Cook Pots: The Democratization and Feminizations of Adventure on Aconcagua
      (pp. 161-178)
      Joy Logan

      Aconcagua-toda adrenalina” [Aconcagua: total adrenaline] was the phrase that stopped me dead in my tracks in the middle of a souvenir ship in Mendoza, Argentina.¹ How, I wondered, could this T-shirt slogan really be referring to the experience of mountaineering on Aconcagua, at 6,962 meters the highest mountain in the Americas? At altitude a mountaineer’s pace is determined, steady, and most often laboriously slow over prolonged periods of time, which belies the heart-stopping kind of exhilaration that the T-shirt suggested. The only way to reconcile these two contradictory images was by imagining that the shirt was marketing Aconcagua to an...

    • Chapter 11 The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love: The Peace Corps as Adventure
      (pp. 179-196)
      Michael J. Sheridan and Jason J. Price

      For the modern American in search of a state-sanctioned adventure there is always the Peace Corps: that far-off other world where the privileged and daring set off to do good and find themselves. More than 170,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps since the program’s inception some four decades ago. The authors of this essay rank in those numbers. Sheridan served as a water technician in Kenya from 1988–1990. Price was a secondary school teacher in Malawi from 1999–2001. We both joined, in part, out of a search for adventure. The Peace Corps provided us with the...

    • CHAPTER 12 Doing Africa: Travelers, Adventurers, and American Conquest of Africa
      (pp. 197-214)
      Kathryn Mathers and Laura Hubbard

      Adventure, as Simmel suggests, is analogous to a love affair—it requires both an act of conquest and a submission to the conquered. This simultaneous conquest and surrender characterizes contemporary travel by Americans to Africa. We argue that it is precisely the act of submission, the giving in to love, that makes the enacted conquest of adventure palatable to the modern American subject. This not only intimates that travel to Africa actually requires an “adventure,” but that the ideal type of the adventurer is critical to the imagined relationship Americans have with the world, one that is often played out...

  10. Part IV. Cross-Cultural Adventures

    • CHAPTER 13 “Oh Shucks, Here Comes UNTAG!”: Peacekeeping as Adventure in Namibia
      (pp. 217-234)
      Robert J. Gordon

      Rereading Simmel, one is struck by how his view of the Adventure creating an “exclave” is similar to Victor Turner’s notions of anti-structure, liminality, and communitas. For Simmel the Adventure is largely experiential fantasy, others and ours, packaged as time away from ordinary life. Most studies of adventure have focused on individual adventures, and this paper suggests that one can extend the notion by incorporating the Turnerian dimension. Transitions, as Turner showed, are situations of uncertainty and danger in which one moves to a new status. Conventional analyses of Adventures see them as entailing a distinctive structural movement, either spatially...

    • CHAPTER 14 A Head for Adventure
      (pp. 235-254)
      Steven Rubenstein

      People typically understand adventures as endeavors that are exciting precisely because they are so risky. This experience is so uncommon that people often must escape, or at least take a break from, their ordinary lives in order to achieve it. Characteristically, though, Georg Simmel reminds us that adventures are successful because they intensify, rather than renounce, the tensions of everyday life. “In the adventure,” he observed, “the interweaving of activity and passivity which characterizes our life tightens these elements into a coexistence of conquest, which owes everything only to its own strength and presence of mind, and complete self-abandonment to...

  11. Part V. Bringing Adventure Home

    • CHAPTER 15 Riding Herd on the New World Order: Spectacular Adventuring and U.S. Imperialism
      (pp. 257-269)
      Keally McBride

      It was the photo opportunity that everyone still remembers. President Bush welcomed the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln back in port. He personally flew the plane accompaniment, landed in a jet fighter, and strutted in pilot garb under the banner, “Mission Accomplished.” Those who did not support the war, or President Bush in general, were outraged. How could he say “Mission Accomplished” when Iraq was obviously a bloody mess? The liberal media spawned a series of commentaries on the event,The Village Voicespeculating that the true goal was to present Bush in a uniform that tightly framed his crotch displaying...

    • CHAPTER 16 Adventure and Regulation in Contemporary Anthropological Fieldwork
      (pp. 270-280)
      David Stoll

      To establish ourselves as professionals, anthropologists have long tended to downplay the adversities we encounter—distrust, opposition, calamity, irreducible ambiguity—in order to protect the credibility of our research. Even the rather attractive category of adventure usually finds a place only in our memoirs or popular treatments, not in peer-reviewed articles and books. Candid portrayals of adventures and the complications they leave behind could undermine the air of impartial authority for which most of us strive. Now that cultural anthropology has become absorbed in how our position as observers affects the knowledge we produce, the anthropologist as adventurer becomes pertinent...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 281-304)
  13. Index
    (pp. 305-320)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-322)