Slumturisme i Dharavi

Sabrina Katja Hansen, Leander Berg Andersen, Alexander Allan Marker, Nanna Skov Larsen, Mohidin Mohamed, Mayasa Aziz Ali & Rebecca Marie Little

Student thesis: Termpaper


This project seeks to explore the cultural encounter between tourists and guides, which emerges through slum tourism in Dharavi, Mumbai and thereafter discuss the possible consequences this may have for the local inhabitants in Dharavi and the tourists’ conceptions of the so-called slum. This statement of intent is explored through an anthropological field study in Dharavi, where participant observation is the project’s main method for obtaining knowledge about the encounter. Through utilization of e.g. Stuart Hall’s theory regarding the ‘West and the rest’ discourse, Edward W. Said’s term ‘Orientalism’ a thorough analysis of the guides’ narratives is conducted, which serves the purpose of understanding the Dharavians from within, whereafter the results are put into relation with the tourists’ perceptions of the area. By dividing the analysis in two parts a cumulative understanding is gained, which serves as a foundation for exploring the power relations, which exist between the two groups. The analytical results show that the tourists’ perceptions about Dharavi are characterized by extreme poverty, hardship and crime. Furthermore, the analysis illustrates a highly complex power relationship, where a power negotiation regarding who gets to define Dharavi and its inhabitants take place. The results demonstrate that the guides’ narratives challenge and thus nuance the tourists’ preceding perceptions about the urban area, however does not rid the tourists of speaking within the ‘West and the rest’ discourse, which is deeply embedded in their image of Dharavi as belonging to the ‘rest’. Therefore, it is concluded that the tourists gain the more powerful position, as it is ultimately them and their perceptions of the urban area, which leave Dharavi and have the ability to reproduce the ‘West and the rest’ discourse. As the guides mainly stay in Dharavi, their view cannot affect the above-mentioned discourse, unless the tourists embrace the guides’ narratives. The negotiation of how Dharavi should be perceived, is essential to Dharavi’s future, regarding whether the informal urban area should be gentrified or protected.. This project does not seek to supply a final answer to whether or not slum tourism is a negative or positive phenomenon, but stresses the necessity of including the Dharavians in decisions regarding the future of their home.

EducationsCultural Encounter, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Undergraduate or graduate
Publication date19 May 2014
SupervisorsLars Jensen


  • Dharavi
  • Slum Tourism
  • Hall
  • Mumbai
  • Power
  • Said