‘Boy, have we got a vacation for you’: Orphanage Tourism in Cambodia and the Commodification and Objectification of the Orphaned Child.
However well intentioned, orphanage tourism locates and commodifies children as objects of rescue fantasies, objectified as adorable innocents, waiting to be loved by enthusiastic westerners. Cambodia offers holidaymakers an exotic destination in which to act out and indulge their contemporary fantasies of compassion and care. Through explorations of both popular cultural representations of the ideal vacation and the orphanage tourist industry - as well as my own observations and interviews with orphanage tourists in Siem Reap - I will reveal how closely notions of the ideal vacation parallel orphanage tourism in Cambodia. As part of a wider qualitative study of the volunteering experience, this paper seeks to critique the problematic relationship between a touristic experience and the needs of Cambodia’s poor children
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