Seeing and Being Seen
Tourism in the American West
David Wrobel and Patrick Long, eds.
You can see them cruising for Indian art in Santa Fe, waiting for Old Faithful at Yellowstone, or pausing for shrimp cocktails on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. The American West attracts vacationers of every stripe, who comb its varied landscapes for the ultimate trip. And for better or worse, those who come to see this multifaceted region have changed what they have come to see.
Seeing and Being Seen explores the history of tourism in the American West and examines its effects on both the tourists and the places and people they visit. Scholars from the humanities, social sciences, and business-Patricia Nelson Limerick, Hal Rothman, and others-join government and National Park Service professionals to investigate the dilemmas that tourism poses for western communities, from economic and environmental questions to cultural change.
“This book is an important contribution to the ongoing debate about tourism in western America. It conveniently collects important scholarship in the field, making it available to the academic community and students of the American West.”
—New Mexico Historical Review
“This collection deserves an audience as diverse as the contributors. The future of Western cultural uniqueness and economic development largely depends upon the wisdom with which we deal with tourism”
—The HistorianSee all reviews...
“A highly recommended read for scholars, planners, environmentalists, and those engaged in the tourism industry. For historians, the book suggests questions on a wide range of issues to keep future generations fruitfully occupied.”
—Journal of Arizona History
“There has been no shortage of hype and shallow thinking about the role of tourism in the modern West—but there has been a severe shortage of the kind of wisdom that comes from thinking hard and historically about tourism. This book offers the region that kind of wisdom.”
—Daniel Kemmis, Director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West and author of Community and the Politics of Place
“Seeing and Being Seen goes to the heart of the dilemmas of tourism in the western United States. . . . Insightful, provocative, and engagingly written, it is a valuable book for anyone with an interest in tourism—from park managers, community leaders, and students of the West to all of us in our recurrent roles as tourists.”
—Chris Wilson, author of The Myth of Santa Fe: Creating a Modern Regional TraditionSee fewer reviews...
The selections are organized around three broad topics: scholarly perceptions of tourism, tourists, and those toured upon; tourism in its historical context, including an assessment of its cultural impact on communities and on tourists themselves; and the history and impact of tourism on the West's national parks, with particular emphasis on efforts to maintain the delicate balance between natural preservation and public enjoyment.
These essays cover the span of tourism history, from early-twentieth-century "See America First" campaigns to the problematic place of automobiles in national parks today. They also pay special attention to policy choices that the growth of tourism sometimes forces on communities, as towns try to bounce back from failed economies by capitalizing on an "Old West" image—or even, in the case of Kellogg, Idaho, "Old Bavarian."
In response, the authors offer suggestions by which communities can begin to make rational choices about the role and place of tourism in their lives. Seeing and Being Seen is enlightening—and necessary—reading for scholars, policy makers, residents of the West, and even tourists themselves.