Lawrence Culver: WSJ takes note of his HNN article about tourism

Historians in the News

Historians often have regarded tourism as an exploitative and destructive force on communities throughout the U.S., a view that one scholar finds too limited. Within the academy, the development of tourism in the U.S. has been framed as a story of resort towns that trap the locals into low-paid jobs and make housing unaffordable, says Lawrence Culver, an assistant professor of history at Utah State University. Local culture, meanwhile, gets stamped out in favor of more homogenized amenities. But Dr. Culver writes in online publication History News Network that this interpretation ignores tourism’s significant positive influences. The protesters who organized “swim-ins” at segregated beaches during the civil-rights movement or business people who created resorts where African-Americans could feel at home used “tourist leisure and recreation as an experience of racial solidarity.” Historians also should take more interest in how tourism itself evolves in a particular location, Dr. Culver says. Consider Palm Springs — it started as a tuberculosis colony, then became a favorite of the Eastern elite, then a Hollywood playground, then a retirement community and then a source of gambling revenue for Native Americans.

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