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Poverty as a 'theme park': Christian norms and philanthropic forms of Habitat for Humanity

Sanyal, Romola ORCID: 0000-0001-5942-5634 (2004) Poverty as a 'theme park': Christian norms and philanthropic forms of Habitat for Humanity. Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, 15 (2). pp. 19-32. ISSN 1050-2092

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Habitat for Humanity’s newly created Global Village and Discovery Center presents visitors with a stark contrast between replicas of poor urban housing and new Habitat-built model homes. Inadvertently dubbed a “Slum Theme Park” by its creators, the village and center, on 2.5 acres just outside the organization’s international headquarters in Americus, Georgia, is intended to provide middle-class Americans the chance to personally experience conditions of poverty in the developing world. It is also intended to gather funds and attract volunteers for Habitat’s international housing efforts. This article explores the meaning and practices of the Global Village and Discovery Center and attempts to understand its principal motivations. It engages different attributes of the project using a variety of theoretical models: the concept of the “tourist gaze”; the theming of entertainment and heritage parks in general; notions of American volunteerism and philanthropy; and the idea of the urban danger zone as a tourist site. In attempting to connect the literature on development with that on tourism, it concludes by suggesting the project may be viewed as representing both forms of “creative destruction” and “destructive creation.”

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2004 IASTE
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2014 13:10
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2023 12:12

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