Featured article: "Okinawan Heritage and its Polyvalent Appropriations"

Otori ceremony at Sutsupunaka Festival

UNESCO’s initiative to create a shared, global schema of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) has generated considerable debate across disciplines on the efficacy and consequences of heritage designation. Such criticisms tend to rely on presumptions born from the ‘Invention of Tradition’ model of analysis that lacks explanation of the articulation of local and (inter)national forces. Based on ethnographic and archival research, this article examines stakeholders at the local, national, and international level involved in the current nomination of Tarama Village’s August Dance Festival for ICH. It critiques the theoretical value of analysis that neglects multiplicity of scale and suggests the need for a more global, system-oriented approach to heritage that illuminates the interplay between overlapping fields of heritage, tourism, and politics.

Featured paper: "Facilitating Authenticity: Terms of exchange between host and guest in CouchSurfing"

Couchsurfing logo

The internet and tourism have played integral roles in accelerating physical and informational border crossings in the 21st century. CouchSurfing – a membership-based website dedicated to coordinating free home stays between locals and travelers – marks one potential confluence of these two infrastructures that greatly alters movements through the ethnoscape. This paper examines how CouchSurfing reconfigures the relationship between “host” and “guest” by exploring the terms by which hosts negotiate their encounters with guests in the absence of monetary expectations. Through ethnographic research on Oahu supplemented by five years of personal experience in the CouchSurfing community, including travels in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, I analyze three alternative forms of host-guest exchange – profile building, enablement, and intimacy. It is precisely these forms of non-monetary exchange that allow the quick, structured intimacy necessary to the trope of “authenticity” as invoked by CouchSurfing members.  This paper further illustrates the enduring importance of “authenticity” as a discursive device, and suggests that in the case of CouchSurfing “intimacy” and “authenticity” may be re-conceptualized as two related tropes negotiated vis-à-vis the common analog of “alienation.”