Volume 7, Issue 2, Fall 2010
Ecotourism and Environmental Justice
Evan Selinger, Kevin Outterson
The Ethics of Poverty Tourism
Poverty tours—actual visits as well as literary and cinematic versions—are characterized as morally controversial trips and condemned in the press as voyeuristic endeavors. In this collaborative essay, we draw from personal experience, legal expertise, and phenomenological philosophy and introduce a conceptual taxonomy that clarifies the circumstances in which observing others has been construed as an immoral use of the gaze. We appeal to this taxonomy to determine which observational circumstances are ethically relevant to the poverty tourism debate. While we do not defend all or even most poverty tourism practices, we do conclude that categorical condemnation of poverty tourism is unjustified.