American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, November 17-21, 2010

Panel: Gendered Economies of Carework: Global and Local Dimensions of Theory and Practice

Paper: Moral Economies and Gendered Tourists: Intimacy, Care, and Aid in the Volunteer Tourism Industry of Cusco, Peru

In recent years, the volunteer tourism industry in Cusco, Peru has grown to the point where a significant number of NGOs rely heavily on foreigner labor as well as funding. Children’s after-school centers are one of the most desired placement opportunities for short and long term tourist volunteers, the majority of whom are women. Theorizing volunteer tourism as a moral economy of assistance and intimacy, this paper examines the emotional and economic labor of volunteers, aid center staff, Spanish school volunteer coordinators, and children attendees in two such centers. I explore the different motivations and experiences of volunteers, both women and men, using their commentary to reflect on the construction of this global industry in terms of the gendered kinds of carework it enables. In particular, I discuss how work with children prompts both personal and political discourses relating to motherhood and childhood, innocence and vulnerability, as well as responsibility and dependency.

Aviva Sinervo