Behind the Smile

Behind the Smile

The Working Lives of Caribbean Tourism
George Gmelch
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/2/2009
ISBN: 978-0-253-11064-0
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Behind the Smile is an inside look at the world of Caribbean tourism as seen through the lives of the men and women in the tourist industry in Barbados. The workers represent every level of tourism, from maid to hotel manager, beach gigolo to taxi driver, red cap to diving instructor. These highly personal accounts offer insight into complex questions about tourism: how race shapes interactions between tourists and workers, how tourists may become agents of cultural change, the meaning of sexual encounters between locals and tourists, and the real economic and ecological costs of development through tourism. This updated edition includes several new narratives and a new chapter about American students' experiences during summer school and home stays in Barbados.

Author Bio

George Gmelch is Professor of Anthropology at the University of San Francisco and Union College. He has studied Irish Travellers, return migrants, commercial fishermen, Alaska natives, Caribbean villagers, tourism workers, and American professional baseball players. He is the author of eleven books, including (with Sharon Bohn Gmelch) Tasting the Good Life: Wine Tourism in the Napa Valley (IUP, 2011). He has written two other books on Barbados: Double Passage, which is about return migration, and The Parish behind God's Back: The Changing Culture of Rural Barbados (with Sharon Bohn Gmelch). He has also written widely for general audiences, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Psychology Today, and Natural History.


"The narratives are thought-provoking and Gmelch's comments are insightful. Everyone in the tourist industry should have this book on their shelves." —Anthropological Quarterly

". . . highly readable, conversational prose. . . . [Gmelch] is deserving of the most positive comparisons with Studs Terkel." —Americas

". . . provides extraordinary insight into the personal views of tourism workers in Barbados. . . [T]he answers of the tourism workers make interesting and sometimes surprising reading." —The Nation (Barbardos)

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Table of Contents

Preliminary :


1. Island Tourism
2. Work and Encounters in Tourism
3. The Airport
Red Cap
Teller and Money Exchange
4. The Hotel
Taxi Driver
Room Attendant
Guest Services
Head Housekeeper
Head of Security
5. The Beach
Beach Vendor
Jet Ski Operator
Hotel Water Sports
Dive Shop Owner and Instructor
6. The Attractions
Island Bus Tours
Atlantis Submarine
Harrison's Cave
Jolly Roger Cruises
Cycling Tours
7. Government and Tourism
Chief Research Officer, Ministry of Tourism
8. Conclusion