Slumming It

The Tourist Valorization of Urban Poverty

Fabian Frenzel


Looks at the growing phenomenon of 'slum tourism' and considers its limitations and potential in tackling inequality.

Have slums become 'cool'? More and more tourists from across the globe seem to think so as they discover favelas, ghettos, townships and barrios on leisurely visits. But while slum tourism often evokes moral outrage, critics rarely ask about what motivates this tourism, or what wider consequences and effects it initiates. In this provocative book, Fabian Frenzel investigates the lure that slums exert on their better-off visitors, looking at the many ways in which this curious form of attraction ignites changes both in the slums themselves and on the world stage.

Covering slums in Rio de Janeiro, Bangkok and multiple cities in South Africa, Kenya and India, Slumming It examines the roots and consequences of a growing phenomenon whose effects have ranged from gentrification and urban policy reform to the organization of international development and poverty alleviation. Controversially, Frenzel argues that the rise of slum tourism has drawn attention to important global justice issues, and is far more complex than we initially acknowledged.

Author Bio

Fabian Frenzel is lecturer in organization studies at the University of Leicester and senior research fellow with the University of Johannesburg. From 2012 to 2014 he was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the University of Potsdam, Germany. His research interests concern the intersections of mobility, politics and organization studies. His previous books include Protest Camps (co-authored with Anna Feigenbaum and Patrick McCurdy, Zed Books, 2013).

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Tourism and the Social Question
  • 3. The Slum and the City
  • 4. Value Practices and Tourist Falorization
  • 5. Slums in Local Value Regimes
  • 6. Disruptive Valorization: Putting Slums on the Map
  • 7. Co-opting and Engineering Tourist Valorization: Policy and Real Estate Responses
  • 8. Tourist Valorization in the Post-Fordist Care Regime
  • 9. Slum Tourism and Political Activism
  • 10. Conclusion


'The definitive book on the topic.'

'A provoking read, exceptional in its efforts to understand slum tourism as a global industry and a symbolic practice of valorisation.'
Africa at LSE

'A well-argued case for building political projects out of what we have in common, rather than being immobilised by cultural difference.'

'Highly recommended. A stirring text on an emerging yet controversial niche form of tourism.'

'Successfully weaves together economics, human geography and cultural studies in order to create a well-balanced analysis.'

‘Based on years of embedded fieldwork, Frenzel's book cuts through the powerful mythology surrounding the so-called slums, townships, and favelas as tourist attractions.’
Bianca Freire-Medeiros, author of Touring Poverty

‘With examples ranging across India, Brazil, Europe and South Africa, Frenzel offers an analysis, both comparative and detailed, that is a theoretically-informed advance on current scholarship.’
John Hutnyk, author of The Rumour of Calcutta

‘This provocative and beautifully written study of slum tourism will transform your assumptions about the politics of slumming it.’
Imogen Tyler, author of Revolting Subjects

‘A bold and carefully crafted analysis of slums and slum tourism. Theoretically grounded in the concepts of tourist valorization and local value regimes, it offers a nuanced and state of the art understanding of the nexus of tourism, slums and poverty.’
Christian M. Rogerson, University of Johannesburg

'One of the most interesting books on the "new tourisms" … It deserves to be widely read and discussed and is worthy of a place on the shelves of anyone interested in the slum, in tourism and society, or in "the social question".'
Anthropological Forum


Publication Date: 15 June 2016
232 pages

Not available in: South Africa

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783604432
Hardback: 9781783604449
eBook ePub: 9781783604463
eBook PDF: 9781783604456
eBook Kindle: 9781783604470

Why is peer review so important?

Learn more about the various types of peer review, why it’s so important, what the social and political considerations of peer review are and how we use it at Zed Books.