International solidarity, volunteer tourism and travel writing

Mexico and Central America in Spanish and English

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article discusses the intersection of ethnographic, reflexive and anecdotal styles in travel writing produced out of contemporary international volunteer tourism, and analyses the impact of volunteer tourism on the production of a narrating subject and on the representation of host communities. The comparison of a primary work in Spanish (Herminia Esteban's 2004 Un viaje solidario) with one in English (Cate Kennedy's 2005 Sing, and Don't Cry) allows us to better understand the specific historical, cultural and linguistic dimensions of different routes and encounters, as well as travel writing's potential – and its limitations – in expressing a broader critique of global inequality. The texts are analysed to foreground the quotidian aspects of mobility and degree of authorial transparency regarding the terms under which volunteer activities take place. Extending from this analysis of the authors’ reflexivity, awareness and expression of critical engagement, the article explores the nature of representation in the narration of encounters between privilege and poverty, and frames these in relation to the ethical dimensions of contemporary practices of solidarity-based volunteer travel.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

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