London:  The growing phenomenon of rich tourists visiting slums in Mumbai and elsewhere for entertainment – mainly sparked off by movie 'Slumdog Millionaire' – is the subject of a new study at the University of Leicester.

The study is also examining whether slum tourism can help to tackle global inequalities and injustices, by analyzing the growth in tours of areas of urban poverty, often called slums, favelas or townships.

The project, funded by the European Union, is being conducted by Dr Fabian Frenzel, a lecturer at the University of Leicester.

"This form of tourism might seem unusual but in recent years more and more visitors have taken tours in slums, predominantly in South Africa, Brazil and India, but increasingly also in other cities across the world", he said.

Frenzel added that curiosity to visit slums is often considered morally problematic, particularly as tourism is associated with fun and entertainment.

"Many people would argue that it is voyeuristic to watch people in their poor living conditions. The study will examine several case studies, interview participating tourists, locals and tour operators.

"The big question is whether slum tourism is merely some cynical form of entertainment for the rich or a practice that can help tackle the global inequalities and injustices we live with," Frenzel said.

According to him, slum tourism is not a new phenomenon, "What takes place on Tuesday on a global scale was a fairly common leisure practice for Victorians, known as 'slumming'.

"Slummers' visited the slums of east London, already in organised tours, often guided by police or professionals in the developing charity sector".

He added, "These sites of squalor have long enticed popular imagination. Many people experienced poverty not in literal tours, but in literary ways, for example in the writing of Charles Dickens.

Today this convergence of literal and literary slumming continues. The recent fascination with films like District 9, City of God and Slumdog Millionaire shows that these desires are still with us", he said.


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