113 Is Camping Secondary Colonialism?

Toni Gallant

For my blog post I decided to visit the Museum of the White Mountains and see their exhibit on Summer camps. I was excited to visit this exhibit because of our conversations about secondary colonialism. When we talked about it in class, we talked about it in the context of tourism. Seeing this exhibit made me question if there is a difference from camping and tourism. Kincaid describes secondary colonialism as, “when inhabitants of wealthy, highly developed northern or western countries convert poorer, formerly colonial, usually southern and eastern countries into sites or objects of useful pleasure.” (1224).

We use the forest for camping just like tourists go to what they consider foreign places in order to enjoy their culture. Camping might be a bit worse because we end up putting buildings and bathrooms and other things in the forest that do not necessarily go there in order to make our experience better. It makes the camping experience more comfortable for the campers by giving them the comforts of their everyday life where they would not have had them before. Do not get me wrong; I love camping, but considering secondary colonialism almost makes me feel bad for camping. I am also wondering if it is just colonialism and not secondary colonialism because the forest was never really colonized. We did not go in there and change anyone’s way of living as far as I know and we only disturbed a small part of the forest.

However another Kincaid quote seems to counter the idea that camping might be a form of secondary colonialism when she said, “But the banality of your own life is very real to you; it drove you to this extreme, spending your days and your nights in the company of people who despise you, people you do not like really, people you would not want to have as your actual neighbor.” (1229). When you are camping a lot of the time you are not in the company of anyone. You are either by yourself or with friends who hopefully do not despise you. Camping trips are supposed to be fun getaways from life at home which screams secondary colonialism to me but there is no one really there to hate you except for maybe squirrels, but is that really the same thing? In the end, Kincaid says something that makes me think that it does not really matter. She says, “Every native everywhere lives a life of overwhelming and crushing banality and boredom and desperation and depression, and every deed, good and bad, is an attempt to forget this.” (1229). There really are no natives in the woods that I have ever seen before. At least I have not seen any human natives. Only squirrels. Honestly I think that as long as you are not damaging the forest in any way, it is not considered secondary colonisation. It is more like colonization because we are bending nature to do what we want it to do in order for us to be more comfortable in it.


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The Student Theorist: An Open Handbook of Collective College Theory Copyright © 2018 by Toni Gallant is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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