Cultural Studies of Uluru
An understanding how culture affects people’ life is crucial to assist human kinds to develop a sociological imagination. As the society become more diverse, and the communication among members of international are more frequent, the need to appreciate diversity and to understand how other people view their world has also increased (Samovar ;amp; Porter as cited in Lamont, 2000, p.
603). This indicates that culture is essential for individual survivals and their communication with other people.This essay will investigate the expected behaviour of visitors to Uluru from the local Aboriginal perspectives by using the discipline of cultural studies. An attempt is also made to determine how the behaviour has been changed from the attitude before 2005 as well as to explore the importance for tourism suppliers to understand the difference. Cultural studies are closely related to sociology.
Sociology is one of the most contributions to leisure studies in the context of multidisciplinary environment including sociology, psychology, economics, politics and geography (Lynch ;amp; Jonson as cited in Kelly, 2001, p. 59). Sociology plays a significant role in assisting people to understand structure of the society and its impacts to human behaviours and life changes of individuals. Lynch and Veal (2012) defined sociology as the study of society, of organised groups of human beings in various size and structures between the family and the neighbourhood, and from urban and rural societies to the state of nationality and beyond (p. 116).Gillespie (1999) also claimed that sociology inspected the ways of organising the society into groups, communities, social categories such as class, race, age and gender and several organised establishment such as religious, economic and political institutions, which influence individual motivations, attitudes, behaviours and opportunities (p.
293). This means sociology refers to the study of organisation, institutions and society development which affect the functioning of the society and human social behaviours. One of the most important areas studied in examining social dynamics is culture.Culture means different things to different individuals in different places as it is a broad concept including traditions and beliefs that connect people together. Middleton (2002) clarified that culture combined a complex set of traditions, customs, values, beliefs, knowledge and skills shared by individuals as the members within the society (p.
4). It determines the sum of learned behaviours that are considered to be the tradition of organised group of individuals and transmitted from generation to generation (Smith, Rodriguez, ;amp; Bernal, 2011, p. 68). This indicates that culture identifies the characteristics of the particular groups of people which are based on language, social habits, religion, cuisine, values, learned behaviours, knowledge and skills. Therefore, it can be said that culture is concerned with the science of anthropology as sense of ‘way of life’ and life style so the relationship to leisure is increasingly significant due to leisure circumstances becoming culturally important in societies as well as economies (Lynch & Veal, 2012, p.
119).Way of life refers to cultural norms and traditions, while lifestyle refers to the range different leisure choices, styles, tastes that are connected to the sense of individual, group or national identity (Flynn as cited in Dewar, 2011, p. 191). This signifies that leisure is the key aspect of culture as it is central in everyday ‘way of life’ by means of traditions and the creation of different life styles as new practices. In short, cultural studies are closely relevant to sociology but it is also related to humanities as ‘way of life’ and the relationship with leisure therefore increasingly important.
Cultural study discipline is crucial to investigate the perspectives of Anangu who are Traditional Aboriginal Owners in relation to the expected behaviours of visitors to Uluru. Uluru symbolises the heart of Australian nation and has been opened to tourism since 1950, which then indicated the beginning of controversy over control and access to the site visitors who wished to photograph and climb it and Anangu, to whom it is sacred (James, 2007, p. 399). This means from the Anangu perspectives, climbing is the act of lack of knowledge and respect for their culture and claim over Uluru.Uluru represents the cultural landscape including both tangible sites such as archaeological remains of the rock and intangible beliefs connected to natural places such as the sacred of the rock.
Intangible values assist in improving “the intellectual, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural and/or creative aspects of human existence and well-being” (World Commission on Protected Areas as cited in Zeppel, 2009, p. 96). This indicates that intangible values of sacred rock in Uluru are significantly important to the Anangu as they focus on identity, spiritual and cultural values of the Anagu society.Harmon (2003) claimed that culture, nature, spirituality and personal identity were connected within native societies who transcribe cultural-identity value into the landscape of ancestors (p. 59).
That is, Uluru which is the tangible cultural heritage site is inspires the spiritual beliefs about creator beings of indigenous cultural landscapes with cultural-identity and meaning. Therefore, the Anangu request the visitors not to climb to protect their sacred landscape with cultural-identity meaning but rather to learn about Uluru’s culture and home through their eyes.However, climbers particularly felt the individual positive outcomes are more important than the possible negative social and cultural negative impacts (Brown, 1999, p. 679). As a result, there is an increasing conflict between tourists’ inappropriate behaviours and the Aboriginal owners’ cultural values and beliefs among climbing Uluru.
Anangu put a lot of effort into communicating their cognition about culture and penetration to visitors over the past two decades. Their efforts have enabled a number of tourists to travel to and experience Uluru from the perspective of traditional Aboriginal owners (Digance, 2003, p. 51). Researchers have shown that the number of visitors who climb Uluru have declined over the past two decades between before and after 2005. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (as cited in Lennon, 2006) found that the proportion of visitors who climb Uluru among the overall visitors had declined from 70 per cent to 50 percent between 1991 and 2004 (p. 463).
Also, another research showed that the percentage of visitors climbing has fallen from 70 per cent in 1990 to 35-40 per cent in 2008, which equates up to 150,000 climbers annually (McKercher, Weber, ;amp; Du Cros, 2008, p. 370).This result indicates that the number of visitors climbing Uluru fell dramatically between the period of time before and after 2005 due to the traditional Aboriginal efforts in communicating their cultural values, knowledge and insights to the visitors. James (2007) also claimed that changes are occurring due to not only demands for more tourists with cultural awareness of sustainable tourism but also the increase in Aboriginal power and agency in dealing with tourism industry (p. 405). This means tourists are looking more cultural experience along with in-depth knowledge than traditional tours.
However, it also appears that more than a third of overall visitors continue to choose to act in a way that contradicts the wishes and request of Anagu. That is, climbing Uluru has still become the focus of debate between antecedently commanding tourism industry and the appearing sceptred traditional possessors. As a result, there is a need for tourism operators to understand the cultural conflicts between cultural values of the sacred natural areas such as mountain from the traditional Aboriginal perspectives and visitors’ diverse physical activities such as climbing.Hockings, Stolton, Leverington, Dudley, and Courrau (2006) cited that it is the responses from tourism suppliers that signified the predominant ability for alteration in the way cultural conflicts in sustainable tourism is represented (p. 9).
Tourism providers can dissuade people from climbing through their advertising in different social media tools. It is argued that the way the landscape is promoted to visitors before they arrive is only one affects their expectations and behaviours (Eagles, McCool, & Haynes, 2002, p. 56).Tremblay (2008) also cited that tourism suppliers can provide knowledge and interpretation about indigenous values of natural site on their brochures to assist in managing cultural conflicts between cultural beliefs and recreational activities (p. 71).
This means promotional materials such as brochures, images and social media tools of tourism providers play a significant role in shaping visitors’ decisions about the Climb. In addition, tourism suppliers need to work with Aboriginal owners for the sake of their work performance.Hockings et al (2007) claimed that tourism operators need to recognise the importance of establishing viable, long term relationships with indigenous community with patience, trust and respect to enhance the sustainability of their operations (p. 11). This indicates that there is a need for tourism operators for recognition that they must work with Aboriginal community to greater success in communicating Aangu cultural values to visitors as well as to establish their long-term operations.
Therefore, it is significantly important for tourism suppliers to understand the difference between cultural values from Aboriginal perspectives and their request in visitors’ activities about the climb. In conclusion, culture means different things to different individuals in different places as it is a broad concept including traditions and beliefs that connect people together. Uluru which is the tangible cultural heritage site is inspires the spiritual beliefs about creator beings of indigenous cultural landscapes with cultural-identity and meaning.Therefore, the Anangu request the visitors not to climb to protect their sacred landscape with cultural-identity meaning but rather to learn about Uluru’s culture and home through their eyes. Their efforts into communicating their cognition about culture and penetration to visitors over the past two decades lead to a significant decrease in the number of visitors climbing Uluru between before and after 2005.
Also, it is the responses of tourism operators to understand and work with Anagu community to create suitable promotional materials to educate their tourist and to establish their visible and long-term operations.