Undertaking research among marginalised tourism communities in Kenya: an important methodological lesson

Pratima Sambajee, Ann Ndiuini, Peter Mutinda Masila, Damiannah Kieti, Tom Baum, Rita Nthiga, Jonathan Plimo Ng’oriarita, Ezekiel Ondabu Kiage

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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The representation of tourism communities in discourses of sustainable tourism development is central. Existing research indicates a proclivity for top-down approaches to engaging with these communities particularly in policy-driven data collection. The increasing value attributed to statistical evidence by national and international bodies has left many tourism communities out of the frame. In particular those who are coined as 'marginalised tourism communities', who for many reasons are unable to participate in surveys and whose realities do not have a measurable value. For them, we undertook a research approach that would give marginalised tourism communities a louder voice in sustainable tourism discourse. This chapter navigates through the fieldwork experiences of two Kenyan researchers during a study on marginalised tourism communities in Kenya. In particular, it illustrates not only the essential dimensions of an ethnographic study but also highlights the fundamental need for proximity and fluidity when researching tourism communities who are at grass-root levels and often the most vulnerable. The journeys of these researchers are captured and narrated through various methods used during a six-weeks fieldwork immersed with the Maasai community in a cultural village and with the fishing community in Wasini island, across the east coast of Kenya. The critical turn is encapsulated by the view and evidence that methodology in such contexts is not stable and neither is there a need for stability. Instead, events and other forces requires researchers to consider fluid and multifaceted methods that can unfold realities of marginalised tourism communities
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Innovation for Sustainable Tourism
EditorsIrma Booyens, Patrick Brouder
Place of PublicationCheltenham, UK
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2022


  • tourism
  • Kenya
  • sustainable tourism development


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