Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Latin American Studies Program


Ben Fallaw

Second Advisor

Winifred Tate


Within the massive tourism and travel industry, the niche market of volunteer tourism has risen recently in both notoriety and popularity with its promises of a more conscious form of experiencing the world and its people. I explore in this thesis project the encounter between volunteer tourist and host community by examining the motivations, expectations, and imagined roles and identities of each side of the voluntourism encounter. The volunteer tourism industry frames voluntourism as a path towards a more personal, ethical and responsible tourism, but has created experiences filled with discomfort for tourists in their encounter with the communities in which they volunteer. I explore this discomfort by examining how the Yucatn voluntourism industry sells altruism, experience, Maya culture, transformation, affect, and making a difference as the primary forms of encounter, and how these expectations and motivations often fall short in the lived experience of voluntourism as told by voluntourists.


Mexico, Voluntourism, Yucatán Peninsula, Tourism, Affect, Discomfort