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Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place and Jessa Crispin’s The Unsettled: Comparative Essay

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Although the tourism industry in developing countries seems to be a viable source for economic development, they are adversely affecting the livelihood of the locals residing there by glorifying and worsening their impoverished conditions further which Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘A Small Place’ and Jessa Crispin’s ‘The Unsettled’ emphasize on by introducing other concepts such as gentrification and corruption.

While both passages highlight how complex the tourism industry is, Kincaid describes her distaste specifically towards the tourists. She described how the places and services entertained to the tourists like Mill Reef Club and Barclays Bank originate from the suffering of the natives there yet the tourists disregard the feelings of the locals for their own leisure time. Kincaid gave an example of how the major Barclays Bank which is now an international business benefited highly from tourism as it was actually established by Barclay Brothers who were slave-traders that continued their history of discrimination for years to justify her view. “But people just a little older than I am can recite the name of and the day the first black person was hired as a cashier at this very same Barclays Bank in Antigua”(Kincaid,13). Kincaid endorses and justifies the reasoning for the negative portrayal of the tourists by describing how the tourists are uncompassionate people who lack knowledge and empathy for the natives in Antigua as they are blinded by the beauty of the sights to actually learn where it comes from. Kincaid describes how discriminatory tourism is for locals as the tourists are able to fly out for the sole purpose of vacation or escapism while the local Antiguans cannot afford a plane ticket despite the wealth coming from tourism.

The same idea that tourism in a way gives rise to urbanization and gentrification which facilitates only to a certain group of people mostly those who are responsible for these developments is endorsed in Crispin’s essay. This is justified by a claim that Crispin made regarding the development of new services like Roam which gives tourists a temporary house that has a weekly rent of 500 dollars per week indicates that this luxury is exclusive only to those people who are privileged enough to afford it. In this way, the claims made are truthful due to the evidences given however there are positive aspects to these establishments not mentioned in the essay like the overall increase in international businesses in the place allowing it to have a prominent name in the map. Crispin mentioned in her essay that “Businesses with English-speaking workers that cater to the rich class, like boutiques and coffee shops and juice bars, will flourish while businesses that cater to long-term residents, like hardware stores and shoe repair shops, will be priced out and disappear as property values rise”(Crispin, ”The Unsettled”).Tourism described in Crispin’s essay gives rise to free market economy hence new private businesses being established like co-living space Roam mentioned above are carried out without acknowledging the “economically displaced” people mostly the locals similar to Kincaid’s argument regarding lack of provision of economic development for both the countries.

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Both the passages highlight how degrading the tourism industry has become in both the countries as it describes the repercussions of tourism on the environment and increased threat of loss of inbuilt traditions and culture of the countries. “The effects mass tourism has on a location have long been discussed, from the cruise-ships full of tourists who descend on Venice every day, leading to environmental degradation and a dwindling population of actual Venetians, or the small Mexican coastal villages that have been transformed into bloated resort towns in just a few years”( Crispin, ”The Unsettled”). Crispin depicts the impact urbanization and gentrification made on the infrastructure can lead to huge amount of stress on local land available and lead to unethical tourism as pollution and erosion are end product of development due to tourism like hotels and buildings. Kincaid endorses this view by giving an example of how the tourists are enjoying their stay in complete ignorance of the repercussions caused ”And so you needn’t let that slightly funny feeling you have from time to time about exploitation, oppression, domination develop into full-fledged unease, discomfort; you could ruin your holiday”(Kincaid,10).

Tourism is not limited to rapid development and urbanization of the place for tourist facilities but also extends to the introduction of new culture and trends. By relating tourism to colonialism, Kincaid depicts how British colonization on Antigua influenced the natives to an extent that she had no choice but even express her anger towards British in the language taught by the colonialists themselves. Likewise, Crispin mentioned in her essay that “It’s not just Western money that is part of the colonial gentrification process, then, it is also the Western way of life” ( Crispin, “The Unsettled”). An example of this is described in Crispin’s essay when she mentioned how the original dialect of Bali which is Balinese is vanishing and foreign language like English and Indonesian which is now widely used in the businesses and daily transactions. The loss of traditions and old values that represent the country are now being replaced.

However, when I consider tradition loss as a negative factor of tourism I have mixed feelings. Culture and tradition loss expands to more than just something that can be carried out within a few years by visits of tourists as it takes years to transform the local culture to a new refined one. Considering all this to recent times, I believe tourism in a way promotes local culture as traditional craft items and old traditions are celebrated by tourists and promoted to portray the true essence of the country.

Both passages emphasize on the negative impact of tourism described above but they both converge to a common conclusion that the wealth and profit coming from tourism facilitates the western countries or those responsible for these establishments while the locals suffer. Comparing these issues to the current situation in the world, I believe these issues are still prevalent like the tourism business strongly negates the employers and existing corporate groups. An example of this could be in Pakistan where the rigorous services for tourism or any type of employment is highly underpaid as opposed to the groups who establish these businesses. There is also a downfall for existing traditional businesses when these new ventures are launched leading to these businesses closing down due to the dominance of urbanization. The modifications and rapid urbanization is not just robbing people off their houses and causing environmental degradation but also depriving the place from its true essence hence there is overall loss locally due to economic gain for the already sufficient groups.


  1. Crispin, Jessa. “The Unsettled.” The Outline, The Outline, 13 July 2017,
  2. Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. Daunt Books, 2018.
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Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place and Jessa Crispin’s The Unsettled: Comparative Essay. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 5, 2023, from
“Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place and Jessa Crispin’s The Unsettled: Comparative Essay.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022,
Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place and Jessa Crispin’s The Unsettled: Comparative Essay. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Dec. 2023].
Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place and Jessa Crispin’s The Unsettled: Comparative Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2023 Dec 5]. Available from:
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