“Is it voyeuristic to look at poverty, or worse to ignore its existence? It’s a difficult question,” says Ko Koens, co-organizer of this Bristol, U.K., conference that plumbs the murky ethics of slum tourism. The practice has gained recent popularity, thanks to films such as City of God and Slumdog Millionaire. After studying slums around Cape Town, South Africa, Koens argues that when done correctly, slum tourism can bring a welcome boost to the local economy. “Residents are eager to engage with visitors, and when tours incorporate the local people and businesses, there are undeniable benefits,” he says. “But when big buses drive in, take photos, and drive out, locals despise it. They’re not zoo animals.” — Stephanie Schomer
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