The Virtuous Tourist: Consumption, Development, and Nongovernmental Governance in a Mozambican Village


This article is about the role of tourist moral agency in governing. The affiliation between vacationing and governing is illustrated through the examination of a case study: the village of Canhane in Mozambique. The main touristic attribute of the village lies in residents’ performance of a society in need, seeking outside solutions and guidance. Virtuous tourism in Canhane is the effect of a capitalist expansion in which ethics, community development, and governance are conflated with tourists’ consumption. Specifically, the commodifying logic that emerges from the presence of virtuous tourists in the village derives primarily from three subjects: tourists’ self‐aspirations, residents’ ambition to integrate into the broader socioeconomic order, and the politicization of virtue stimulated by the development industry. Ultimately, this article shows how the cultivation of ethics through tourism consumption has become an ally for the exercise of nongovernmental governance over public spheres.