Cultural sustainability and fluidity in Bhutan's traditional festivals

Wantanee Suntikul

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper engages the “culture gap” in the sustainable tourism literature by addressing issues of cultural sustainability through an investigation of traditional festivals in Bhutan. Cultural sightseeing is the major motivation for tourism to Bhutan, and religious festivals are among the primary contexts within which local people and tourists interact. Tourism brings forces of modernization and globalization into contact with traditional practices, with various consequences. Based primarily on on-site observation of religious festivals, and interviews with Bhutanese monks and abbots, this paper explores the incursion of modernization into traditional festivals. Bauman's concept of "liquid modernity" is applied to articulate the intertwining of traditional and modern practices and frames of reference in constantly changing ways. This leads to a critical discussion of how the case of Bhutan’s festivals reveals the necessity of seeing cultural sustainability in fluid and evolutionary terms, especially in our “liquid modern” times. Foreign tourists and local youth are identified as particular agents of liquid modernism in the religious festivals, bringing perspectives and behaviors that diverge from those of the traditional society within which the meaning and practices of these festivals are rooted, which in turn affects the performance and performers of the dances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2102-2116
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2018


  • Bhutan
  • cultural sustainability
  • fluidity
  • liquid modernity
  • religious festivals
  • Tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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