Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Urban Studies

First Advisor

William Velez

Committee Members

Kristin Sziarto, Douglas Ihrke


Ethnic Tourism, Festivals, Urban Ethnic Tourism, Urban Studies, Urban Tourism


Ethnic identity is dynamic social construction. Ethnic groups define and display their heritage to meet the social, economic, and political interests of the group. Tourism is one outlet for ethnic groups to express their identity while stimulating local economies. Ethnic tourism is becoming more popular in urban settings, as municipal governments attempt to compete for tourism income and establish a unique brand. Placing ethnic tourism within an urban setting creates additional layers of complexity that have the potential to alter the way ethnic groups interact and are perceived by locals and visitors. Tourism involves the construction of expectations through deliberate representation. When the object of expectation is an ethnic or minority group, the creation of symbols to enhance the exotic appeal can have unintended consequences for the performance of ethnicity within urban structures. This paper attempts to document the effects of urban ethnic tourism on the ethnic group that is the subject of tourism by applying a new framework for urban ethnic tourism to the ethnic festivals of Milwaukee, WI.