E4


has pdf download has 6 downloads 6
The cultural politics of touristic fantasies: addressing the 'behind-the-scene' scene  
Convenors:
Federica Ferraris (Sussex University)
Paolo S. H. Favero (University of Antwerp)
Stream:
Series E: Enchantment
Location:
GCG08
Start time:
11 April, 2007 at 16:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
1

Short Abstract:

Addressing tourism as a key research arena for understanding the contemporary world, the panel tackles the cultural politics surrounding the fantasies about the world re-produced by tourism and considers the political and ideological dimensions underlying the spectacularizing practices of tourism.

Long Abstract

This panel addresses tourism as a metaphor and a key research arena for understanding contemporary late-capitalist societies.

Tourists, tourism and 'the touristic', we suggest, playfully produce fantasies about the world and its diversity. Such fantasies, accentuating the particular and the exceptional are tightly connected to wider industries of representation promoted by media, film, NGOs, politics, etc. Playing with the notion of bringing cultures and people into dialogue, tourism simultaneously also draws borders across the world (an issue whose centrality is evident in the post 9\11 world-order). Hence, reading it as a particular way of seeing the world may constitute an opportunity to understand the dynamics though which knowledge about the world is contemporarily produced.

We aim at discussing how the relentless touristic spectacularizations of everyday life, cultural diversity and natural beauty build upon a strategic play of hide and reveal. Post-colonial, racial, gender and class gaps are 'spectacularly' hidden behind the beautifying touristic enterprise. Playfully (and seemingly innocently), tourism re-produces notions loaded with strong political and ideological undertones.

The panel does not focus on particular geographical areas. Rather it invites contributions addressing the connections between tourism and cultural politics, and between tourism and wider industries of representation. What view of the world does tourism tend to reproduce? What is the impact of tourist marketing modalities and touristic practices in such reproduction? To what extent can we approach tourism as a political and ideological field? What knowledge about the contemporary world do we gain by conducting research on tourism?

Accepted papers:

E

Author:

Victor Alneng (Stockholm University)

Paper short abstract:

The fact that, unlike commodities in general, the souvenir does not appear at first as a trivial thing but as immediately extraordinary and exclusive, needs to be unpacked.

Paper long abstract:

The fact that, unlike commodities in general, the souvenir does not appear at first as a trivial thing but as immediately extraordinary and exclusive, needs to be unpacked. A souvenir is a souvenir only to the degree it can be made to stand in for the successful establishment of real social relations in a world where commercialism otherwise prevails. Hereof consists the Gordian Knot of the souvenir - as a symbol of a successful going-beyond what Marx famously dubbed commodity fetishism, that is, the de-humanizing displacement of relations between people onto relations between things, the souvenir is a reified social relation existing in order to efface the causes of its existence.

Taking as its starting point the above mentioned structural-dialectical paradox of the souvenir, the proposed paper examines bargaining as the method of choice for many western tourists to elevate a commodity to the level of souvenir status and, in the process, establish memorable authentic social relations with the locals. It is argued that undergirding this symbolic production of the souvenir is the excess production of the touristic Others as simultaneously both authentic over-chargers and intrinsically poor. Accordingly, the intended critique of commercialism of budget travellers is exemplified as reconciling with a global economy where disruptive hierarchies are set flexibly as seemingly opposed fields of interests join forces and, from different flanks, impede and command movements while administer one-way global flows of wealth. The enduring result, however accidental from the point of view of the souvenir-hunters, is a safeguarding of capital and a division of labour with which the global poor are required to submit themselves as local - exotic, authentic, cheap, cost-effective, bankable - in relation to the plutocratic global.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

David Picard (University of Lausanne)

Paper short abstract:

Allegorical Gardens: Tourism Liturgy and the Making of Tropical Insularity

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I will argue that modern mass tourism to tropical shores and islands has long developed its own liturgies playfully recreating the philosophical principals and institutions organising the late modernist being in the world and integrating destinations within a global tourism system. I will stress that on the level of tourism production, tropical destinations have been strategically produced as globally largely interchangeable settings made up of sights and itineraries allegorically embodying the modernist and late modernist ideas, conceptions and institutions of truth, innocence, beauty, diversity, time, and progress. From an ethno-historical perspective, I will suggest that the integration of tropical tourism destinations within global tourism systems re-actualize the classical role of gardens within the widened scales of social life in the contemporary world. From a tourism perspective, tropical tourism destinations can be seen as bounded spaces concentrating, articulating and festively celebrating a set of essential symbolic elements underlying the modernist philosophy. At the same time, as a result of the long established contact, participation and continuing relation between tourism institutions, tourists and tropical destinations, the latter have often adopted the semantics of the gardener role and developed tourism cultures within a globally integrated tourism system. In this sense, tropical destinations have often quite explicitly self-fashioned themselves as the gardens/gardeners of one of the major moral and aesthetic resource bases of late modernity. To approach interrelated issues of cultural production, personal and public liturgy and ritual performance, intersubjective distance, enchantment, and participation underlying this theoretical proposal, I will use data collected through extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the tropical island of La Reunion, Indian Ocean (1995-2001, 2005, 2006) as well as research on international relations within the wider field of tourism policy (2005-2006).

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Authors:

Céline Cravatte (University of Rouen)
Nadège Chabloz (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyse the discourses of a group of associations in France promoting the "tourisme solidaire et equitable" (fair and solidarity tourism) and a local case study. We show how they stage authenticity and solidarity, but although promote a normative solidarity and try to create enchantment.

Paper long abstract:

As other forms of "alternative tourism", they present themselves in contrast to a generic "conventional tourism". One of the critics they address to tourism industry is rather well-know: the "conventional tourism" reduces the other to some simplified traits of the culture, they only show what is beautiful, typical, and do generally not mention the daily life and the real problems the people living in the visited countries are facing, the actions they are taking. They although critic the presentation of some countries of the south only like miserable and poor countries, begging for money, as they can be sometimes marketed in the campaign of donation of riche people.They are then both criticizing and using a touristic and militant view of the world. They lean then on authenticity and needs of development, and the people met are presented on the market as dominated people who gain through tourism a chance to consideration and economic enhancement. They take then actively part to a specific industry of representation.

This generic discourse about the "local people" is not explicitly repeated for each concrete encounter, but it influences the symbolic construction of the other and may contribute to propose a sense of the encounter with the locals to the tourists, and predetermine different roles; We argue then that the reproduction of this ideology is not mechanical.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

Sarah Sonner (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

Contemporary air travel is a means of transformation. In passing through the spaces of air travel, humans transform into tourists, a process that I will argue relies upon an airport's use of space. Airports produce and perpetuate fantasies about air travel, while making use of the same tools to exert control over the citizens of airport space. This paper will explore the intersection of tourism and airport space by examining airports as tourist destinations in themselves, through the uneasy relationship of the contemporary tourist with the liminal space of the airport. I am interested in questioning how airports both exploit and mask their airportness for the transient tourist (governed by the idea of a destination at the end of the flight) and the tourist of airport space (wherein the airport itself becomes the tourist objective).

This paper will describe how airports make use of the "strategic play of hide and reveal" proposed by the originators of the panel. How does airport space mediate our experience of tourism? To what extent can we approach an understanding of airports through airport tourism? What knowledge about the contemporary world might be gained by conducting research on the spaces of airport tourism? In addressing these questions, this paper will draw upon sources such as: Marc Auge's writing on airports as "non-places," sleepinginairports.net and other websites that allow travellers to exchange anecdotal guides to airport space, and Bruno Latour's work on the interaction of human and nonhuman—particularly the adoption of the term "black box" from the world of aviation accident investigation.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

Ivo Giuseppe Pazzagli (University of Bologna)

Paper short abstract:

Moving from the analysis of the changes occurred in the last quarter of XX century in Rimini, the proposal discuss the productivity of an approach which focuses on the relationships between "images", worked out for positioning the resort town in the global market, and the production of locality.

Paper long abstract:

Many studies in the last years have underlined the role of the representational theme, thus the role of analysing the complex network of mutual viewpoints and representations between hosts and guests which constitutes the communicational space where the identities of place and of involved actors are performed.

Moving from the analysis of the changes occurred in the last quarter of XX century in Rimini, a seaside resort town in central Italy, the proposal aims at discussing the productivity of an approach which focuses on the relationships between "images", worked out for positioning the resort town in the global market, and the production of locality.

A special focus will be posed on how and why those images do play a role of signifiers, capable of being used within the discoursive strategies devised by each group, according to its own interests, in the local public arena.

In the field of tourism, due to its fragmentary productive structure, the local authorities have a peculiar role, since they are in charge of irreplaceable tasks such as the pinpointing and implementation of active measures aimed at local development. This role is performed partly throught urban politics and the creation of infrastructures, partly throught the assumption of a proper business function , as far as they intervene whereas the private capital is not able to develop autonomously effective interventions.

This fact has significant consequences, since it implies the publication of the debate which inevitably characterizes the "decision-making process". What in a company is prerogative of restricted circle of managers here takes place in the public sphere, where, in a framework ruled by "image" issues, identity strategies, shared fantasies and power conflicts are continuously performed.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

E

Author:

Sandra Finger (Sabanci University)

Paper short abstract:

Authenticity and Romanticism in Turkish tourist commercials reflect not only commodity imperialism and commercial colonization, but convey messages of cultural politics in present day Turkey. Tourist marketing has to be considered therefore as an efficient tool in national identity politics.

Paper long abstract:

On the homepage of the government of national tourism in Turkey, internet and television, dancing dervishes, unspoiled mythic landscapes and 'authentically' dressed people promise the original experience to Turkish people in the Turkey, a region that has been subject to a number of disparities, among others the bleeding due to permanent clashes between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish Military. The commercialization of the authentic and romantic in the commercial as motivating narrative to explore the 'lands of Turkey' does not only intend to bridge the regional economic disparities, but suggests also a specific conception of the country to be conveyed to the Turkish citizen. It is therefore not adequate to scrutinize and understand the commercialization of the 'romantic and authentic landscape' as a phenomenon of commodity imperialism and commercial colonization. This domestication of the 'wild and back warded' and at the same time silencing of the blood shed and the deaths mourned in the last decades has to be undermined by a deconstruction of the narrative produced by the ongoing nationalist and political discourse of Turkish identity.

For this I will look at the way the Turkish ministry for culture and tourism represents Turkey particularly in image. I will crystallize what image is given about Turkey, and how the harmonization of the rural countryside and the 'politically menacing' and 'dangerous' East of Turkey with the technologically advanced West of Turkey that is thought of as 'modern' and 'civilized', can be understood in the socio-political context of present day Turkey. I argue that domestic tourism in Turkey presents a key element in understanding the debate about cultural identity in Turkey and that tourism and tourist marketing has to be considered as an efficient tool in cultural and identity politics.

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed