G4


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Tourism and landscapes of identity and selfhood 
Convenor:
Hazel Andrews (LJMU)
Stream:
Series G: Landscapes
Location:
Henry Thomas Room
Start time:
11 April, 2007 at 11:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
1

Short Abstract:

This panel considers tourists as both holiday makers and as a metasociological category. The panel seeks to address issues of constructions and expressions of identity and selfhood through touristic practices and discourse within a broader framework of mobilities and ideas pertaining to home.

Long Abstract

The category of 'the tourist' is understood in terms of both the holidaymaker and sightseer and as a metasociological conceptualisation of 'modern-man-in-general' (MacCannell 1976: 1): a trope for the existential condition of the human subject of late modernity and postmodernity.

The central structuring and motivating feature of tourism has often been posed in terms of a search for difference or as a form of pilgrimage. Although elements of this exist in the tourism endeavour there have been few attempts to situate this construction of otherness in an understanding of projects of the self or as an outward expression of identity (nation, gender, and class) as they relate to the tourists. Viewed thus, the intersection between tourism and social life more generally can be seen to illuminate the habitus and to situate the tourist within a broader framework of mobile identities, subjectivities and questions of home. Understandings of the relationship between tourism and expressions, constructions and understandings of the self are discussed through terms that include, for example, embodiment, performance and experience. The latter provides an opportunity for explorations within an existential anthropological framework in which questions of social being and selfhood are foregrounded (Jackson, 2005).

Papers are welcome that explore both the concept of the tourist as a mobile entity, as well as those that critically address the issue of 'the tourist', the constructedness of the tourist experience, and of understandings and expressions of selfhood and identity as linked to forms of tourist practice and discourse.

Accepted papers:

E

Author:

Hazel Andrews (LJMU)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is a discussion of the concept of experience (as Erlebnis) in tourism. Central to the debate is how far tourism can be seen as a disruption of habitus that constitutes Erlebnise and thus a 'Moment of Being' leading to a heightened sense of selfhood and identity.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I shall examine the nature of tourists' experiences in the Mallorcan charter tourism resorts of Magaluf and Palmanova. Drawing on the existential anthropology of Michael Jackson (2005) I shall critically examine the notion of the tourist experience as something that happens to someone and argue that the touristic event provides 'a moment of being' (that is a discreet instance) which allows elucidation on the various elements that give rise to a particular sense of self hood and (especially national) identity.

To achieve this I shall utilise Bourdieu's concepts of field and habitus and argue that the tourists enter a particular field of action which appeals to, and thus feeds off and into, their habitus. At the same time the touristic event is presented as different enough by the mediators of the event to occasion a disruption to the habitus and give rise to moments of being. As such I shall illuminate the social structures underpinning the tourists' experience developed by the tourism industry as well as the actions and dispositions of the tourists principally embodied and symbolised by their bodies which serve to both confirm and resist hegemonic market forces.

I shall demonstrate that contrary to established understandings of tourism as a search for difference (MacCannell, 1976; Urry, 1990) this form of tourism serves as an expression of self identify, and, that, further, both market forces and the tourism industry rely on the myth of freedom for self perpetuation.

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

E

Author:

Amie Matthews (University of Western Sydney)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the way in which the experience of time and distance can influence understandings of home and away, self and other, ordinary and extraordinary. It aims to reconceptualise notions of liminality, arguing for a more fluid and less linear model.

Paper long abstract:

It is well established that travel operates for many people as a transitional moment or experientially significant life-phase, which allows individuals the opportunity to construct, imagine, maintain and reconstruct their identities with reference to the world around them. Situated within a larger research project, which examines the role of extended international travel in the lives of young Australians, this paper examines the way in which the experience of time and distance (whether configured emotionally, socially or physically) can influence understandings of home and away, self and other, ordinary and extraordinary.

By drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in a variety of international locations and semi-structured in-depth interviews with young Australian backpackers, the paper will discuss concepts of selfhood, national identity, cosmopolitanism and mobility. With a focus on long-term travellers or working-holiday makers (who are 'not quite tourists, not quite locals'), the paper aims to reconceptualise notions of liminality, arguing for a more fluid and less linear model. Ultimately, this would better accommodate subjective and relative notions of strangerhood and belonging and would go some ways to explaining the identity conflicts experienced by those travellers who exist on the margins: travellers who, by virtue of their relationships or careers, are located somewhere between the role of transient backpacker and that of (less-mobile) international expat.

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

E

Author:

Isabelle Lange (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the touristic identities of volunteers who work onboard a hospital ship bringing surgical care and a Christian message to West Africa. Their travels are framed by a sense of heightened accountability as they document their lived experiences during outreach to sponsors back home.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the touristic motivations and identities of volunteers who travel to work onboard a hospital ship that aims to bring surgical medical care and a Christian message to primarily West African nations. Crew members onboard come from over forty nations for as short as two weeks and as long as eighteen years, and inhabit a culture that is carried along on their journey in a more obvious manner than that of other travellers, in the form of a ship that holds not only a ward and three operating rooms to enable the carrying out of its mission, but also a school, church, air conditioning and 350 like-minded individuals.

This paper considers the phenomenon of volunteers who come onboard the ship as a form of pilgrimage and rite of passage in their relationship as a Christian to God. These individuals create a relationship with their host community defined through service to God, and in turn radiate an account of their mission to the home community they have left behind in the form of blogs, newsletters and, upon return, talks and presentations detailing their time on the ship in Africa. This recounting of their travels is important as it provides an arena to garner further sponsorship and relay a picture of, generally, a joyful and suffering Africa. Thus their travels, instead of a time of experimentation and freedom at abandon, are instead framed by heightened accountability as they engage in a continuous recounting of their Christian selves to their hosts in the outreach location, and of their outreach location to their community back home - in addition to their personal accountability to God. This form of tourism is of the type where the goal is not simply one of self-discovery and to "see the world" but also to change it, and I explore how one's faith privileges oneself in terms of the choices one makes as a missionary tourist, straddling two cultures at the same time, between ship and land. This discussion is based on ethnographic fieldwork observing crew members' daily life practices and relationships formed with the host community on land while the ship was docked in Sierra Leone, Benin and Ghana in order explore the identities they recreate in their touristic selves while travelling for God, and how they are perceived by those they intend to serve.

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

E

Author:

Jackie Feldman (Ben Gurion University of the Negev)

Paper short abstract:

In Biblical tours, Jewish-Israeli guides and Protestant pilgrims draw on shared practices of viewing landscape and history to transform a contested Israel/Palestine into Bible Land, while marginalizing Palestinian Arabs. Such performances may also change identities of both pilgrims and guides.

Paper long abstract:

In Biblical tours, Jewish-Israeli guides and Protestant pastors become co-producers in a mutually satisfying performance which transforms often contested terrain of Israel-Palestine into Bible Land. These tours, organized by churches and marketed by Christian tour agents often lend the environmental bubble typical of group tours moral value as microcosms of Christian fellowship. By examining common narratives and practices of Jewish-Israeli tour guides at outlook points, archaeological excavations and nature sites, I will demonstrate how guides' performances of the Bible textualize the landscape, collapse time, sanctify new or marginal sites and grant significance to visitors' movements and actions which constitutes them as pilgrims.

Although guides may choose from a variety of interactive roles within the guided tour frame, they very frequently will adopt, in coordination with the group's pastor, the role of 'spiritual mentor'. This role provides the guide with the greatest social capital and is familiar to Israeli guides from the tour models experienced in the Israeli school system, as well as from guide school training. The professional authority of the guide is increased by his position as 'reluctant witness' to Christian scriptural truth, and facilitated by drawing on historically transmitted practices of viewing, classifying history and orientalizing shared by Protestants and Zionists. Through guiding performances, Zionist and Protestant understandings of the land become naturalized, while Palestinian Arabs and Muslims are marginalized.

While touring performances generally succeed in reaffirming shared, pre-existing meanings assigned to the land, guiding narratives may be contested by pastors, pilgrims and/or Palestinian vendors or spokesmen. Furthermore, although many Jewish guides will go to great lengths to accommodate the desires of the pilgrims they guide, many express ambivalence or resentment towards Christian missionizing, while some draw subtle lines as to what faith language they will avoid (Son of God, our Savior) or which acts of ritual participation they consider out of bounds. Finally, both pilgrims' and guides' identities may undergo change through pilgrimage. While Evangelicals may come to understand their faith in more historicized terms, Jewish guides performing their Judaism for the Protestant gaze may come to reformulate their Judaism in terms borrowed from Christian frameworks of belief.

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

E

Author:

Tom Selwyn (SOAS)

Paper short abstract:

The purpose of this paper is to use a select collection of imagery associated with tourism promotion to argue that tourists are (generically) interested, amongst other things, in the nature of the self and its relation to the social collectivities of which it is a part.

Paper long abstract:

The paper offers a reading of imagery contained in tourist brochures and follows a line of previous work on the subject by several authors (noteably Dann). The aim is to make a contribution to our understanding of how the deepening of the global market economy into the realms of social and cultural relations in the tourism sphere is manifest at the level of the imagination of self. Having discussed the general senses in which the tourist is surrounded by images that have to do with the definition of self, the paper argues that there are three particularly dominant and interweaving sets of images that appear. These combine references to the body, nation, and the market itself.

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

E

Author:

Yuko Shioji (Hannan University)

Paper short abstract:

See Abstract

Paper long abstract:

In Britain, people tend to hand down porcelain as heirloom within their families for generations. Fine porcelain was originally brought from the Far East to Europe, and was treated as precious imported goods for the aristocracy in Britain. It was treated to prove a noble family and handed down from generation to generation to build up the family status. The consuming style of aristocracy had been followed by other social classes from the 18th century and throughout the 19th century. This English custom of "family porcelain" is still found as traditional custom in a Cotswold town where has been historically recognized as "the most English" area and created "Englishness" by preserving heritage and attracting tourists.

This paper aims to show how people treat family porcelain and what the management of family porcelain means in today's Britain. Nowadays, family porcelain handed down among people was originally given as a present in rituals of passage or inheritance. It tends to be inherited from paternal grandmother, mother and maternal side of family. Most of family porcelain is not used, but displayed or kept. In fact, porcelain from mother and grandmother tend to be displayed. By displaying family porcelain, family memories of the past members and rituals are embodied in a space as a living room in people's house. By using family porcelain daily or in special occasion, family memories are reviving more vividly in people's life and are connecting each generation to the lineage. Family porcelain carries symbolic messages about people's identity and belonging.

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