Accepted paper:

E

The embodied experience of scuba diving for Farang expatriates on Koh Tao

Author:

Alexandra Wood (Glasgow University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores embodiment and scuba diving tourism in Thailand.

Paper long abstract:

The island of Koh Tao, in the gulf of Thailand, boasts a rapidly developing tourism industry centralised around the activity of scuba diving. Scuba diving is prominent and was the basis for the formation and continual negotiation of all economic, political and social structures on the island; yet these are all based around the human experiences underwater. In an analysis of the participatory activity of scuba diving underwater, using literature of tourism, embodiment and ritual, I show how purely visual models only are inadequate for explaining this particular tourist activity, and perhaps most others. Not only are 'seeing' and 'participating' in scuba diving complimentary, rather than oppositional, but further I would argue that dividing the experiences of scuba diving into distinct, sensory based, analytical categories can only be made in hindsight when back on land. Whilst underwater, scuba diving as an activity is but one embodied experience, invoking an overlapping and blending of all bodily senses in response to the equally sensate non-human world into which divers submerge.

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

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panel C1
Ways of seeing, ways of being: spectatorship and participation through tourism