Accepted Paper:

Tourism and diaspora as complementary heritage making processes. the case of the Bangladeshi street-vendors in Rome, Italy.  


Maria Francesca Piazzoni (University of Southern California)

Paper short abstract:

Highlighting the nexus of tourism and diaspora helps to unveil the transnational implications of the heritage industry. Discussing data collected in Rome and Dhaka, I look at how the Bangladeshi street-vendors of Rome affect the urban ecologies of tourism through spatial and affective practices.

Paper long abstract:

Tourism and diaspora remain separate fields of inquiry. Yet the two emerge from -and propagate- neo-liberal patterns of production and consumption. What is more, both phenomena emblematize uneven hierarchies of global mobility, highly impacting urban environments worldwide. Thinking of tourism and diaspora as complementary circumstances helps to re-consider the significance of the heritage industry, thinking beyond its national implications.

The nexus of tourism and diaspora becomes apparent in the heritage landscapes of most Western European cities. While tourists visit historical sites consuming a selected pastness, newcomers find provisional employment in the heritage industry. The case of the Bangladeshi street-vendors in Rome, Italy, is exemplar. The abundance of built heritage and the conspicuous presence of visitors make tourism a primary employment sector in Rome. One that informally absorbs many immigrants and refugees who reside in the city, often illegally. Since the 1990s Rome has been a preferred destination for Bangladeshi immigrants, who constitute the third largest immigrants’ group. Approximately 2500 Bangladeshis sell gadgets in the most iconic touristic sites. Presenting data collected with qualitative methods in Dhaka and Rome, I explore the everyday habits of these Bangladeshi street vendors, as well as their continuing social and economic ties with their country of origin.

The Bangladeshis actively construct the landscapes of Roman pastness, through their spatial habits and encounter with visitors. Diaspora dynamics then affect the urban ecologies of tourism. The Heritage industry emerges as a cultural phenomenon of which the political and economic ramifications transcend localities, and affect transnational socio-economic landscapes.

Panel WIM-WHF05
Making and remaking the city / Faire et refaire la ville