Accepted Paper:

Spain's residential tourists and the half life of European cosmopolitanism  


Max Holleran (University of Melbourne)

Paper short abstract:

This project analyzes the fading sense of European cosmopolitanism amongst residential tourists in two Spanish provinces as well as the ways in which the Spanish real estate crisis is often discussed by UK homeowners as a pathology of the 'Mediterranean mentality.'

Paper long abstract:

This project uses participant observation and interviews with 'residential tourists' living in two Spanish provinces to determine how the economic crisis of 2008 forced a revaluation of European cosmopolitanism. The crisis disproportionately affected Spanish tourism centers and the second home market because of years of over-development. The appropriation of blame became an important issue amongst semi-permanent residents who took a keen interest in the politics of real estate development, governmental corruption, and the underlying causes of the Spanish financial crisis. Many found themselves reclassifying Europeans as members of the 'center' or the 'periphery' and assigning negative cultural attributes, such as venality and laziness, to the Mediterranean periphery. Subjects, who were predominantly retirees, had varying degrees of success navigating the troubled real estate market and asserting their collective interests in local disputes involving the Spanish legal system. Generally, they used the failure of cosmopolitan Europe as a strong rebuke to the idea that cohesion policies produced fair and uniform legal systems. Cosmopolitanism was often spurred at the level of changed identity and many affirmed their renewed appreciation for their home country which, in most cases, was the UK. However, cosmopolitan practices were often subtly affirmed to delineate between those who had agency and were successfully dealing with the crisis and those who seemed to be floundering. In this sense, cosmopolitanism was a class-specific attribute that was uniquely available to residents with better education, financial resources, and linguistic skills who took active roles in defending their property rights.

Panel P021
Crisis, intimacy, and the European subject