Swimming with Monsters: Scuba Diving Tourism in Micronesia
Hans Tunestad (Stockholm University)
Paper short abstract:
The study investigates scuba diving tourism, here seen as a form of so called serious leisure. The focus is not on the occasional diver, but on those that pursue this interest on a long term basis, and also on the frameworks that enable, encourage or restrict these involvements.
Paper long abstract:
This presentation describes a project starting in the autumn of 2018 that will investigate scuba diving tourism through ethnographic methods - including the still experimental method of underwater ethnography. Millions of people around the world today are certified divers, and the numbers increase with hundreds of thousands every year. Yet scuba diving is not only a potentially dangerous, even lethal, activity, but also something rather expensive, transcendent, and technically advanced: with the diving equipment, making it possible to breath underwater, a diver is temporarily transformed into a cyborg, or a 'monster', stretching the limits of what it means to be human. What makes people engage in this kind of activity? As a form of so called serious leisure sport diving today constitutes an activity that on a structural level share certain traits with work - with 'careers', and the same ideals as contemporary organizational management (self-regulation, flexible adaption to the environment, self-realization, mobility). Following the idea of Boltanski and Chiapello (2007) that contemporary flexible capitalism tends to give life a 'projective' character, for the contemporary 'leisure classes' both work and leisure here arguably appear as two similar and equally important parts of the overarching individual life project. The investigation is strategically located to Palau, a place where dive tourism makes up a substantial part of the national economy, and where divers from (at least) four continents meet.
Into the blue - cultures of the sea