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Accepted Paper:

Eudaimonic tendencies in contemporary African tourism – Searching for meaningfulness or chasing fantasies?  
Susanne Mohr (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Paper short abstract:

Tourism is central in modern life, where tourism discourse creates imaginaries. While it is a joyful experience for many, there is a dark side to it, captured in the term tourination. The paper discusses the possibility of less ruinous tourism in Africa as implied in eudaimonic tourism discourse.

Paper long abstract:

Tourism is a central aspect of modern life (MacCannell 2013). Tourism discourse, i.e., “language and communication in tourism as global cultural industry” (Thurlow & Jaworski 2011: 222), contributes to the creation of imaginaries around tourism, i.e., “[t]he creative use of and seductive [and] restrictive imaginaries about peoples and places” (Salazar 2012: 863). At the same time as tourism is an important and joyful experience for many, there is a dark side to modern, especially mass, tourism, which has been captured in the term tourination (Storch & Mietzner 2021), emphasizing its ruinous effects. Indeed, we know that much modern tourism is anything but sustainable, neither environmentally nor socially. Yet, tourism is increasing again after the COVID-19 pandemic and it seems inevitable that people will continue to travel.

This paper discusses the possibility of less ruinous tourism types in Africa that are implied in some tourism discourses. The data stem from discourses engaging with eudaimonia, a concept coined by Aristotle and referring to the realization of human potential, meaningful actions, and psychological well-being (Smith 2023). This is exemplified in a community of practice centering around inspirational quotes in the digital tourist space of Zanzibar, a sustainability campaign implemented by an NGO and advertised on social media, and advertisements of yoga retreats online. Ultimately, the paper aims at looking into whether the eudaimonic tendency present in contemporary tourism discourse in parts of Africa is indicative of a changing, more sustainable tourist industry, or remains performative.

Panel Anth23
Tourism and the future - performances, expectations and resistance
  Session 2 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -