Accepted paper:

Don't Lefebvre and Harvey ever space out? On Majorcan Oeuvres and Production-as-a-Totality in the Global Tourism Industry


Marc Morell (University of Bergen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at the appropriation and transformation by the global tourism industry of collectively laboured social spaces. Such labour contributes to the surplus extraction in tourism as the capitalist subsumption of its oeuvres leads to the conversion of social space into land-as-a-commodity.

Paper long abstract:

This paper calls for attention to a process of accumulation in tourism that takes place outside the arenas of service-related labour and building activities. Instead I show how the global tourism industry also depends on the rather invisible appropriation of the localised, unwaged, yet highly productive labour stored in collectively produced social spaces. In order to unveil this appropriation, I bring together the work on urban space of Henri Lefebvre and David Harvey. In applying their analysis to accumulation processes in the tourism industry of Majorca, I introduce a concrete example of how this industry incorporates the reproduction of social relations into the very process of production, thus, production-as-a-totality. I illustrate this with two ethnographic sketches: First, how collective labour intended to rescue the built heritage and to liven up a gentrifying neighbourhood on the margins of the centre of the capital city is appropriated as the area becomes part of the existing tourism circuit. Second, how the conservation efforts towards the Northern Majorcan mountain range serve the same pattern of accumulation as it becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Such collectively laboured oeuvres, are thus converted into capitalist exchange value, land-as-a-commodity, which ultimately turns collective labour into unwaged labour for capitalism. What is happening is a quasi-perennial "original accumulation of capital". By emphasising that theoretical and methodological insights need to be combined in order to understand the capitalist subsumption of collective labour, I stress ethnography is an essential project for social anthropology rather than a self-explanatory program per se.

panel PE39
Capitalism and global anthropology: Marxism resurgent