Accepted Paper:

Stranger in Paradise: temporalities of displacement in the Swiss Alps  


Danaé Leitenberg (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany)

Paper short abstract:

This paper addresses the temporalities associated with the mountain in a Swiss touristic village. By looking at the villagers', the tourism actors' and the immigrant workers' experiences, I identify clashing temporal imaginaries provoking feelings of displacement.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores how competing "representations of time" (Bear 2014) shape people's understanding of the mountain and its value in a touristic village in the German-speaking Swiss Alps by following the experiences of locals, tourism promoters and immigrant hospitality workers.

In a resort often marketed as a piece of paradise, competing visions of what makes it exceptional collide around two mountains. Around the famous mountain peaks - the "hotspots"- the tourism actors promote a vision of the future where nature stands as capital that needs to be exploited rapidly for the sake of tourism. Against this commodification of the mountain, villagers evoke "their" beloved mountain to be nostalgically reminded of an idealised time before mass tourism, when things were slower and when they felt home in their village. The tourism promoters' hotspots justify future-making practices aiming at accelerating the pace tourist flows while the villagers' evocations of the mountain call for slowing things down. At the intersection of these time representations, the immigrant hospitality workers' role is overlooked despite essential. Displaced from their homes, they work relentlessly to make the village a hospitable place for tourists.

By looking at the tourism promoters', villagers' and immigrant workers' perspectives, I examine what allows for such different representations of time and the mountain to emerge. I focus on how time is "tricked" in such representations, how they clash, how they are mediated and how they provoke a sense of displacement in the present.

Panel Rur02
Tracking changes in the mountains: imaginaries, mobilities, narratives