Tourism: Between Place and Performance

Tourism: Between Place and Performance

Tourism: Between Place and Performance

Tourism: Between Place and Performance


Many accounts of tourism have adopted an almost paradigmatic visual model of the gaze. This collection presents an expanded notion of spectatorship with a more dynamic sense of embodied and performed engagement with places. The approach resonates with ideas in anthropology, sociology, and geography on performance, invented traditions, constructed places and traveling cultures. Contributions highlight the often contradictory, contested and paradoxical constructions of landscape and community involved both in tourist attractions and among tourists themselves. The collection examines many different practices, ranging from the energetic pursuit of adventure holidays to the reading of holiday brochures. It illustrates different techniques of seeing the landscape and a variety of ways of creating and performing the local. Chapters thus demonstrate the mutual entanglement of practices, images, conventions, and creativity. They chart these global flows of people, texts, images, and artefacts. Case studies are drawn from diverse types of tourism and destination focused around North America, Europe, and Australasia.

Simon Coleman moved to Sussex University in 2004, having spent 11 years at Durham University as Lecturer and then Reader in Anthropology, and Deputy Dean for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health.

Mike Crang is Lecturer in the Department of Geography, University of Durham.


Jeremy Boissevain

This book is a welcome addition to a rapidly growing field of studies. Strangely, tourism, one of the world's major industries, was, until recently, all but ignored by most social scientists. A few sociologists – notably Eric Cohen (1972, 1979) and Dean MacCannell (1976) – and some anthropologists – many contributors to Valene Smith's Hosts and Guests (1977) – began to examine some of the social and cultural aspects of tourism in the 1970s. During most of the 1970s and 1980s, however, the interest in tourism remained feeble, until, suddenly, a decade ago, a spate of publications signalled its coming of age as a field of study. New editions of MacCannell's and Smith's seminal books appeared in 1989, as well as a review article on the study of tourism in the social sciences (Crick 1989), and 1990 saw the publication of sociologist John Urry's influential The Tourist Gaze. Since then, studies have proceeded apace. During the past three years no fewer than six new collections of case studies have been published (Boissevain 1996; Briguglio 1996; Selwyn 1996; Waldren 1996; Fsadni and Selwyn 1997; Abram, Waldren and Macleod 1997). The present volume reflects this renewed interest in tourism. Why, we may well ask, has interest in the field developed so slowly, and what accounts for its sudden take-off in the 1990s?

There are several reasons why some researchers – anthropologists for example – were reluctant to look at tourism. During the 1960s and 1970s, as mass tourism began to spread, most anthropologists were still engaged in studies of relatively isolated communities, which tourists seldom reached. Thus, they saw no tourists. Moreover, most were still examining 'their' communities as closed systems in which there was no theoretical place for tourists. If tourists were signalled, field workers tended to ignore their presence. Like Malinowski, who had disregarded the presence of white planters throughout his Trobriand fieldwork during the first World War, most anthropologists, until the 1970s, avoided facing up to the complex presence of 'outsiders'. Others, working with neomarxist theoretical models, regarded tourists as neocolonialists from the cosmopolitan centre, bent on exploiting the underdeveloped countries of the periphery. They dismissed them as furthering structural underdevelopment.

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