Take Me to My Paradise: Tourism and Nationalism in the British Virgin Islands

Take Me to My Paradise: Tourism and Nationalism in the British Virgin Islands

Take Me to My Paradise: Tourism and Nationalism in the British Virgin Islands

Take Me to My Paradise: Tourism and Nationalism in the British Virgin Islands

Synopsis

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) markets itself to international visitors as a paradise. But just whose paradise is it? Colleen Ballerino Cohen looks at the many players in the BVI tourism culture, from the tourists who leave their graffiti at beach bars that are popularized in song, to the waiters who serve them and the singers who entertain them.

Interweaving more than twenty years of field notes, Cohen provides a firsthand analysis of how tourism transformed the BVI from a small neglected British colony to a modern nation that competes in a global economic market. With its close reading of everything from advertisements to political manifestos and constitutional reforms, Take Me to My Paradise deepens our understanding of how nationalism develops hand-in-hand with tourism, and documents the uneven impact of economic prosperity upon different populations. We hear multiple voices, including immigrants working in a tourism economy, nationalists struggling to maintain some control, and the anthropologist trying to make sense of it all. The result is a richly detailed and accessible ethnography on the impact of tourism on a country that came into being as a tourist destination.

Excerpt

Big ol’ jet plane, wide-span, chrome-plated wings
Fly me to my island, fly me to that island in the sun.
Concrete jungle and that painted smile you put on me
Say I got to leave you, Yeah you know I got to leave you,
       now.
Come come come come take me, take me to my
       Paradise….
I miss dancing to the reggae under island skies
I just got to be there, I miss my BVIs
Come come come come take me, take me to my
       Paradise….
The cappuccino and caviar is not for me
Give me a salt fish patty and some co-co tea
Come come come come take me, take me to my
       Paradise….

—Quito Rymer

The title of this book comes from the song “Paradise,” written by Quito Rymer, a British Virgin Islands artist, songwriter, and musician who is known throughout the bvi and by his fans abroad simply as Quito. When I first heard Quito sing this song in his popular beach bar on Cane Garden Bay in the bvi, I was struck by how many different paradises it called forth. in “Paradise,” Quito sings about being homesick while living away from the bvi. Contrasting the “concrete jungle” with his island home, he yearns to dance under the stars and to eat local food. the combined reggae and slow calypso rhythm of “Paradise” matches the sensual images of Quito’s lyrics, and so tourists embrace as their own anthem this song that evokes the soft nights, swaying palms, and endless vacation of tourist brochures. When I am away from the bvi, I play the cd of “Paradise” and sing along to it, missing— but probably not in the same way that Quito does—“dancing to the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.