Serial tourist: leisure, tourists, tourisms
Serial Tourists: Leisure, Tourisms and Tourists
University of Lille, France
Nov. 2-3, 2018
Defined by the MIT group as a displacement whose purpose is recreational, tourism articulates spaces and practices and in that regard it constitutes an object of investigation (and fictionalization) that is particularly intriguing.
If MIT distinguishes between leisure (the local, the daily) and tourism (the remote, the non-ordinary), the displacement of tourism, like leisure, is to be understood in contrast with work and production. Both are located in liminal spaces and activate complex modes of representation which are sometimes superimposed or doubled over, like literary tourism or screen tourism. As early as the sixteenth century, Petrarch pilgrims would go to South of France on a quest for “Laura” sites, guided by maps indicating the places referred to in the poems (Hendrix: 2009), driven by the same motive that prompted Bram Stoker’s readers to book one of the many Transylvania tours proposed by tour-operators: under the guise of visiting places, tourists try to enter another ontological universe. In that respect, their project is analogous to that of a theme park visitor. This is why tourism practices (“discovery”, “experience”) can be examined through the prism of performance (Edensor: 2001) and not only as an educational means to acquire proficiency in the adequate response to heritage (Room With a View) or attraction enjoyment. Tourists have their own way of constantly inventing new practices.
Sometimes denounced as touristification or disneyfication, this trend towards the estheticization of the world (Lipovetsky: 2013) is accompanied by a largely ignored counter-movement, that of the normalization or de-differentiation of tourist destinations, in particular that of seaside resorts turning into regular cities with time (Urry: 1994), or residential areas conceived after theme park models, like Celebration in Florida, originally meant for Disneyworld employees and borrowing from its architectural codes. More generally, even tourist enclaves like Cancun in Mexico, derided as “Gringolandia”, influence local consumption practices (eating out at MacDonald’s as a family ritual).
Such porosity between everydayness and leisure, although the latter is supposed to mark a break from the routine of work, complexifies the correlation between identity and place; this correlation is now set up in the plural form and the hypothetical mode. Zygmunt Bauman’s metaphor of the tourist replacing the pilgrim in our period (Bauman: 1998) has become literal; we are uncommitted consumers even of space and the literal tourist stands as a magnified, stylized version of the consumer.
The “recreational turn” (Stock: 2007) corresponds to the academic recognition of the importance of leisure to explain and account not only for commodification and globalization but for contemporary society at large.
A non-exhaustive list of questions and topics to be explored include:
- What is the connection between leisure, fiction, and experience ? Theme parks and fiction and the back and forth movement between theme parks incarning a diegetic universe and being fictionalized in turn (Jurassic Park, Westland, Le Park…) ; literary tours and writers’ houses; screen tourism, reality tourism …
- What is the status of space within the tourist’s experience ? Conceived places, cultural past, heritage: defamiliarization and appropriation, spaces of representation, differentiation and de-differentiation
- New practices and new forms of tourism : dark tourism, abandoned tourism, screen tourism, food tourism, mining tourism, industry tourism, gay tourism, narcotourism, reality tourism (a modern version of “slumming”? )...
- Leisure and communication, social media before, during, and after the tourist experience, tourism advertising, resort branding and marketing strategies of the leisure industry
- Stroll, promenade, flanerie
- Tourism and socialization, tourism rituals
- Sharing space : visitors and locals, customers and clients, separation and influence
Notifications of acceptance will be sent no later than Oct.1, 2018.
A selection of papers will be published.
The symposium is organized with the support of the research unit CECILLE (University of Lille)
 “Mobilities, Itineraries, Tourisms” research team (1993-2008, Paris VIII University).