Palma, from 23 to 25 October 2013
Celebrating and Enhancing the Tourism
Knowledge-based Platform: A Tribute to Jafar Jafari


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General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 24 October, 2013 13:10 to 13:30 Oral Communication
The Tourist as the Paradigmatic Post-Political Figure
Speaker: Richard Ek, Lund University - Campus Helsingborg

Authors: Richard Ek, Mekonnen Tesfahuney


What can be said about the politics and poetics of the tourist, conceptualized as a Weberian ideal type? The underlying paradigm of conventional (mainstream) tourism theory is tourism as jouissance. Tourism is about leisure and amusement, it is innocent fun (Mowford & Munt 2003: 1). It is as if the tourist is not even remotely political. Tourism and the tourist are always already conceived as beyond/outside of politics, as a-political. Thus, the political impacts are seen as incidental or ancillary to tourism. From the perspective of political theory and philosophy the tourist is a post-political figure. The post-political condition is a societal contemporariness in which politics is out-defined as something else, usually of economic nature and therefore something that should (and increasingly is) handled on economic markets of different kinds. The post-political figure is not a member of the political community, polis, not a democratic being, but a mobile, detached stranger without a political interest in the places and the societies he or she passes through. Instead, the post-political figure of the tourist passes through markets of commercial spectacles, sights and sites of indulgence, engaging in bodies and experience for sale, as depicted in Michel Hollenbecque’s ‘Plateforme’. Yet, conceptions of the tourist as a-political and post-political, are supremely political (Zizek 1999). In this paper, we argue that the paradigmatic view of tourism as pleasure is a key aspect of the conduct of politics by other means, i.e. post-politics. The tourist is the symbol of the post-political era, a mobile, narcissistic, pleasure seeking and consuming creature. More analytically speaking we especially depart from Giorgio Agamben’s conceptualization of the paradigmatic figure as a figure that stands beside (para-) but hides within another figure. In the Italian philosophers reasoning, the camp is the paradigmatic organizational model that has, metaphysically speaking, since the origin of Western political thought been standing beside polis. The topography of the polis (the inclusion-exclusion – model that has been foundational for the idea of community) has hidden the organizational figure standing beside (the camp, based on the principle of the threshold that makes it spatially possible to be both inside and outside at the same time, what Agamben calls “inclusive exclusion”). Following this schematically reasoning, we argue and discuss that the post-political figure of the tourist has always been standing beside the citizen, as the tourist is the principal figure of the camp while the citizen is the principal figure of the polis. Besides sketching out the contours of the tourist as the prime post-political figure or creature, our argumentation also has the ambition to offer a metaphysical scrutiny of the ideas in tourist theory regarding the tourist as a genuinely modern or even post-modern figure. When Agamben radicalizes Foucault’s notion on biopolitics by claiming that politics was biopolitics from its very start, we argue through the same logic; the citizen was a tourist from the very start, the tourist figure was silently standing beside the political citizen, until now. Increasingly, the tourist starts to outshine its twin/rival, most clearly in states of emergency like natural catastrophes as the hurricane Katrina incident in 2005 in which the safety of tourists was put before the safety of citizen by emergency authorities.
Session 2 – Ontologies, epistemologies and disciplinarity (2)
Place: Main Room

Other activities in Session 2 – Ontologies, epistemologies and disciplinarity (2)
12:50 h. to 13:10 h.Oral Communication

A tourism fieldworker in a digital media world

Speaker: Can-Seng Ooi, Copenhagen Business School
12:30 h. to 12:50 h.Oral Communication

The View from 2013: Three Conceptualizations of the Relationship between Tourism and Social Life

Speaker: Kellee Caton, Thompson Rivers University