Tourism Geopolitics

Assemblages of Infrastructure, Affect, and Imagination

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By the start of the century, nearly one billion international travelers were circulating the globe annually, placing tourism among the worlds’ most ubiquitous geopolitical encounters. While the COVID-19 pandemic brought the industry to a sudden halt, its geopolitical significance remained. With striking clarity, tourism desires and reinvented mobilities revealed the impermanence of Old World orders as new global alliances were forged. While scholars have critically examined tourism in the contexts of development, cultural change, and environmental crisis, much less attention has been paid to the geopolitical drivers and consequences of the world’s largest industry. This collection homes in on tourism and its geopolitical entanglements by examining its contemporary affects, imaginaries, and infrastructures. It develops the concept of tourism geopolitics to reveal the growing centrality of tourism in geopolitical life, as well as the geopolitical nature of the tourism encounter.

In Tourism Geopolitics, contributors show enacted processes such as labor migration, conservation, securitization, nation building, territorial disputes, ethnic cleansing, heritage revitalization, and global health crisis management, among others. These contended societal processes are deployed through tourism development initiatives that mobilize deeply uneven symbolic and material landscapes. The chapters reveal how a range of experiences are implicated in this process: museum visits, walking tours, architectonical evocations of the past, road construction, militarized island imaginations, gendered cultural texts, and official silences. Collectively, the chapters offer ethnographically rich illustrations from around the world that demonstrate the critical nature of tourism in formal geopolitical practices, as well as the geopolitical nature of everyday tourism encounters. This volume is a vital read for critical geographers, anthropologists, and political scientists, as well as scholars of tourism and cultural studies.

Contributors: Sarah Becklake, M. Bianet Castellanos, Matilde Córdoba Azcárate, Jason Dittmer, Klaus Dodds, Jamie Gillen, Simon Halink, Jordan Hallbauer, James Igoe, Debbie Lisle, Mary Mostafanezhad, Dieter K. Müller, Roger Norum, Alessandro Rippa, Ian Rowen, Robert Saunders, Juan Francisco Salazar, Tani Sebro, Mimi Sheller, Henry Szadziewski, Vernadette Vicuña González, Emma Waterton


Introduction: Tourism Geopolitics
Matilde Córdoba Azcárate, Mary Mostafanezhad, and Roger Norum


1 Tourism and the Nature of Geopolitics in Tanzania’s Maasai Steppe, 1997–2017
Jim Igoe

2 Tourism and the Production of State Territory: The Case of Taiwan and China
Ian Rowen

3 Polar Expressed: Resources of Extraction, Mobility, and Science in the High Arctic
Roger Norum

4 Tourism in National Arctic Strategies: A Perspective on the Tourism-Geopolitics Nexus
Dieter K. Mülle

5 Geysers, Game of Thrones, and Geopolitics: Iceland as a Zone of Strategic Tourism
Robert A. Saunders and Simon Halink


6 Naval-Gazing:The Popular Geopolitics of Affect and Maritime Heritage
Jason Dittmer and Emma Waterton

7 Troubling Self and Other at the Hanoi Hilton: Recasting Geopolitical Identity in Tourism
Jamie Gillen

8 Tourism Otherwise? The Touristic Mobilities of South-South Travel
Tani Sebro and Jordan Hallbauer

9 Gendered Touristic Security: The Case of Guatemala
Sarah Becklake

10 Guardians of Tradition: The Affective and Popular Geopolitics of Yucatec Maya Women on Tour
Bianet Castellanos and Matilde Córdoba Azcárate


11 Sticky Infrastructures: Security, Humanitarianism, Tourism, and Migration on Kos
Debbie Lisle

12 The Geopolitics of Offshore Infrastructure-Space: Remediating Military Bases, Tourist Resorts, and Alternative Island Futures
Mimi Shelle

13 Weaponizing Tourism: Infrastructure and Homestays at the Crossroads of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Kashgar
Henryk Szadziewski and Mary Mostafanezhad

14 Environing the Tourism Frontier: Infrastructure, Nature, and the State in China’s Dulong Valley
Alessandro Rippa and Roger Norum

15 Gateway Geopolitics: Assembling Infrastructure, Policies, and Tourism in Hobart and Australian Antarctic Territory/East Antarctica
Klaus Dodds and Juan Francisco Salazar

Conclusion: COVID-19 and the Geopolitical End of Tourism
Roger Norum, Mary Mostafanezhad and Matilde Córdoba Azcárate

Afterword: On the Rage of Women from Small Places
Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez


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