Tourism: Space, Leisure, and the Global Economy (In-Person)

Instructor: Andy Battle
BISR Central
68 Jay Street, #425
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Between 1950 and 2015, international tourist arrivals increased from 25 million a year to nearly 1.2 billion. Recreational travel had once been restricted to the wealthy, but the invention of the steamship, the railway, the automobile, and the jet plane dovetailed with the emergence of societies based on mass consumption to beget new armies of travelers. Today, hit shows like The White Lotus skewer the pretensions of rich travelers while “digital nomads” enabled by contemporary communication technologies transform places across the world, from Bali to Barcelona. Yet, the question of tourism concerns not only the tourist, but also the places to which they travel—or, more specifically, the emerging economies of tourism and the ensuing transformations of space, production, and labor. If tourism is an industry, how can we understand its development in the context of wider, neoliberalizing trends in the global economy? What, exactly, is a tourist economy? And what does it mean for the lives, and leisure, of tourists and “natives” alike?

In this course, we will explore global tourism as a system and culture, taking up questions about commodification, leisure, mass consumption, experience, authenticity, ecology, imperialism, and the connections between them. How should we define “tourism”? What drives the desire to travel? Who counts as a “tourist” and who does not? What forces render local economies across the world dependent on tourist money? How have the lives of cities come to be shaped around the experiences of those who do not live there? How does the tourist experience shape our encounters with what is different from us? What does it mean to have an “authentic” experience of a place? Is there such a thing as socially responsible tourism? In addition to reading Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, a critique of contemporary tourism so uncompromising that The New Yorker refused to publish it, we will explore questions around travel, commodification, leisure, homesickness, and more with the help of authors and filmmakers like Marc Augé, Susan Sontag, Jean Baudrillard, Hiroki Azuma, Frantz Fanon, Theodor Adorno, Dean McCannell, David Harvey, Chantal Akerman, Marco D’Eramo, and more.

Course Schedule

Thursday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
June 06 — June 27, 2024
4 weeks


Registration Open

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