[URBANTH-L]CFP: Tourism and Postmodernity

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Tue Oct 18 13:12:33 EDT 2005

Call for Papers


16th ISA World Congress of Sociology
Research Committee 50 (International Tourism)
Durban, South-Africa, 23-29 July 2006

Panel directed by David Picard (Sheffield Hallam, UK) and Stephanie Hom Cary (UC Berkeley, USA)

This is the first call for papers for the RC 50 TOURISM AND POSTMODERNITY panel as part of the 16th ISA World Congress of Sociology which will take place in  Durban, South-Africa, from 23rd to 29th July 2006. The aim of this panel is to critically re-discuss and, possibly, to overcome the notion of 'postmodernity' as a way to theorise social contexts and/or conditions in which tourism practice emerges.

Influential writers like Jean-François Lyotard (1982), David Harvey (1990), and Frederic Jameson (1991) have defined postmodernity or postmodernism by the disarticulation - or 'liquidification' - of established and socially recognised systems of signifiers and signified, and the implosion of meaningful webs of relationships, which subtended collective understandings of "reality" "truth", "nature" and "being". In this sense, the important structural changes of demographic, economic and political environments in the second part of the 20th century were calling into question both emic and etic categories with which to think social reality, including nation-state, society, ethnicity, family, gender, race, kin, time and space. At the same time, this moment appeared to have enabled individuals to playfully create and experiment with new semiotic compositions; compositions that inspire novel ways of relating to the world at large. In the context of tourism, 'post-modern' tourists were said to embrace the ludic as they participate and immerse in various sign-worlds. This supposedly new form of tourist was said to be informed of the constructed - or "artificial" - nature of the worlds touristically encountered. Academic discourse implicitly often opposed these so-called "post-tourists" to earlier forms of "modern" tourists seeking "authenticity," in or beyond a particular, then 'solid' tourism setting. 

Typically, two different critical perspectives theorise the relationship between post-modernity and post-tourism. The first holds that changes in the production and consumption of tourism have actually taken place during the past thirty years, with tourism becoming a manifestation of and metaphor for the disappearance of absolute values, beliefs and structures as well as the postmodern fluidity of social life. The second contends that tourism as a social practice has not fundamentally changed since the Grand Tour, but that its underlying cultural structures and collective imaginaries have simply transformed into new contexts and recreated systems of meaning by adopting new themes and aesthetic references. In this sense, one could ask who or what, exactly, is being 'liquidified': is it the conditions of social life, or is it the systems of symbolic continuity underlying the academic approach, or is it both? 

The aim of papers to be presented during this panel is to address the tension between these two theoretical poles, in particular by approaching three sets of central questions:

(a) How pertinent is 'postmodernism' or the post-modern perspective to theorise tourism practice? Beyond conceptualisations of post-modernity, which alternative approaches have been brought forward to generate a deeper understanding of tourism?

(b) Which methodological frameworks and approaches have proven to be pertinent in making sense of tourism and its collective nature?  

(c) Seen as a form of narrative, to what extent can academic discourse in tourism studies escape intellectual fashions and metaphorical images (borrowed from other disciplines or fields)? 

For further details or to submit an abstract (300 words summary of presentation plus full contact information), contact David Picard (d.picard at shu.ac.uk) AND Stephanie Hom-Cary (shcary at berkeley.edu), or go to www.tourismstudies.org or www.tourism-culture.com. The deadline for the reception of abstracts is 12th Dec 2005.

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