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Tourist Wanderings

Convenor: Rebecca Bennett

Tourism is under theorised in its popular cultural format. I promote a Cultural Studies interdisciplinary style of critique of tourist movements, pleasures, cultures and (sub)cultures by playfully and politically engaging with tourism’s representation in popular culture.

Merging and expanding on Tourism Studies’ economic, ecological, anthropological and sociological perspectives finds politics at play within tourism-as-pleasure discourses to encourage greater reflexivity amongst those who have access to the economic and social powers found in mobility as leisure. I am searching for ways tourism might be used to encourage more respectful exchanges and conversations between hosts and guests on practical as well as theoretical terms.

I do not want to see tourist movements and interactions easily forgotten upon a traveller’s return. Poverty, immobility, cultural difference and diversity need to be critiqued as well as celebrated in tourist exchanges.I encourage a critical tourist literacy that allows travellers to see possibilities for change and self critique during (and especially after) their ‘holidays’ without losing the pleasures experienced being away from ‘home’.

Enjoyment and wonder should not be mutually exclusive from politics but macro-economic hierarchies must be exposed in touristic representation and practice if tourism exchanges are to be equitable for all parties involved. It is important to see and hear the people who can not move through national or international space for recreation. It is equally important for tourists to be aware of their own cultural and political limitations in unfamiliar contexts and to critically see and hear themselves. Tourist Wanderings is a space for theory, fiction, cinema, television and corporeal travels to enjoy reflexive tourist spaces at ‘home’, ‘away’ or somewhere in between.

It is also a space to reveal, discuss and to attempt to resolve the globally problematic positioning of tourist cultures and (sub)cultures in contemporary popular memory. A prospective project that I hope our Hub will investigate is Local Original Music in Perth in international backpacker communities. I suggest replacing mutually exclusive “backpacker” nights in local venues in favour of inviting independent travellers to experience the Perth local original music scene. This works to de-homogenise backpacker experiences and pleasures.

‘Backpacker’ nights tend to have the same music in Bolivia as in London and ‘global’ backpacker anthems such as Bob Marley, Macarena and medleys from the musical Greece drown out the local contexts in which independent travellers have placed themselves. Self reflexive awareness of ‘place’ is an important focus if backpacker communities are to become more thoughtful and equitable travelling environments. To invite so-called international ‘youth’ culture into Perth’s ‘local’ urban settings will also help to empower, promote and circulate Perth’s urban popular culture internationally making the city in its vibrancy a tourist destination, not simply a base from which to visit the surrounding West Australian beaches, forests and wildlife.