Journeys into Lost Memories: Migration, Tourism and Historical Choreographies in some Alpine Valleys
Some villages in the Piedmont Alps have festive rituals which have medieval roots and are still designated by the term «abbeys ». In the nineteenth century these «abbeys » saw a contraction of their sphere of activity, that was reduced to performances during the local festivals, either religious or secular (as in the case of Carnival). A ceremonial order was set in the twentieth century and became a frozen tradition, reluctant to subsequent innovations. These transformations occurred in a context of demographic haemorrhage and economic decline, when these Alpine valleys were decimated by a strong emigration toward France or Italian towns. In this period such festivals become an opportunity to renew links with those who have left and come back to this occasion by making a sort of pilgrimage into lost memories (and often becoming important actors in the ritual sphere). Even today, the local communities are affirming their continuity with the past, through ritual choreographies with a strong historical flavour, which associate the few permanent residents, the many emigrants (and their descendents) who keep intermittent relationship with the village and, more and more, tourists and media.
Religious Heritage Monuments and the Re-Enchantment of the World in Brittany
This paper explores the changing uses of, attitudes toward and meanings of religious monuments in contemporary Brittany. I argue that the transformed relationship between people and religious art and architecture in this region corresponds to the shift between memory and history, as described by historian Pierre Nora. Increasingly divorced from “lived religion,” religious buildings are now valued as sites where a material connection with the past can be maintained. Moreover, these buildings continue to perform sacred (but not necessarily Roman Catholic) functions as sites anchoring collective memory and embodying immortality, both for Bretons and for people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Mecca: Touristic Transformations of a Muslim Pilgrimage Center
The urban developments of the city of Mecca and the airline connections between the city and the rest of the world have increased exponentially in the last ten year. The relative ease with which this destination is now accessible as well as its visual omnipresence in the Muslim world through the multiplication of religious channels have radically changed the relation between Muslim pilgrims and this religious center par excellence. What used to be, not long ago, a once in a life-time pilgrimage and a prestigious rite of passage conferring social status and authority to whom was able to achieve it, has become, for significant number of pilgrims from western countries and the Maghreb, in particular the youngest, a ressourcing pilgrimage, in which religious fervour and the non-religious activities, are intrinsically woven in new and unprecedented proportions. Through the study of sequences concerning the preparations and narratives of pilgrimage involving French and Tunisian Muslims, I suggest showing the changing touristic dimension of the pilgrimage in Mecca, and how this gives way to new negotiations between these two poles of activities in the city.
Maria Cardeira da Silva
Crossing the desert in Mauritania. Old roads and new destinies of salvation
Until last years’attacks on French tourists, Mauritania - a poor, Islamic African country - was a good setting to project onto Western impulses as the tourist gaze, cultural authenticity principles, salvation and aid desires. This was expressed in the proliferation of certain types of tourism, but also (and frequently both are interwoven) humanitarian, social, economic and cultural cooperation projects. Besides their historical and economical value, the oasis towns of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tidjika and Oualata in Mauritania (classified UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1996) have accumulated the symbolic capital of knowledge and religiosity gathered throughout centuries of flows of pilgrims who, taking advantage of the trade routes, travelled from the south on their way to Mecca. But this intangible, symbolic capital does have a tangible, material expression: the passageway for pilgrims, students and ulemas led to a concentration of amazing libraries and collections of manuscripts that many families have kept for generations, some manuscripts dating back to the eleventh century (third century after Hegira). Since the 1980s, and following the Arabizing reconfiguration of Mauritania, various projects to preserve the manuscripts have been financed by international organisations such as UNESCO and its Arab and Islamic counterparts, Alesco and ISESCO, by foundations such as Rhône-Poulenc and the Mauritanian Fondation Nationale pour la Sauvegarde dês Villes Anciennes, as well as companies such as FNAC. And this happened at the same time as tourism in Adrar developed. Irrespective of the actual contents of the books and manuscripts, they are there as witnesses to a past of great cultural traffic between “deep” Africa and the Mediterranean, on the way to Mecca. For most of the tourists, they mean a great deal more as objects than as documents (illegible to tourists in any case) and project images such as “city of tolerance threatened by sand dunes”. In this paper I will endeavour to present some ethnographic evidence of how, in Mauritania, old pilgrimage roads became new destinies of salvational tourism and heritage.
Challenging the Tourist/Pilgrim Divide. Alternative Pilgrimages to Catholic Shrines in Southern France
This paper is based on fieldwork among pilgrims influenced by the transnational feminist spirituality movement visiting Catholic shrines in Southern Europe. It explores the way in which these pilgrims’ conceptualization of their journeys challenges the distinction between pilgrimage and tourism, but also other “classical” dichotomies such as those of sacred / profane or body / soul. I will argue that these pilgrims’ approach to sacred sites and the creative rituals they perform there are by no way unique but rather the expression of a different way to engage both with pilgrimage and tourism. This alternative approach to sites considered as “power places” is becoming more and more popular and offers social scientists the opportunity to revise their theoretical approach to sacred journeys.
Tourism as Religious Booster: the Catholic Church in Rhodes
As a recent official Greek territory, the island of Rhodes is a perfect site to observe how a historically grounded religious community can react to the new dynamics of tourism development (over 1 million tourists visit the island every year) and interconfessional cohabitation (Orthodoxy is the state’s official religion, but Islam, Judaism and other Christian confessions are also present). In the capital of the island, Rhodes, where most of the 2.000 Catholic people are settled today, the principal activity of the priest, who is bearing the title of archbishop of the Dodecanese diocese, has been to improve and stabilize the Christian catholic presence and visibility. How can such a small community face the supremacy of Greek orthodoxy and deal with an ephemeral tourist Catholic audience? And what are the consequences of this peculiar Catholic agency?
Due to the former influence of the Western states and papal obedience since the crusades and the Italian colonization in the beginning of the 20th century, the Roman Church of Rhodes is mobilizing an alternative reading of the local history, in order to legitimate its current place. On the other hand, the touristification and the heritagisation of the city have brought many Catholic foreigners into the local Catholic churches. This new audience has forced the local Church to adapt the rituals for its temporary worshipers.
This paper draws an ethnography of the pragmatic program of the Catholic staff in the context of Rhodes. It provides a description of the material and conceptual transformations touching the memories and places of the Catholics in Rhodes (namely, by analyzing the alternative heritage narratives, the collection of devotional objects and some writing archives), as well as the ritual patterns used with the tourists (especially ethnographic material concerning multilingual rituals and shared devotions). The central aim is to show the interconnections between these two sides of the Catholic action in the island and to present their multilayered effects on this confession.
This paper is based on a fieldwork supported by the research program "Les Balkans par le bas-Balkabas" (ANR-08-JCJC-0091-01 - Idemec, UMR 6591 CNRS and Université Aix-Marseille).
António Miguel Nogués Pedregal
The Chronotope in Tourism Contexts
Inspired by the work of the Russian literary theorist Mikhail M. Bakhtine, I assume dialogics to be a perspective and, thus, I use it heuristically. Among the many key bakhtinian concepts (for instance, heteroglossia, polyphony or carnivalesque) that of chronotope (time-space) seems quite relevant and suitable to understand tourism. ‘Chronotope’ is the term taken over by Bakhtine from 1920s science to describe the manner in which literature represents time and space and forms a matrix that organises narratives in the text. Thus, in different types of texts there are different chronotopes through which different historical conceptions of time and space coincide. I use the notion of chronotope as the metaphorical axis within which practices are carried out by insiders and outsiders, so to comprehend cultural and social processes in tourism contexts. Tourism is mostly based upon the Desire of experiencing ‘otherness’ in situ. This attraction for difference or alterotropism (alter = other, trope = move towards or away from a stimulus) occurs within the frame of a distinctive tourism chronotope with particular attributes and characteristics that are to be explained. Whilst analysing this peculiar type of social tropism that induces travelling away from home, researchers are challenged with, at least, two spatial and temporal contexts: that of the visitors and that of the locals: that of the world of wishes and expectations, and that of ‘real-lifes’ at destinations. In my lecture I will focus on the analyses of a selection of such space-time interactions through different examples charted among residential tourists and local population in the Costa Blanca (Spain), to discuss whether the possibility of any real communicative acts between them can in fact take place or, much on the contrary, they simply happen to co-exist in time and space.
Tropical Island Magic: Ontology of Matter and Space in Tourism
This paper explores tourism in terms of a spatial practice invoking and bringing into being different regimes of ontological order. It will follow the metaphor of ‘magic’ as a quality associated with tropical islands and explore how this is being mobilised before, during and after the journey. The paper uses data from an ethnographic study based on direct observations of tourists during their journey in the tropical island of La Reunion and back in their home contexts (mainly in Germany). The study shows how the contact, physical immersion, ingestion of food, absorption of light, etc. of the tourist body leads to a subjectively perceived ‘ontological handshake’ where tensions and qualitative differences with the touristic ‘destination’ are nullified. At the end of the journey, tourists through their bodies and, maybe more importantly, through material souvenirs, subsequently transport the ontological quality of the island into the post-touristic context of their homes. They feel their bodies being ‘recharged’ while tourist souvenirs they brought home (including photographs) seems able to pertain a ‘power’ stemming from the island that can be activated in specific circumstances (to evoke stories of the trip, to overcome temporary life-crisis, etc.). The paper will question the constitution of ‘magic’ as a phenomenological quality underpinning the order of modern society and the way such ‘magic’ is generated, maintained and renewed through the cultivation and ritualised transgression (here through tourism) of ontological difference.
In-Between Worlds: Eurasian Travellers, Nostalgic Encounters and Imagined Homelands
This paper explores relationships between tourism and the production of nostalgia among the Malacca Portuguese. Drawing from ethnographic research in Malacca (West Malaysia), I specifically discuss the social construction and appropriation of space in Kampung Portugis, a tourist-oriented neighbourhood facing the Straits of Malacca. Planned under colonial rule (as a low-income residential area for the minority group of Portuguese-Eurasians), the place has become a Gazetted Heritage Site, as well as an imagined homeland for Eurasian travellers in search of their roots. Adopting a constructivist approach, I explore its multilayered context, shaped and transformed by visitors (and their travelling practices), residents and policy makers (among other agents). A second line of argument aims at deconstructing the meaning of Portuguese, both as an analytical category in contemporary Malaysia and as a touristic ‘label’. Excess of visibility of the name is put into contrast with the silences and mute voices of alternative meanings ascribed to being a Malacca Portuguese in contemporary Malaysian society. I argue that, from colonial to contemporary times, a rhetoric of nostalgia about ‘Portugal’ and the ‘Portuguese’ is used by the group in presenting itself, reversely, a rather comparable discursive process is also present in the way the group is represented by Malaysian leaders. Finally, I discuss the epistemological (ir)relevance of concepts such as ‘tourist’, ‘sacred’ and ‘collective memory’, in order to understand the local empirical context.
Valerio Simoni Riba
Coping with Ambiguous Relationships: The Transformations of Travel, Tourism, and Tourists in Cuba
Relationships between foreign tourists and members of the visited population in Cuba tend to be ridden with ambiguities in regards to their instrumental and commoditized dimensions. In the realm of sexual encounters, these ambiguities become a source of moral controversy, as they call into question notions of ‘sex tourism’ and ‘prostitution’. Focusing on how foreign men travelling to Cuba account for sexual relationships with Cuban women, the paper shows how a variety of notions of travel, of tourism, and of being a tourist are purposefully played out to justify people’s engagements. From the establishment of continuities between sexual seduction ‘at home’ and ‘on tour’, to the normalization of sex for money exchanges, to the quest for an ‘authentic Cuban sexuality’ - different modalities and moralities of travel are actualized in tourists’ narratives, alternatively silencing and highlighting key transformations in the places, people, and concepts of travel and tourism.
Tourism as a 'Life-Changing Event’: a Contribution from Film Studies
In this paper I propose that the role of films in tourism goes well beyond that of creating in the audience a sense of anticipation regarding a potential tourist destination, the strongest angle from which the tourism-cinema relationship has been hitherto discussed. My hypothesis is that the way tourism and tourists have been taken up and developed in classical narrative films – the most popular and widely-seen type of film – has also influenced the way these categories have been conceived of and theorised, as well as experienced and lived through (not least by academics, themselves a major travelling group). I argue that the classical narrative form – usually consisting of a sequence of character-centred events that moves from an initial problem towards its final resolution – favours the presentation in film of tourism as a ‘life-changing experience’. I will look at the way this idea, so deeply entrenched in the social sciences, has been handled in a number of mainstream films.
From an Industrial Suburb to an Urban Place: Visiting Alcântara at the Turn of the 20th Century
This paper aims to explore the effects the diffusion of tourist practices had on the perception of the urban world. The history of tourist spaces is here considered as an extension of urban history. Such an approach enables us to analyze the role that tourism played in the evolution of the organization and uses of urban spaces or, in other words, in the way the city was being experienced and lived. The central hypothesis of this paper is that the development of tourist practices and situations contributed to frame the discontinuous progress of the urbanization process. This involves an effort to move beyond the exploration of specific tourist contexts and places, and to think about the complex relationship between, on the one hand, the material and social arrangements of the city, and on the other, the discourses and representations produced around it. My paper draws on a specific case study, namely: the identity transformation of the Alcântara neighborhood, in turn-of-the-century Lisbon from an industrial suburb to a popular and “urban” place. During this process, Alcântara became “visible” and “visitable”. Two types of discourses played an active part in this development: the first one was a kind of urbanophobia, very widespread in Europe at the end of the 19th century, which must be understood in the context of industrialization and the diffusion of an industrial (and desacralized) city model; the second type, which I connect to the making of a tourist gaze on the city, seeks instead to renew the link between the city and the sacred, both in a metaphorical way (patent, for example, in the experience of walking in the city) and in a social and material way (through the construction of neighborhood identities and heritage policies).