Title

2016 AAA Invited Session: TOURISM IN A TIME OF TERROR: TERRORISM, POLITICS AND VIOLENCE (PART 1)

Document Type

Video

Publication Date

1-12-2017

Abstract

In line with the American Anthropological Association’s 115th Annual Meeting theme, “Evidence, Accident, Discovery,” which aims to interrogate the “underlying causes and foreseeability of violence and catastrophes” as well as how “misfortune is interpreted and causality attributed in humanly-preventable harm,” this session—Tourism in a Time of Terror, Part I: Terrorism, Politics and Violence—examines the ways in which tourism and travel impacts, and is impacted by, terror in all of its forms. By “terror,” we mean not only the current wave of militarized, religio-political terrorism that is sweeping much of the world—from Pakistan to the United States, Belgium to Kenya—but also other acute fears stemming from natural and man-made disasters: severe economic crises, migration and the immigrant “other,” nuclear meltdowns, tsunamis, and climate change. Indeed, like other global phenomena, tourism is shaped and structured by worldwide, systemic factors; while often seen as external to the objectives, goals, and processes of tourism, these “outside” forces nevertheless contribute to shaping and indeed structuring the ways in which tourism is both implemented and experienced by a range of actors. In this post-9/11 era, tourism is inexorably tied to, and shaped by, terror and terrorism: on the one hand, strong feelings of affect repel travel to lands perceived of as dangerous, radical, or contaminated; on the other hand, terrorism itself often specifically targets touristic infrastructures (busses, trains, airplanes and airports, markets, heritage sites, etc.). Yet terror also works as a compelling “mechanism of seduction” that draws the curious, adventuresome, or thana-obsessed to “dark tourism” sites of death, destruction, and historical violence. While some anthropologists examined the link between tourism and terror in the years surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the eastern United States, there is a notable gap in contemporary engagement with the issue. Complementing the ATIG-sponsored Part II, which explores affect, insecurity and disasters, this session--Part I: Terrorism, Politics and Violence--focuses on the socio-political dynamics of tourism and terror, exploring the ways in which global forms of violence and terror both condition and are conditioned by tourism. In particular, the papers here show how tourism is used by both nation-states asserting their governmentality as well as by so-called terrorists aiming to foster instability. Collectively, they examine the social, political and economic impacts of transnational terror on tourism: from jihadist terrorism and political instability in North Africa and the Middle East, to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, from Caribbean violence to Mexican and Afghani narco-terrorism (as well as the transnational so-called "war on drugs"). Together, they interrogate both the causes of the link between intentional acts of fear-creation with tourism, as well as responses by tourists and those within the tourism industry to intentional and unintentional acts of terror.

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