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The “Worldmaking” Prodigy of Tourism: The Reach and Power of Tourism in the Dynamics of Change and Transformation

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This review article is the second of a pair of articles that introduce the field of Tourism Studies/Tourism Management (hereafter Tourism Studies) to the concept of worldmaking as an operational construct to help critically describe the creative/inventive role and function of tourism in the making of culture and place. In the first article—the companion manuscript, which appeared in the preceding issue of Tourism Analysis—the recent work of Meethan in Tourism in Global Society: Place, Culture, and Consumption (hereafter “Tourism as Global Society”) was used as a conceptual catalyst to help make the case for deeper and more frequent critical and interpretive inspections of the power and reach of tourism in significantly and variously contributing to the making/demaking/remaking of peoples, places, and pasts, rather than just serving as a reproducing authority cum agency, which just mirrors what is already there in each location. While Tourism Studies was found (by Meethan) to be an as yet rather contained theoretical field, the concept of worldmaking was put forward in the first article as a thinking tool to assist critical understanding of the everyday articulation and the everyplace effectivity of tourism as a particular strong and pervasive producer of political meanings (or contested versions) of locality. In this follow-up article, an attempt is made to encourage more commonplace reflective and reflexive examinations of the creative and inventive manufacture capacity of tourism—as it works, or is worked upon, in collaboration with other formative and educative vehicles in society—to produce particular vistas of place and space, or to otherwise reconfigure the held visions of meaning and of becoming by populations. Such is the very prodigy of tourism (such are the potential prodigies of tourism!!), with all the immense myriad cultural, social, psychic, and political—as well as economic and environmental—ramifications that are entailed by that sort of sometimes-grand-and-magnificent/sometimes-petty-and-quotidian mediation of locality and heritage. While the article concludes by codifying (and damning!) a number of clich├ęs that litter much hastily-derived contemporary commentary on and about tourism—as drawn from the insight-loaded sociological work of Meethan—this second article is composed under the judgment that too many commentators in Tourism Studies (itself) are prone to reifying tourism as an almost undifferentiated industrial force of globalization. Such a judgment suggests that too many who work within Tourism Studies uncritically depict tourism as an almost-inevitable set of almost-neat impacts or almost-neat processes that affect places in almost-unstoppable and repeatable fashions across the globe. Such recurring (if generally implied rather than exhaustively shown) commentaries in the field of Tourism Studies are inclined to far too frequently envision local or involved populations merely as being nothing more than passive agents of “tourism”—that is, as a sort of fodder for the unrelenting growth of the expansionist and almost-predictable industry. Running through both of these companion articles on the worldmaking role and function of tourism, therefore, is the view that the creative authority and inventive agency of tourism is something that can be (or is being) used positively by groups and communities—in accordance with their own perspective, of course—at all levels of society to express new/corrective/fresh enunciative visions for local places. It can also be (and is being) used negatively—again, in perspectival regard—to silence, suppress, or subjugate other unwanted interpretations of place, space, or local inheritance. Such is the declarative and clearly pungently political force of tourism as it is deployed in worldmaking fashion in concert with (or at times, wholly against) other coproductive and co-generative narrative-issuing mediating forces in and across society. The two companion articles were first presented as one overall keynote delivery at the second Critical Tourism Studies Conference in Split, Croatia, in 2007. An earlier version of the combined/aggregate presentation may be found in a 400-page work by Ateljevic, Pritchard, and Morgan within the Elsevier Advances in Tourism Research series: The Critical Turn in Tourism Studies: Innovative Research Methods.
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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  • The aim of Tourism Analysis is to promote a forum for practitioners and academicians in the fields of Leisure, Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality (LRTH). As a interdisciplinary journal, it is an appropriate outlet for articles, research notes, and computer software packages designed to be of interest, concern, and of applied value to its audience of professionals, scholars, and students of LRTH programs the world over.
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